An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 03 August 2006  


It seems that India's security and intelligence establishments are under siege. Lt Gen Kapoor Chief of Staff in Pune, recently stated India's internal security challenges were far more than the external threats. Gen Musharraf had said the same for Pakistan, which also had greater internal worries. It may well be that if the Army’s powers are reduced in the next elections, then Pakistan may slide into a break up mode.

Gen Kapoor may well be rapped for telling the truth, just as someone in New Delhi who repeated it and went even further, when he stated that Jointness between the Armed Forces and with paramilitary and intelligence agencies was sadly lacking. The internal security situation was bad, and the fervour of the Muslims worldwide was rising and Tony Blair had said so too and UK’s Intelligence cannot easily be faulted. Since the external threat was minimal the Indian Government was sleeping, and deeply involved in (non existant?) ‘moles’ set up by Jaswant Singh to sell his book.

Speaking of Jointness India's MOD and MEA had still not realised that in some 42 Indian missions abroad we had no uniformed officers nominated as Defence Advisers. Some changes had been locally mooted in the Embassy in Washington DC, as the situation had gone out of control with umpteen visiting delegations for whom coordination was lacking. Ambassador Ronnen Sen with experience of Sri Lanka ops, Brass Tacks and Bofors, while he was in the PMO with Rajiv Gandhi, obviouly knew how to sort out India’s brass.

Generally all countries had a nominated Defence Adviser but Indian missions alone had separate Naval, Army and Air Force Attaches/Advisers reporting to the Head of Mission (HOM). So the siege begins for High Commissioners and Ambassadors on security issues, as they already have a RAW man or more breathing down their necks ­­–– but even HOMs had done nothing except complain or bear the pain for the comfortable life they lead compared to that in New Delhi. The aim was to see that no complaints go out and now they have no Foreign Minister to complain to and the Foreign Secretary is one of the most travelled diplomats. In Delhi too the foreign defence attaches in missions report to respective service HQs. This is also an interesting phenomenon where the left hand does not know what the other does, with regard to Attaches. It reflects lack of Jointness. A recent seminar in S. Africa highlighted this again, as S. Africa had to deal with each service very independently and it is abroad one gets exposed to so many serving thinkers, who speak freely, like Gen Kapoor had done.

The internal security battle too needs Jointness between the MOD, three Armed Forces and the Home Ministry. In fact we noticed a trend that it was only the powerful NSA who was able to get all heads together in Srinagar last month and pulled up the police, army and the para miliatry forces for not working together. The Army Chief followed suit and uniquely called in the Home Secretary and all the paramilitary and Intelligence heads to his office, but we are sure this may be a one off event. A media press release was doled out which was not at all necessary. We noticed that the Defence Secretary's presence was not reported –– very few Defence Secretaries have gone to a Service Chief's office for meetings. Some have dropped in for coffee but not for formal meetings.

Most modern countries like USA have even Home Guards placed under Pentagon control. Today the internal security situation is prime, as the Naxalite threat is looming large in addition.

In the early 90s the Navy had commissioned a team to do a ‘threat analysis’ and the same message had come out –– that internal security is the main challenge –– and gave ideas how the core competence of each force needs to be used to meet it –– but the report was dust binned as it did not help to beef up Indian Navy's budget, which is the only reason the Navy used to do threat analysis then. The team was told internal security was the Army’s problem.

No wonder the powerful Home Minister Advani set the trend by multiplying the paramilitary forces and increasing their numbers and additional agencies without any thought of the command and control problems or the internecine battles between the heads of these organizations, who are all at Secretary level. The egos of the bureaucrat Secretary in India's establishments, who are the true Brahmins in a manner of speaking, are well known.

All this is wasted manpower and now fire power for internal security. The Intelligence heads are also policemen bureaucrats who gang up to see their empires grow and recently finding gaps of good analysts, RAW and NTRO had inducted the good leftovers from the Military thinking it may solve problems.

