A comprehensive national security strategy should then be formulated to deal with the threats so that the responsibilities of the armed forces and concerned government departments are clearly enunciated. Though the National Security Advisory Board of the National Security Council has drawn up a draft nuclear doctrine that is fairly comprehensive, the contours of the nuclear force structure, including its command and control, targeting, surveillance, early warning and damage assessment system and safety and risk reduction-cum-confidence building measures, are yet to clearly emerge.
India has for long been perceived as a soft state. Otherwise, Pakistan’s ten-year old ‘proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir would not have pone unchallenged. Also, the ISI would not have been allowed to spread its tentacles to forge links with militant organisations in the north-east and engineer terrorist acts all over the country with impunity. Pakistan’s military defeat in Kargil has further fuelled feelings of revenge in that country’s military establishment and its various state-sponsored terrorist organisations. Osama bin Laden has threatened a holy jehad against India. The internal security situation is also far from encouraging.
The first requirement for the better management of key national security concerns is to integrate the three Services headquarters with the Defence Ministry. This long-pending reform in the country’s threat perception, analysis, decision-making and policy implementation structure is bound to lead to an improvement in the management of national security. The other salient recommendations of the Arun Singh committee on defence expenditure, like of a Chief of Defence Staff with a specialised joint planning staff headquarters and the delegation of financial powers to the three Chefs of Staff to manage their respective revenue budgets, also need to be implemented.
A comprehensive strategic defence review is still to be conducted. The dangers posed by present and emerging threats to national security, like information warfare, the threat to India’s from the scourge of terrorism and the linked proliferation of small arms, threats from the weapons of mass destruction, the imperatives of food, energy and water security and the hazards of mass migration from across India’s borders, need to be evaluated and suitable policy options drawn up. A comprehensive national security strategy should then be formulated to deal with the threats so that the responsibilities of the armed forces and concerned government departments are clearly enunciated.
Based on the security objectives and the responsibilities assigned, the three services can review their organisational structures and recommend to the government to make the necessary changes. Also, there is need to revamp the Intelligence collection, collation, analysis, synthesis and dissemination structure at the national level.
Very little has been done to create a viable force structure to achieve credible minimum nuclear deterrence since India declared itself a nuclear weapons state after the Pokhran explosions in May 1998 and to create a national consensus On the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CIBI). though the National Security Advisory Board of the National Security Council has drawn up a draft nuclear doctrine that is fairly comprehensive, the contours of the nuclear force structure, including its command and control, targeting, surveillance, early warning and damage assessment system and safety and risk reduction-cum-confidence building measures, are yet to clearly emerge.
Transparency in matters of national security is a force multiplier as it enhances the public’s awareness of major concerns and helps build a national consensus. While the exact numbers.
deployments and targeting must remain closely guarded secrets, the government should take the public into confidence about all important aspects of India’s nuclear policy.
The next important step the new government must take is to raise the defence budget from the present 2.28 per cent of the DGP to 3.5 per cent, a figure that has been found by various think tanks to be sustainable for the economy as well as the minimum necessary to enhance defence preparedness. If an additional 0.5 per cent annual outlay is required to finance India’s nuclear force structure for ‘credible, minimum deterrence’, it will have to be provided.
Hard decisions need to be taken regarding weapons acquisitions with large financial outlays. Decisions concerning modernisation and upgrading projects, such as the replacement of old tanks like the Vijayant, the acquisition of 155 mm towed and self-propelled guns, weapon locating radars and equipment for low intensity conflict for the army can no longer wait.
Internal security has suffered for want of due attention. The army’s prolonged involvement in counter-insurgency operations detracts from its ability to train and prepare for its primary role.
However, when the Central and State governments internal security forces find it difficult to effectively defeat a foreign-sponsored ‘proxy war, the army has to be called out.
Dealing with the various insurgencies threatening security requires an inter-ministerial approach. Above all, it requires political courage and vision to evolve and implement a comprehensive national policy.