National Security Architecture Reforms & Theatre Commands : Discussions

Himanshu

Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
912
1,488
New Delhi
indopacfront.blogspot.com

Three Deputy National Security Advisers. A Military Adviser. Reconstituted Strategic Policy Group. A dedicated think tank to monitor and assess China across the spectrum. Formation of Defence Planning Committee (DPC). Additional budget for the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). India’s national security architecture is being transformed to meet current and future challenges.

The changes—some announced, some shrouded in official secrecy—are outcomes of the review of the national security structure ordered by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources say, felt there were too many silos in the system with no arrangement to take a comprehensive view on national security. The review, completed in mid-2018, has now led to these changes.

Appointment of two more deputy national security advisers, as opposed to just one in the earlier structure, is part of a major restructuring. Accordingly, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) Rajinder Khanna will look after external and technical intelligence matters, Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, former Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran is entrusted with handling diplomatic affairs and RN Ravi, former Intelligence Bureau officer and interlocutor for Naga talks, has been assigned to oversee internal security matters. Ravi was Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) until last week, when he was re-designated Deputy National Security Adviser. Khanna and Saran were already Deputy NSAs.

The three Deputy NSAs will now widen the scope and responsibility of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which works directly under National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, arguably Prime Minister Modi’s closest confidant on foreign and security policies. Doval, a former career intelligence officer—like Ravi and Khanna—has been NSA and Special Representative for talks with China since 2014. His remit has steadily increased since then and so has the budget of the NSCS. From a measly Rs 39.9 crore (actual expenditure) in 2016-17, its budget was increased to Rs 333.58 crore in 2017-18 although it could only spend Rs 168 crore at the end of the financial year 2017-18. However, for the current financial year (2018-19) it has again been allotted Rs 303.83 crore. With increase in its mandate, the NSCS will likely need more funds in coming years.

Along with the division of responsibility in the NSCS, the government has also reconstituted the Strategic Policy Group (SPG), a body that has existed since 1999 (appointed by the Vajpayee government a month before the Kargil conflict began). It was earlier headed by the Cabinet Secretary. In a partial but significant amendment to the original Office Memorandum, the SPG will now be led by the NSA, with the Cabinet Secretary and Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog becoming members of the group. Like in its earlier avatar, it will also have the three service chiefs, the intelligence chiefs, secretaries of defence, home, finance, atomic energy, defence research and development, revenue, space, and governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as members. The NSA will have the power to co-opt any other official and department as and when needed while the Cabinet Secretary will ensure coordination and implementation of decisions taken by the SPG.

In another concurrent development, a National Security Strategy document is now ready to be presented for discussion at the highest level. Those in the know say at least three versions of a National Security Strategy have been attempted in the past but none of them was either approved or released for public consumption. Despite some indications earlier this year that the Modi government may put out some elements of the National Security Strategy in the public domain, sources say, the Prime Minister has now ruled against making any part of the document public.

Another development that has largely gone unnoticed is the formation of a China-specific, MEA-run and funded think tank. Called the Centre for Contemporary China Studies (CCCS), the new entity will only study China from an Indian point of view. Manned by serving officers drawn from the MEA, the three armed forces, the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and other relevant ministries and departments, CCCS will prepare reports and undertake specific studies on China at the behest of different government departments to provide real-time policy inputs to the decision-makers dealing with China. So, for instance, the CCCS can be asked to provide quick inputs by the Commerce Ministry on the impact of U.S. trade sanctions against China and the likely advantage that can accrue to India. Or recommend a future course of action in India’s (largely positive) relationship with North Korea post the Trump-Kim summit. The CCCS’ governing body is headed by the External Affairs Minister and the NSA is the deputy chairman.

Coupled with the formation of the Defence Planning Committee (DPC) earlier this year, and the recent approval given by the Prime Minister to formation of three tri-services agencies—to create a join structure for cyber, space and special operations across the three armed forces—the new focus on restructuring the national security architecture has never been more intense. Like the SPG and NSCS, the DPC is headed by NSA Doval, inviting charges of too much concentration of power in the hands of one person. No matter what critics say, recent decisions are a clear indication that the Prime Minister has entrusted his NSA to evolve a comprehensive roadmap and get it implemented. The arrangement also has pitfalls: Doval already has too much on his plate (dealing with Pakistan, China, U.S. and Russia for instance), heading the nuclear command authority and handling the overall security situation. Now to expect him to deliver on these crucial issues looks a challenging task. However, as a trusted man of the Prime Minister, the NSA has the necessary authority lacking in earlier structures that had suggested reforms and roadmaps to bring India’s national security architecture up to speed.

