Millennium Post

National security at stake

The Naresh Chandra Task Force on national security has been an important exercise for reviewing our national security management. The last such exercise for the re-evaluation of our defence preparedness came in the wake of the Kargil war in the shape of the Kargil Review Committee set up soon after. It has, thus, been more than a decade since any review effort has been made vis-a-vis national security. Nobody can deny that a further review has been necessitated by the dramatic changes in the security scenario, with technologies having made rapid strides and non-state actors and other security threats demonstrating the possibilities of action even as the conventional threats have not receded. There is no room for complacency as far as national security is concerned, with South Asia continuing to be an unstable region. This is why the government and the national security establishment in India has to be on its toes constantly to meet the emerging challenges. It is in this context that the recommendations of the Naresh Chandra Task Force assume significance. It has made some worthy suggestions, such as that for a Special Operations Command (SOC), to bring together special forces of the Army, Navy, IAF and other agencies under a unified command and control structure to execute strategic operations. SOCs have proven successful in other theatres and by other armed forces. Therefore, this is a suggestion that must be given worthy consideration.

At the same time, the committee has made some suggestions which may not be universally acceptable. It has suggested that the Prevention of Corruption Act be amended to protect officers involved in defence purchases in case they make 'an error of judgement'. No one will dispute the necessity of ensuring that the best equipment is incorporated within our defence forces but to give officers the licence to make errors is likely to open the door to further corruption, which bedevils the procurement process. Similarly, the task force has recommended a greater integration of the military with the defence ministry. While in theory this appears to be a good idea, it may not be feasible in reality as it touches upon the delicate civil-military relationship. The Kargil Review Committee had found many gaps in our national security and made many recommendations. Yet only some of these have been implemented, not fully but halfheartedly, while, the government has continued to drag its feet with regard to others. Successive governments did not implement important recommendations such as on the issues of federal police and coastal security; gaps which were exposed in the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008. This should not be the fate of the Naresh Chandra Task Force recommendations. They should be examined carefully and, where found applicable, should be expeditiously implemented. 
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