To Learn

Go­ing by the Kargil Re­view Com­mit­tee rec­om­men­da­tions, what will be the fate of the Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee rec­om­men­da­tions—it will be im­ple­mented in what mea­sure and in which era—is any­body’s guess


THIR­TEEN YEARS AF­TER KARGIL, where is In­dia? Pos­si­bil­ity of many more Kargils apart (as voiced by Mushar­raf) when the re­cent let­ter by Gen­eral V.K. Singh, former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to the Prime Min­is­ter got leaked, many non-mil­i­tary schol­ars voiced fears of a re­peat of 1962. The gov­ern­ment moved on with some re­ports planted in the me­dia that fi­nally the De­fence Min­is­ter has cleared some ma­jor de­fence ac­qui­si­tions. That was the end of the story! Of course there was the Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee (NCC) with no serv­ing mil­i­tary of­fi­cer as a mem­ber, not even a vet­eran COAS. Go­ing by the Kargil Re­view Com­mit­tee (KRC) rec­om­men­da­tions, what will be the fate of the NCC rec­om­men­da­tions —it will be im­ple­mented in what mea­sure and in which era—is any­body’s guess.

Kargil Lessons

Even if the lack of strate­gic cul­ture in In­dia is set aside, ap­pli­ca­tion of com­mon sense would have led us to the fol­low­ing facts that stared us in the face, post-Kargil and con­tinue to do so till date: In­dia’s higher de­fence set up dis­played gross in­ad­e­quacy in un­der­tak­ing strate­gic ap­pre­ci­a­tions and in as­sess­ing the en­emy’s in­ten­tions. Pi­tiable state of or­gan­i­sa­tion of na­tional level in­tel­li­gence, in­clud­ing poor sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­i­ties across the board. Tech­ni­cal in­tel­li­gence (TECHINT) and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­tel­li­gence (COMINT) are no sub­sti­tute for hu­man in­tel­li­gence (HUMINT). While all forms of in­tel­li­gence ac­qui­si­tion are im­por­tant, HUMINT is a vi­tal fac­tor that can­not be ig­nored. Ar­eas of our strate­gic in­ter­est need con­tin­ued hu­man sur­veil­lance. Sud­den politico-bu­reau­cratic peace il­lu­sions with­out mil­i­tary ad­vice and sub­stan­ti­ated by hard re­al­i­ties, is like liv­ing in a fool’s par­adise. The mil­i­tary-In­ter-Ser­vice In­tel­li­gence (ISI) calls the shots in Pak­istan. They are in­ti­mately linked to ter­ror­ist out­fits and are breed­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing rad­i­cal­ism. They should not be ex­pected to give up their anti-In­dia poli­cies and proxy war. De­ceit and back­stab­bing. The mere fact that their mil­i­tary (un­der Mushar­raf) re­fused to recog­nise the dead bodies of North­ern Light In­fantry, in­di­cates how de­praved their think­ing can get. Dis­cov­ery of gas masks with Pak­istani RPG squads and the state of some of our de­ceased in­di­cates that Pak­istan will have no com­punc­tions in us­ing chem­i­cal am­mu­ni­tion in fu­ture as well. The nu­clear bluff of Pak­istan should have been ig­nored to punish it ad­e­quately, given our se­cond strike ca­pa­bil­ity. The dual China-Pak­istan threat will first man­i­fest in the moun­tains, con­cur­rent to the on­go­ing asym­met­ric wars in­clud­ing ter­ror­ism and in­sur­gen­cies be­ing fanned in In­dia by these two coun­tries. There are no short­cuts to un­der­tak­ing pe­ri­odic strate­gic de­fence re­view, defin­ing a na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy in­clud­ing out­lin­ing na­tional se­cu­rity ob­jec­tives, mak­ing de­fence ac­qui­si­tions in line with the na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy and un­der­tak­ing holis­tic re­views pe­ri­od­i­cally. Arm­ing and equip­ping troops at the cut­ting edge can­not be ig­nored in the back­drop of big ticket ac­qui­si­tions. Ig­nor­ing the front­line troops will cost us many lives which can be avoided. The stu­pid­ity of Pak­istani troops in en­gag­ing our pa­trols pre­ma­turely dur­ing the Kargil in­tru­sions was ac­tu­ally a bless­ing in dis­guise. Had they held their fire un­til the passes were snowed out, the em­bar­rass­ment of In­dia would have grown man­i­fold. Move­ment of troops, guns, equip­ment and am­mu­ni­tion into Ladakh would have been pos­si­ble only by air, and dis­lodg­ing the en­emy at those heights dur­ing win­ters sans ad­e­quate equip­ment and cloth­ing, much more dif­fi­cult.