Major Revamp Of India's National Security Architecture - SNI
 

Ashwin

Agent_47
Staff member
Administrator
Nov 30, 2017
4,447
7,198
Bangalore
The new Doval Durbar reduces India’s layered security system to a top-down Caliphate

Ajit Doval is now India’s all-powerful security boss. This concentration of power disrupts our layered security system.

It is apt to compare a well-established structure of Indian governance — especially the relatively more conservative security bureaucracy — with our earth, made of layers dynamic, but moving at a pace so slow, you can never feel it. When these layers move suddenly and radically, it is a tectonic shift.

This is exactly what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just brought about, overnight, with the power of a mere notification. It created an entirely new kind of national security architecture. It is the new-look Strategic Policy Group, headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Kumar Doval.

Its 18 members include the usual suspects like the three service (Army, Navy, Air Force) and two intelligence chiefs (IB and RAW), defence, home, finance and space secretaries, but also some surprises: The governor of the Reserve Bank of India, vice-chairman of the NITI Aayog, revenue secretary and, the most interesting of all, cabinet secretary, traditionally and formally the most senior civil servant in the country. Cabinet secretary, incidentally, is a constitutional position; the NSA isn’t.

There are three more interesting points in the brief notification. One, that the NSA can summon secretaries from any other ministries to the SPG meeting. Two, that the cabinet secretary will “coordinate the implementation of SPG decisions by the Union Ministries/departments and state governments”. And three, that the notification is signed not by the relevant officer in the Prime Minister’s Office or the cabinet secretariat, but by a joint secretary in the National Security Council.

The SPG, as the notification indicates, was first set up by the Vajpayee government in April 1999. The difference is, it was then to be headed by the cabinet secretary. The NSA and the deputy chairman, Planning Commission, were special invitees and the group functionally resided in the cabinet secretariat. The notification has now shifted it to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). The cabinet secretary, instead of heading it, is now a member and executor of its decisions. The NSA is the new head.

It is tempting to unleash a line like the “clerk of the cabinet” has now become the “clerk of the NSCS”. But this is a change too sensitive for smart Alec-isms. Far from being merely an issue of bureaucratic pecking orders or inter-service hierarchies, it raises important questions on national security that call for robust debate.

The most important tectonic plate to shift is the formal and de jure authority for national security decisions from the cabinet secretariat to the NSCS. Cabinet secretariat, incidentally, is where the RAW is housed and its budget also comes from here. Technically, the status quo will be maintained as the decisions of the SPG will still be executed by the cabinet secretary, but the authority won’t be his, or the cabinet’s. At least not formally, or on the record. It is fair to say that since the NSA is the Prime Minister’s key counsel on security-related issues, he will be deciding on authority he (the Prime Minister) has delegated to him. But I am not sure the calcified Raisina Hill power structure will adjust easily to this relative informality.

Here are some more debate-worthy issues arising from this change:

One, will it not weaken whatever remains of the power and authority of the home, defence and finance ministers? Their officers and the service chiefs, effectively, come back and convey the decisions to them while the cabinet secretary ensures these are followed.

Two, what will it leave for the Cabinet Committee on Security to do? Collective responsibility is the bedrock of the cabinet system of governance. This implies that all of the CCS members have a say on a crucial issue and they then take a call collectively, obviously with the Prime Minister’s being the weightiest voice. A debate, difference of opinion, is normal and healthy in the CCS. Will it be possible now, if the decision or policy comes from this large SPG including all its top officials, service chiefs and wrapped in the Prime Minister’s authority? See it this way: When the Prime Minister’s mind is already known, what will you debate? Will the other ‘Big-4’ (home, defence, finance and external affairs ministers) just rubber-stamp it?

Three, it is not so important at this point because it is something that wasn’t going to happen any time soon anyway. But this will finish any prospect, or even debate, on the institution of a chief of defence staff.

The debate goes on. That under a strong Prime Minister, decisions often go top-down instead of bottom-up is a given. We saw this under Indira Gandhi. But this formal centralisation of authority with the Prime Minister, marginalisation of traditional structures, destruction of checks and balances, is rude.

Think, for a moment, what is the question on Rafale that the Supreme Court has asked. Was due procedure followed, or was it a decision taken and announced by the Prime Minister, even if in good faith, and passed down for necessary paperwork and formalities? This is a propriety issue. Of course, old, inherited bureaucratic structures are stifling, and need change. That shouldn’t mean a multi-layered constitutional system becomes a top-down caliphate.

