14. There is undoubtedly a pressing requirement for reorganising existing higher defence organisation and military command in India. The same has been emphasised by the Kargil Review Committee in its recommendations. It states “…the committee strongly feels that the Kargil experience, the continuing proxy war and the nuclearised security environment justify a thorough review of the national security system in its entirety .” Prior to suggesting any changes in the present system to overcome the drawbacks it is pertinent to consider some broad principles that emerges. These principles are: –
(a) Country should have a defence set up within the constitutional framework, responsible for the following:-
(i) Defining the national aim, national security and national strategy.
(ii) Long and calibrated defence policies keeping in perspective foreign and internal security dimensions.
(iii) Integrated functioning of intelligence network.
(iv) Integrated functioning of the three services and MOD.
(b) Primacy of civil over the military in democratic countries through the cabinet and parliament.
(c) Defence planning, procurement including modernisation and the budgeting.
(d) Border management.
(e) Need for nuclear command and control infrastructure.
(f) Research and development to harness national talent to stay in the frontiers of the technology.
15. Defence Policy. In the planning and decision-making process, the overall goals of defence policy are of great importance as these define the quantum, quality and character of defence that is required to meet the objectives. In the absence of any formal directives to the Chiefs of Staff by the government, it is significant that the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee on Defence, presented to the Lok Sabha in March 1996, defines India’s national security interests . In the changing time government should evolve a long term defence policy keeping in mind the national interest and the evolutionary trend in the world order.
16. Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA). CCPA which is the highest decision making body in the country on national security does not have the benefit of considered matured and unbiased professional advice from the military executive in the country. This body is so occupied with the formulation of the national policy that it can hardly devote any time to deliberate on the defence matters and national security. The country has long felt the need for an overarching organisation that can identify national interests and objectives. The National Security Council (NSC) was formally constituted in April 1999 with Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister as the National Security Advisor. However, it is not fully focused on the security issues due to the multifarious tasks and responsibilities entrusted upon him. Hence, there is an urgent need to have a full time National Security Advisor .
17. National Security Council (NSC). The NSC under the National Security Advisor should be assigned the primary job of identifying national interests and objectives that will form the basis of future threat perception and policy planning. Besides, information will have to be coordinated and advice rendered to the Government on various issues relating to the well being of the nation. For this the NSC secretariat should have the necessary authority to ask for information and need to be fully integrated into the government functioning.
18. Intelligence Integration. The Kargil conflict revealed the inadequacies of our intelligence gathering system. The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) was devalued over a period of time. However, its efficiency increased since it became part of NSC. With the need to have operational intelligence as well as strategic intelligence there is a need to integrate the intelligence set up under one roof in form of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). A committee led by Mr. Girish Saxena presented a paper on re-organisation of intelligence set up in Jan 2001, which proposed the integration of the military intelligence set up also . This was a welcome step that provided a better system of collection, reporting, collation and assessment of intelligence. The DIA should take into consideration intelligence and counter-intelligence against information and cyber war. After much deliberation the DIA was finally made in 2002 which was a welcome step towards credible intelligence input under one roof from various other agencies.
19. Defence Ministry and Services Headquarters. There is an urgent need to amalgamate Service headquarters with the Ministry of Defence to obtain an integrated organisation. This will avoid the present duplication of staff and the effort in these organisations. Thus Ministry of Defence would function as a department of the Government and as military headquarters. The Defence Minister will now have expert advice from the professionals, and the Services Chiefs have direct access to him. Although the MoD has been merged with Army and Navy, it is yet to be combined with the Air Force and in effect displays disjointmanship amongst the three forces. Morover, the joining of MoD with the two services is merely namesake.
20. Presently, the Services headquarters and Ministry of Defence are compartments with permeability clearly defined. The authority of approval and recommendations is in the hands of Ministry of Defence; the responsibility for efficient performance rests with the Services headquarters. The Defence Estimate Committee published on 20 August 1992 observed that opposition to initiatives, ideas or proposal of defence mechanism assumes a hurdle race. The committee has recommended that the decision making process in the Ministry of Defence needs to be reformed to avoid cost and time overruns with greater power to the three Services Chiefs.
21. Financial Management. The financial management also needs to be changed for our defence organisation. India is still following the system, which was introduced in 1906, which was basically meant to curb the powers of then Commander-in-Chiefs. The finance is required to be integrated with the defence set up. The allocation of funds should be keeping in mind the national resources, requirement of the Armed Forces for the modernisation and upkeep of the forces. For budgeting British model will be beneficial wherein, ten years proposals are presented and budget for four years presented and approved by the parliament. This gives the Defence Council and the service boards to plan their expenditure within the laid down parameters under the advice of Parliament Under Secretary. In our context the financial advisor can be from the finance ministry.
Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC)
22. The three chiefs operate outside the reach of the Ministry of Defence and its influence, and remain isolated from each other. The Government organisation must practice close consultations between the politicians, bureaucrats and the Services staff. The physical segregation of Chiefs from the Government has diminished their status and performance denying the country’s higher defence organisation the counsel of military professionals. Due to the absence of familiar exchange between the bureaucracy and the General Staff, the interaction is not ritualistic, mechanical and not innate or persuasive. This leads to Defence Secretary arrogating himself the role of CDS. The need is for interaction of Chiefs of Staff and the Government on threat perception, policy constraints, force structure and economic realities. Thus, there is a need to bring Chiefs of Staff in to the decision making arm of the government. Once Chiefs become secretaries to the government and the Services headquarters become departments of Ministry of defence in real sense, they will have direct access to the ministry as available to the senior civilian officers and thus remain under the control of political executive. This will involve greater delegation of powers and direct access of the force commander to the Minister of Defence.
23. The Kargil fiasco highlighted the gaps in our higher defence setup. The recommendations of Kargil Review Committee brought out these deficiencies in great detail. It goes on to add that the parochial interest has superseded the national interest. Activities in Pakistan and China points towards an increase in proliferation of nuclear weapons and missile development and India cannot remain a bystander and non-reactive in her policies.
24. India as an emerging economic power and potential regional and global player in the international politics and economy, has to put its act together to preserve its national interest and to ensure peace and stability in the South Asian and Indian Ocean region. Hence, India needs to reorganise its higher defence structure. The present higher defence organisation is a legacy of old British higher defence setup, which actually catered for the imperialistic goals. The present emerging world order and the activities of the Asian neighbours will have to be kept in mind before arriving at the policy decision.
25. The most important fact about India is the enunciation of our defence policy by the Cabinet or the Parliament. In the absence of such a directive it is difficult to plan force structuring and weapon procurement and evolving of a doctrine by the various services. National Security is vital to our existence as a Nation and hence requires a balanced understanding between the polity and the armed forces. The recommendations given are keeping in mind the history of Indian reforms and the present geopolitical situation both within and outside the country and seeks to bring about a strong yet powerful change in the Indian Higher Defence Organisation.
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