Or­gan­i­sa­tion of De­fence

In­dia’s lack of strate­gic cul­ture can­not be rec­ti­fied till the mil­i­tary is in­te­grated into all mat­ters se­cu­rity, in an in­sti­tu­tion­alised man­ner. Armed forces joint­ness sim­ply has to be­come an im­per­a­tive. Though it will cause un­ease in bu­reau­cratic cir­cles, the Prime Min­is­ter, the Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter, the De­fence Min­is­ter, the Home Min­is­ter and the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor should all have in­di­vid­ual Mil­i­tary Ad­vi­sory Cells, com­pris­ing serv­ing and vet­eran mil­i­tary of­fi­cers. The NSA and Deputy NSA must al­ter­nate be­tween a mil­i­tary vet­eran and the bu­reau­crat. A Chief of De­fence Staff (CDS) (rec­om­mended as Per­ma­nent Chair­man COSC by Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee) should be ap­pointed with­out fur­ther loss of time. Sim­i­larly, the NSAB and NSCS must have both serv­ing and vet­eran mil­i­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tion. A holis­tic de­fence strate­gic re­view must be un­der­taken and re­viewed pe­ri­od­i­cally, with a na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy de­fined na­tional se­cu­rity ob­jec­tives out­lined. HQ In­te­grated De­fence Staff (IDS) must be fully in­te­grated into the MoD, duly in­ter­faced with the Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs (MEA) and the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs (MHA).

Or­gan­i­sa­tion of the In­tel­li­gence

Ef­forts to in­te­grate all the nine ma­jor in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and ush­er­ing ac­count­abil­ity into them through Par­lia­men­tary over­sight have been half-hearted at best till now. Our ar­eas of strate­gic in­ter­est con­tinue to be de­void of HUMINT sur­veil­lance. We not only need an In­te­grated Spe­cial Forces Com­mand (also rec­om­mended by the Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee) but also a na­tional pol­icy for em­ploy­ment of Spe­cial Forces. The po­ten­tial of these spe­cial troops must be op­ti­mised through their covert de­ploy­ment in ar­eas of our strate­gic in­ter­est. Ad­di­tion­ally, the De­fence In­tel­li­gence Agency (DIA) must not be stopped from its man­dated task of op­er­at­ing trans-bor­der sources.

Mil­i­tary Mod­erni­sa­tion

Mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion must take into ac­count en­vis­aged threats and war mak­ing po­ten­tial of our ad­ver­saries. Un­der­tak­ing mod­erni­sa­tion in iso­la­tion and with­out bas­ing it on a na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy is dan­ger­ous. Con­sid­er­ing the in­creased po­ten­tial of ir­reg­u­lar, non-tra­di­tional and asym­met­ric threats; up­grad­ing, arm­ing and equip­ping front­line troops must be given due pri­or­ity. The In­dian Mil­i­tary des­per­ately re­quires a revo­lu­tion in mil­i­tary af­fairs (RMA). The gov­ern­ment and the mil­i­tary would do well to ap­point per­ma­nent bodies within the gov­ern­ment and HQ IDS to specif­i­cally look at RMA holis­ti­cally in all its man­i­fes­ta­tions. MoD should also out­source re­fin­ing the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP) to a team of ex­perts to in­clude the mil­i­tary, De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO), the pri­vate sec­tor and think tanks in­stead of mak­ing an­nual cos­metic changes in­ter­nally.