Next, the bureaucratic “caste prejudice” (not my formulation, but the IPS Association’s in one of its representations to the government) needs to be challenged and reset on merit. This will be the issue with any service finding pre-eminence, not just the IAS. A quaint Modi government reality is how no top IPS officer seems to retire anymore. Most of them get re-employed in the government while most IAS and IFS officers go home, or to sinecures on corporate boards.


Here’s a quick—and not definitive—count: Former RAW chief Rajinder Khanna is now Dy NSA. Preceding him was Alok Joshi, who was made chairman of the NTRO (National Technical Research Organisation) right after the NDA came to power. He has just gone home after reaching the age of 65. He has been replaced by Satish Jha, former special director IB, who was first appointed advisor NTRO on retirement. Now he has been elevated. Former IB chief Dineshwar Sharma is interlocutor for J&K. R.N. Ravi, retired from IB, has been the Naga interlocutor, but now also Deputy NSA. Amitabh (Tony) Mathur, ex-RAW, has been advisor, Tibetan Affairs. A.B. Mathur, also RAW ex-number two, is in the NSAB (National Security Advisory Board). Besides these, Karnal Singh is on post-retirement contract in the Enforcement Directorate and Sharad Kumar, the former NIA head, who was on post-retirement contract, is now one of the vigilance commissioners. All of them are retired IPS officers.

The NSCS budget has been increasing — from some Rs 81 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 333 crore in 2017-18. Sardar Patel Bhawan, where the NSCS is located, in central Lutyens’, is being emptied of many other existing offices. A new empire is being built.

A mere tweet from me on this earlier this week drew sharp reactions not just from the defenders of the government and Doval fans but amusingly, the angriest from the IPS Association. In a country where former police constables have become home minister (Sushil Kumar Shinde) and Vice-President (Bhairon Singh Shekhawat), I surely wouldn’t have a problem with a retired, stellar IPS officer becoming an all-powerful security czar. Particularly when he happens to be someone about whom my views are published, and not unflattering. But should one person, any one person, be all-powerful in a multi-layered, nuclear-armed nation of 1.34 billion, is a good question.

@Hellfire
 

Ashwin

Agent_47
Staff member
Administrator
Nov 30, 2017
4,447
7,198
Bangalore
A security architecture without the mortar

In April this year, the Narendra Modi government set up a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) to assist in the creation of “national security strategy, international defence engagement strategy, roadmap to build (a) defence manufacturing ecosystem, strategy to boost defence exports, and priority capability development plans”. Earlier this month, it also decided to revive the Strategic Policy Group (SPG) within the overall National Security Council (NSC) system. Are these committees indicative of a newfound ‘national security consciousness’ in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government today?

That the government has set up/revived these committees only in its final year in office goes to show that it is cognisant of the fact that its national security performance has been found severely wanting. More so, given the sorry state of the country’s national security, it — erroneously, if I may add — hopes that further centralisation of national security and defence decision making in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) under the National Security Adviser (NSA), would salvage its national security reputation.

Deteriorating environment
India’s national security environment has steadily deteriorated since 2014. Both the overall violence in Jammu and Kashmir and ceasefire violations on the Line of Control reached a 14-year high in 2017, a trend that refuses to subside in 2018. There are far more attacks on security forces and security installations in J&K, and militant recruitments and violence against civilians in the State than at any time in the past decade-and-a-half. The pressure from China is on the rise. While the government’s spin managers valiantly claim that the surgical strikes of 2016 gave a befitting response to Pakistan, and the stand-off at Doklam conveyed to China that India is no pushover, the reality is that surgical strikes hardly made any significant gains, and the Chinese forces (by all accounts including a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs) are back in the Doklam plateau with more force. The report goes on to fault the government for “continuing with its conventionally deferential foreign policy towards China”. New Delhi’s neighbourhood policy continues to be in the doldrums and there is a clear absence of vision on how to balance, engage and work with the many great powers in the regional and the broader international scene. The frenzied foreign policy activities we are witnessing today are essentially diplomatic firefighting and damage control of a government in its last lap.

Absence of defence reforms
India spends close to $50 billion annually on defence and yet there are serious concerns about the level of our defence preparedness. Notwithstanding the feel-good rhetoric about the Indian Army’s readiness to fight a “two-and-a-half front war”, it might be useful to speculate on the potential outcome of such a scenario. Rhetoric can neither make a country secure nor win wars. Even more worryingly, India might be ill-equipped to fight the wars of the modern age. What India requires then is not empty rhetoric but long-term strategic thinking of which there is little in sight.

