Millennium Post

Keys to national security

The recommendations of the Naresh Chandra task force on national security are important for sustaining the competitiveness of the Indian defence establishment. Since independence, India’s defence has been tested repeatedly not just with wars in nearly every decade but also with insurgencies, proxy wars and terrorists. It is not just that India is in a dangerous neighbourhood but also that the shifting sands of geo-politics makes the nature of and shape of the enemy unpredictable. Therefore the country has to be prepared at all times. While the intruders were thrown out during the Kargil action in 1999, nonetheless, certain deficiencies were found at that time in the organisation of India’s defences. The Kargil review committee, set up immediately after this conflict, made a number of recommendations to remove these. Though important changes have been brought about because of these recommendation, the Naresh Chandra committee, set up in 2011, has found that some key recommendations of the Kargil review committee have not been implemented. This committee has noted that issues relating to the chief of defence staff and the integration between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and service headquarters have only been patially accepted. It has harshly critisised the exclusion of the professional heads of the three services from the apex structure as a result of which they are only associated with the policy formulation process and not directly involved. There is little doubt, as this committee has indicated, that the absence of synergy and coordinaion between the MoD and an integrated headquarters is adversely affecting security. This, in turn, is affecting the inter-service coordination with regard to logistics, engineering, operations and training.

It has also noted crucial deficiencies in the linkages between the ministry of extenal affairs and the MoD as well as in critical areas of defence procurement. Perhaps the major lacunae noted by the taskforce is the absence of clarity on the overall national strategic objectives, to remedy which, it has suggested a National Security Doctrine as well as a National Security Strategy indicating the contours of foreign and defence policies and setting its national and international priorities. These, and several other recommendations of the taskforce, if put in force, will revamp the defence policy and security structure not just at the operational but also at a strategic level. These are key interventions that are necessary for India’s survival and secure progress. Therefore, these recommendations should not be ignored as has happened to earlier similar reports but should be speedily implemented in the interests of India’s defence.    
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