De­fence Bud­get

The de­bate be­tween de­fence ex­pen­di­ture and find­ing money for other ex­pen­di­tures is end­less, but con­sid­er­ing the snow­balling pen­sion bill—ev­ery year some 60,00070,000 per­son­nel pro­ceed on pen­sion, the fact re­mains that there is very lit­tle of the de­fence bud­get for mod­erni­sa­tion. The KRC had rec­om­mended that af­ter re­duced colour ser­vice of seven years, mil­i­tary per­son­nel be ab­sorbed lat­er­ally into the Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces but that is never go­ing to make the po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tion happy. So what should we do for gen­er­at­ing more money for de­fence mod­erni­sa­tion? While we should not em­u­late China and Pak­istan in per­mit­ting the mil­i­tary run com­mer­cialised ven­tures, we could per­haps de-link pen­sions from the de­fence bud­get and bring it un­der re­spec­tive state bud­gets, as in Pak­istan.


De­vel­op­ment of tech­nol­ogy must be fo­cused, in­te­grat­ing na­tional tal­ent and re­sources to cater to five di­men­sional con­flicts (aerospace, land, sea, cy­ber, elec­tro­mag­netic), all op­er­a­tionalised forms war­fare (in­for­ma­tion war­fare, C4I2 war­fare, elec­tronic war­fare, cy­ber war­fare) and new forms of com­bat; space com­bat, cy­ber space com­bat, ra­di­a­tion com­bat, ro­botic com­bat, nano-tech­nol­ogy com­bat, etc. Space­based laser and plasma weapons over­tak­ing nu­clear weapons is not a utopian fan­tasy. Be­sides, ro­botic wars and mind con­trolled zom­bie wars are fast de­vel­op­ing into re­al­i­ties while tech­nolo­gies for cap­tur­ing satel­lites and high-tech drones are also be­ing de­vel­oped. With­out fo­cused na­tional ef­fort, our chances of win­ning fu­ture con­flict may be lit­tle. We need fully-net­worked forces, bet­ter pre­ci­sion guided mu­ni­tions (PGMs) in­clud­ing high en­ergy lasers, plasma, elec­tro-mag­netic, ul­tra­sonic, DEWs, long-range strate­gic aerospace plat­forms, im­proved in­tel­li­gence sur­veil­lance re­con­nais­sance (ISR) and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems, stealth and smart tech­nolo­gies, com­pact nukes, nano weapons-equip­ment, mi­cro UAVs, ant ro­bots, cy­ber war­riors, worms, virus and cy-bugs anti-satel­lite weapons (ASATs), etc.

Non-Tra­di­tional Threats

In­dia has been at dis­tinct dis­ad­van­tage in deal­ing with non-tra­di­tional threats. We have not cre­ated ad­e­quate de­ter­rence to trans-bor­der asym­met­ric threats and the se­cu­rity sec­tor at home is not or­gan­ised. The lat­ter is ev­i­dent from the man­ner in which the Maoist in­sur­gency is be­ing han­dled. The fact that the Home Min­is­ter him­self rec­om­mends a sep­a­rate Min­istry of Home­land Se­cu­rity in­di­cates the MHA is not ad­e­quately or­gan­ised to meet cur­rent and fu­ture chal­lenges. The Na­tional Counter ter­ror­ism cen­tre (NCTC) ap­pears get­ting di­luted even be­fore es­tab­lish­ment and the re­quired state level SCTCs are yet to be con­cep­tu­alised. The na­tional in­tel­li­gence grid (NATGRID) is still some way off. The CAPF units need re­or­gan­i­sa­tion on lines of the Rashtriya Ri­fles and Assam Ri­fles units.

Avoid­ing Kargil

The KRC Re­port stated, “A Kargil-type sit­u­a­tion could per­haps have been avoided had the In­dian Army fol­lowed a pol­icy of Si­acheni­sa­tion to plug un-held gaps along the 168-km stretch from Kaobal Gali to Chor­bat La. Look at this irony and the re­cent clam­our to de­mil­i­tarise Si­achen it­self on the mere ut­ter­ance of Kiyani and Nawaz Sharif.

The Need

There is a cry­ing need to grasp the above lessons of Kargil in their true per­spec­tive and ini­ti­ate re­me­dial mea­sures speed­ily. The mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity in­ter­ests need to be recog­nised and not treated as clash­ing with na­tional in­ter­ests, fail­ing which there can be more Kargils. This is all the more im­por­tant with the Re­search and Anal­y­sis Wing (RAW) warn­ing of emerg­ing con­flict sit­u­a­tion vis-à-vis China.

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