One reason why there is little bang for the buck from the $50 billion lies in our almost non-functional higher defence organisation. India’s defence policy is on auto-pilot with hardly any political oversight or vision. There is little conversation between the armed forces and the political class, and even lesser conversation among the various arms of the forces. This will soon become unsustainable for a country that aspires to be a modern great power.

Besides setting up or revamping these bureaucratic committees, there is little talk about serious defence reforms in the country. One of the most serious lacunas in our defence management is the absence of jointness in the Indian armed forces. Our doctrines, command structures, force deployments and defence acquisition continue as though each arm is going to fight a future war on its own. Not only do the various arms of the Indian armed forces plan their strategies in silos but even their rhetoric is partisan (consider the Army Chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat’s statement about the Army, not the armed forces as a whole, being prepared for a “two-and-a-half front war”).

In the neighbourhood
China has progressed a great deal in military jointmanship, and Pakistan is doing a lot better than India. In India, talk of appointing a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has all but died down. Leave alone appointing a CDS, even the key post of military adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) remains vacant. And the government seems to mistakenly think that by having the NSA chair, the SPG and DPC will take care of the fundamental problems in the country’s higher defence sector.

Recall also that the post of the NSA is not a legally-mandated one. So one might rightly wonder how an unelected and retired official with no parliamentary accountability has come to occupy such a crucial position in the country’s national security decision making, and whether this is healthy in a parliamentary democracy.

The NSC, which replicates the membership of the Cabinet Committee on Security, almost never meets under the new regime, and the National Security Advisory Board, initially set up by the Vajpayee government, to seek ‘outside expertise’ on strategic matters, is today a space for retired officials. As a result, there is little fresh thinking within the government or perspective planning on the country’s national security or defence.

All that the SPG and DPC would achieve is to further bureaucratise the national security decision making and centralise all national security powers under the PMO. While I concede that this might provide a little more coordination in decision making, let’s be clear that these committees are hardly sufficient to get the country’s national security system back on track. To expect the NSA to chair all these committees and then action their recommendations while at the same time running the country’s national security affairs on a day-to-day basis is unrealistic, and would end up producing sub-optimal outcomes. Top-heavy systems hardly work well unless supported by a well-oiled institutional mechanism.

There is some hope that these committees would take a close, hard look at the state of modernisation and domestic defence industry in the country, both of which are in a sorry state. Under the present system, where the ratio of revenue to capital expenditure in defence is roughly 65:35%, any serious attempt at modernisation would be impossible. While the committees would be cognisant of this, there is precious little they could do now, just months before the government faces a crucial election.

No vision
At the end of the day, many of India’s national security inadequacies stem from the absence of a national security/defence vision. Ideally, the country should have an overall national security document from which the various agencies and the arms of the armed forces draw their mandate and create their own respective and joint doctrines which would then translate into operational doctrines for tactical engagement. In the absence of this, as is the case in India today, national strategy is broadly a function of ad hocism and personal preferences.

Despite the BJP’s hypernationalist credentials in the field of national security and defence, its appetite towards defence reforms has been lacklustre, its willingness to create a broad national strategy has been non-existent, and, much of its energy geared towards utilising national security issues for domestic political gains. Consequently, the state of India’s national security and defence is worse off today compared to when it took office in May 2014. And in the meantime, we are becoming a country without a coherent national security purpose.

Happymon Jacob is Associate Professor of Disarmament Studies, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

A security architecture without the mortar
 
  • Informative
Reactions: _Anonymous_

Hari Sud

Member
Aug 4, 2018
29
16
Toronto
Instead of being critical, can you please analyze the upcoming security structure now being centralized in PMO office. Will it accelerate Indian military response e.g. to Uri attack. I very much doubt it. The Indian response came within two weeks. Since then attacks on border headquarters of military have not happened. They the enemy has learnt the lesson. They know it that the previous order came from PMO and any future response will again be centred from PMO.

So what is new? I believe a bigger bureaucracy is not helpful anywhere.

Again for Doklam, Chinese were being monitored the day they began to extend the road. Confronting Chinese order also came from PMO. How will the newer security architecture alter it? May be for an extended confrontation, the PMO will have multiple heads advising the PM instead of one NSA. That is not an improvement, rather difference in opinion and assessment will ruin the response.