Today in Mumbai it is common knowledge that the train bomb blasts were locally supported. The strife for the Army is not abating in J and K or North East and the Naxalite menace is rising as a power to collect taxes and protection money form those who can pay. Media reports Indians in Nepal are coming under siege and something needs to be done. These are serious trends and as Muslim anger grows worldwide, even in an unaffected far off place like S Africa it is rising. We saw that at a function, where strong speeches were made even by Muslim women in flawless English and in western dresses but with scarves round their heads. The fervor saying that their brethren world over were being targeted was scary. The Israeli strikes on Leabanon had sparked more anger.

Yet the lower echelons of the Armed Forces are in good shape. The Navy's ships INS Mumbai Betwa and B’putra had done an outstanding job off Lebanon by rescuing Indians and others in OP SUKOON. They were on their way back from a Flag showing cruise to Greece and Libya. They rescued over 1000 personnel and landed them at Larnaca in Cyprus.

India’s Gorkhas in Sudan and other Indian Army units in the UN peace keeping missions in Africa and Lebanon had done India proud and India's UN mission funds for peace keeping kept in New York stand swollen. India is also training reps of the world in its school at USI in Delhi for UN postings. The IAF had saved many UN personnel including Pakistanis by employing gun ships and our recent visit to S. Africa tells us the Indian Navy too can be proud so can the nation for all India has done in peace keeping. The Navy can be proud of its training for submariners of S Africa. The officers and men at INS Satavahana at Vishakapatnam trained 20 S African Navy submariners who now man their new 209 submarines. Now the Government wants to charge more as some Babu probably wants to show his strength with his pen which with sharks in New Delhi, will always be mightier than the sword. In fact the top brass for some reason keep their swords sheathed in New Delhi for the goodies that follow. What we wish to convey is that the mid level officers and men in our Armed Forces are the world's best but it is our top management in our security establishment that need to rise to their needs.

Admittedly the war room of the Navy leaked and many NSC secrets were out despite hot shots in the NSC, but the people in the NSC must understand computers. India’s counter intelligence has to be good and those in NSC have to keep a low profile. Yet India's secrets are trivia as the Officials Secrets Act of 1923 ensures that even telephone numbers of some are secret and a tank design could well be ‘Top Secret’ for Indians, but a foreign supplier will know all about it. The leaks need not worry us but the guilty must be brought to book. All this needs jointness if one does not do an audit of the security establishment in New Delhi for decision making, then MOD will remain under siege and that is more serious. No one is thinking collectively for the Nation's security and each service and paramilitary force is empire building and the Police are looking suspect wherever one goes. From sex in J and K and money elsewhere, even murders can be hushed up and traffic accidents made to disappear.

The silver lining by India's luck is India's economy is doing well and the Government takes the credit as they should. It was the BJP's plank that began it all, and late Pramod Mahjan's assets when totted up one day will show that. Then again India's strength in English, higher education and population have proved its assets for money making even if infrastructure is creaking and the common Indian makes do with it. These are India's inherent strengths and were lauded at the Indian Ocean Maritime Recce Conference in Johannesburg.

The Mumbai blasts have shown that the rage of the Muslims is at a high as 7 blasts in Mumbai in 30 minutes on various trains must be a big operation and much of it is local rage and not just Pakistani sponsored terrorism as we would like to believe. We visited and met people in Mumbai for analysis and the job was an inside Mumbai supported job. The one million strong paramiliatry force is not being used properly for homeland defence and that is the challenge.

The Army can say their jawans' families are pressurized by militants in J and K and we will give that credence, but let us admit the Clash of Religions seems to be coming with Muslim names emerging in every suspect being rounded up. India needs to be on guard and MOD, MEA and MHA must attend to issues raised by us. It will not be difficult and a study of the Goldman Nicholas report of USA which solved some of USA’s problems to bring in Jointness is needed. In India however, the PM relies on a single powerful and capable NSA to do it and hone Intelligence which is what he was appointed for.

But he has other things like the Indo US nuclear deal, the China–India border and not to mention India–Pakistan imbroglio to deal with. Indians must know even Sardar Patel could not do it alone. He used strong means and some great Intelligence Chiefs and the Army finally in Hyderabad to get the Maharajas to accede to India, otherwise India’s geography left to a softer Nehru may have been different. And we should never be a soft state and let down our fine soldiers, sailors and airmen to do the dirty work when the crunch comes in the end.

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