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May 23, 2001

'5'

GROUP OF MINISTERS' REPORT ON "REFORMING THE NATIONAL SECURITY SYSTEM"

    A comprehensive systemic overhaul of the country's security and intelligence apparatus in keeping with the technological revolution and the need for integrated management structures was unfolded by the Group of Ministers (GOM) in a report submitted by them to PM on February 26, 2001. The GOM had been set up in April 2000 to review the national security system in its entirety and in particular to consider the recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee and formulate specific proposals for implementation. The GOM under the Chairmanship of Shri L.K. Advani also included the Defence Minister, External Affairs Minister and Finance Minister.

    The GOM held 27 meetings in all. In order to facilitate its work, it had set up 4 Task Forces one each on Intelligence Apparatus, Internal Security, Border Management and Management of Defence. These Task Forces were multi-disciplinary in character and were made up of acknowledged experts.

    The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) considered the GOM report on 11th May, 2001 and decided that the recommendation in respect of the institution of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) be considered later, after Government is able to consult various political parties. It accepted all other recommendations contained in the GOM report.

    The establishment of an Intelligence Coordination Group (ICG) and Technology Coordination Group (TCG), working in close tandem with National Technical Facility Organisation (NTFO), are among the major elements recommended in the area of Intelligence. The ICG will provide for systematic intelligence oversight at the apex level and inter-alia deal with:

• Allocation of resources to the intelligence agencies

• Consideration of annual reviews on the quality of inputs

• Approve the annual tasking for intelligence collection

• Oversee the functions of intelligence agencies

• Examine national estimates and forecasts

    The Technology Coordination (Group will coordinate and regulate plans for acquisition of all new costly major strategic facilities/equipment by the intelligence agencies and generally oversee the TECHINT capabilities of the intelligence agencies as well as examine issues relating to allocation of funds for this purpose. The NTFO will. inter-alia plan design set up and operate any major new strategic and expensive TECHINT facilities as approved by TCG keeping in view the rapid convergence now taking place among hitherto different technologies.

    The appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff, with administrative control over India's Strategic Forces Command, as the focal point for military advice to the Government, a holistic 15-20 year Defence Perspective Plan, subject to rigorous inter and infra service prioritisation backed by a Defence Procurement Board that gives it teeth, and the creation of a joint Services Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) are among other critical elements in the new higher defence management structure. In addition, the progressive decentralisation of decision making and delegation of powers to Service Headquarters is envisaged with the latter becoming Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence rather than "Attached Offices".

    Defence information relations are to be revamped at headquarters together with quick-responding media cells in field formations.

    The establishment of a National Defence University will help imbue governance with an appropriate strategic culture.

    "Civil defence" and the mobilisation of civil society have not been ignored. The Economic Intelligence Council is to be refurbished and given a wider mandate. The State Police and Central para-military forces are to be modernised with a new orientation being given to weapons, equipment and training. :

    Border Management is to be re-fashioned on a one-border-one-force principle so as to obviate problems of conflict in command and control and Sack of accountability arising from a multiplicity of forces on the same border. They are to be used exclusively for border guarding activities and not, as a rule, withdrawn for internal security disturbances etc. They are furthermore to be appropriately strengthened, trained and equipped with weapons on par with related army units when deployed on similar tasks. The Coast Guard is to be strengthened and a specialised Marine Police to be raised in all coastal States and island territories. Sanctity of Indian airspace is to be safeguarded inter-alia through procurement of additional low level transportable radars, integrated air command and control systems, integration of national radar resources, revamp of airspace management of coastal and island territories etc.

    These structures will be backed up by a rejuvenated Civil Defence Organisation, village and ward defence committees and a revamped criminal justice system backed by laws and regulations appropriate to emerging circumstances. The programme to institute a multi-purpose National Identity Card is to be vigorously pursued, commencing with all border districts.

    Modalities are to be evolved for involving youth in national service in conformity with the spirit of Article 51 A(d) of the Constitution quite apart from expanding the NCC and Territorial Army.

    In a remarkably short span of a little more than a year since the Kargil Review Committee reported, the GOM and the four Task Forces set up by it, have completed a very intensive and exhaustive analytical exercise through an interactive and participatory process involving field operatives, users, the scientific community and civil and military decision-makers. What has emerged therefore is a closely deliberated and widely accepted .programme of action, ports of which ore already on the ground or in the process or implementation. These touch on the most sensitive and complex iss'ues and institutions of national security in its widest sense and position the country to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century.

    The new structures anticipate current and emerging security threats: nuclear-missile, cyber-information. technological innovation and, not least, international Terrorism, low intensity conflict and proxy war. These are new and innovative organisational platforms capable of flexible responses and not Just upgradations of yesterday's systems. The participation of key political players, National Security Adviser, Cabinet Secretary, the Services. Paramilitary, Police and Intelligence Chiefs, and the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government in the entire exercise ensures the necessary political will, financial commitment and operational backup to secure what constitutes radical systemic change.