Only creation of CDS will alter the security architecture. That will make a single military authority for decision making for Army, Airforce and Navy. If the danger is that the job will make a too powerful personality, well the advantages are greater than the disadvantages.
 

Gautam

Team StratFront
Feb 16, 2019
11,999
8,148
Tripura, NE, India
What India’s Expanded Security Architecture Looks Like

Nitin A. Gokhale, New Delhi, 16 April 2019

Twenty years ago today, India’s National Security Council Secretariat or NSCS came into existence through a Cabinet Resolution.

Two decades since making a modest beginning by occupying just half a floor of the Sardar Patel Bhawan on Parliament street, the NSCS has expanded both in its influence and physically too, to spread itself across the entire five storey building as it begins its 21st year of existence.

Just as its physical presence has grown so has its budget. From a measly Rs 39.9 crore (actual expenditure) in 2016-17, its budget was increased to Rs 333.58 crore in 2017-18 although it could spend only Rs 168 crore at the end of the financial year 2017-18. However, for the financial year 2018-19 it has again been allotted Rs 303.83 crore.

Appointment of two more deputy national security advisers, as opposed to just one in the earlier structure, is part of a major restructuring. Accordingly, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) Rajinder Khanna will look after external and technical intelligence matters, Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and former Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran is entrusted with handling diplomatic affairs and RN Ravi, former Intelligence Bureau officer and interlocutor for Naga talks, has been assigned to oversee internal security matters. Ravi was Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) until he was re-designated Deputy National Security Adviser. Khanna and Saran were already Deputy NSAs.

The three Deputy NSAs will now widen the scope and responsibility of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which works directly under National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, arguably Prime Minister Modi’s closest confidant on foreign and security policies. Doval, a former career intelligence officer—like Ravi and Khanna—has been NSA and Special Representative for talks with China since 2014. His remit has steadily increased since then. With increase in its mandate, the NSCS will likely need more funds in coming years.

Along with the division of responsibility in the NSCS, the government has reconstituted the Strategic Policy Group (SPG), a body that has existed since 1999 (appointed by the Vajpayee government a month before the Kargil conflict began). It was earlier headed by the Cabinet Secretary. In a partial but significant amendment to the original Office Memorandum, the SPG will now be led by the NSA, with the Cabinet Secretary and Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog becoming members of the group. Like in its earlier avatar, it will also have the three service chiefs, the intelligence chiefs, secretaries of defence, home, finance, atomic energy, defence research and development, revenue, space, and governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as members. The NSA will have the power to co-opt any other official and department as and when needed while the Cabinet Secretary will ensure coordination and implementation of decisions taken by the SPG.

 

Gautam

Team StratFront
Feb 16, 2019
11,999
8,148
Tripura, NE, India
‘Yawning Gap Existed In National Security Architecture, Adhocism Needed To Be Bridged’
Nitin A. Gokhale, New Delhi, 16 April 2019

As the National Security Council completes 20 years, India’s first Deputy National Security Adviser Satish Chandra says the institution has gradually evolved and expanded as it should and is doing a great job. In an exclusive interview with SNI’s Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale, Chandra looks back at the formative years of the organisation and why the need for it arose.

 

BlackOpsIndia

Team StratFront
Dec 1, 2017
3,056
3,774
127.0.0.1
He is saying NSA is now pseudo CDS !
We have seen him chairing meetings which Foreign ministers should have, taking trips to neighborhood which Defense Minister should have and recommending, transferring, setting up security architecture which Home minister should have.

I always thought of him as super minister of all 3 portfolios and seen real ministers carrying water for him. Looks like he is elevated to cabinet rank so as not to run into any legal trouble where a document carrying recommendation of MoS Doval got preference over elected cabinet minister and SC start inquiring why. Let the business be carried out as per rules to avoid trouble instead of informal nudging and directing from behind the scenes.
Lessons from Rafale document leak.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Paro

Gautam

Team StratFront
Feb 16, 2019
11,999
8,148
Tripura, NE, India
He is saying NSA is now pseudo CDS !
Would make sense that way. Giving the position of CDS to any of the service chief might cause in-fighting. The problem would be, who after Doval will be in position to be place as a NSA ?
Looks like he is elevated to cabinet rank so as not to run into any legal trouble where a document carrying recommendation of MoS Doval got preference over elected cabinet minister and SC start inquiring why. Let the business be carried out as per rules to avoid trouble instead of informal nudging and directing from behind the scenes.
Lessons from Rafale document leak.
Agreed.