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‘With the Fourth four star General, MoD babus' mind-set also must change’
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 8/14/2012 12:00:00 AM

A decade after the Kargil Review Committee report, the government in June 2011 constituted a fourteen member committee headed by Naresh Chandra, a former bureaucrate to review the defence management and propose recommendations for implementation of major defence projects and ways and means to strengthen national security. The committee submitted its final report to the govt. in May 2012.

Naresh Chandra Committee recommendations included creating post of a permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the wings of the armed forces.

The other recommendations include:
-Creation of a new post of Intelligence Advisor to assist the NSA and the National Intelligence Board on matters relating to coordination in the functioning of intelligence committee
-Amendment to Prevention of Corruption Act to reassure honest officers, who take important decisions about defence equipment acquisition, so that they are not harassed for errors of judgement or decision taken in good faith.
-Expediting the creation of new instruments for counter-terrorism, such as the National Intelligence Grid and National Counter Terrorism Centre.
-Deputation of officers from services up to director''s level in Ministry of Defense
-Measures to augment the flow of foreign language experts into the intelligence and security agencies, which face a severe shortage of trained linguists
-Promotion of synergy in civil-military functioning to ensure integration. To begin with, the deputation of armed services officers up to director level in the Ministry of Defence should be considered.
-Early establishment of a National Defence University (NDU) and the creation of a separate think-tank on internal security.

These recommendations have been extensively discussed in the media reports.
The former Vice-Chief of Air Staff, Satish G. Inamdar has sent his detailed comment on this issue to Bharat Defence Kavach. We present here his comment. -Editor

 

 Air Marshal (Retd.) Satish G. Inamdar comment on Naresh Chandra Committee Report

Air Marshal (Retd.) Satish G. Inamdar

New Delhi: Is the Chairman, Joint Chiefs in the US, in Pakistan etc. the approximate template for the proposed ''Chairman COSC''? Notwithstanding the change in designation of the three Services Chiefs (from C-in-C to Chiefs of Staff), in 1954, they continue to be ‘commanders’ of their respective Service. In contrast, in most Western democracies, the Chiefs of Staff are genuinely ‘staff officers’. The heads of Operations, Personnel, Logistics etc.there, report directly to the Defence Minister. Only the Theatre Commanders are ‘commanders’ and they also report to the Minister. Our Chiefs of Staff, in comparison, have far more powers than their counterparts in many, if not most, progressive Western democracies. Is that going to change?

Whichever way, any new apex Armed Forces structure being sought to be put in place would have to necessarily pre-suppose a considerable change of mindset & attitude towards matters military in India in general and in the politico-bureaucratic establishment (its public pronouncements notwithstanding!) in particular, if it is to deliver with the necessary measure of speed, substance & success. Removal of an inexplicably needless, baseless but lurking trust deficit towards the military must become part of such a change. This would have to include a far greater appreciation and formal understanding of the Armed Forces among our government functionaries, than what perhaps obtains today.

For the higher direction of war in India to be meaningfully effective, inspiring and substantive, in time and space, the present-day near-complete dependence (self inflicted injury?!) of the political establishment on the civilian bureaucracy, for most inputs on the Armed Forces, has to either go or the bureaucracy must evolve/ get structured differently from what it has done hitherto or, preferably, both!

The central concern is a frustrating lack of appropriate and/ or timely govt. response to many crucial military issues (till they turn into a full blown crisis!) due either to innate inability, indifference or overwhelming preoccupation with party, legislative & election-politics of many political bosses. This gets compounded by a not un-common lack of genuine empathy & informed insight into military affairs in sections of the bureaucracy. A palpable urge/ mandate for majestic oversight  sans accountability on the part of some of these officials only makes a bad situation worse where inadequate or de facto lack of delegation of powers (financial & administrative) often hampers many issues affecting not only capital acquisitions but also the day-to-day running of the three wings of the Armed Forces of the Union.

THIS is where a major difference between the MEA & the MoD might become interesting to note: bureaucrats in the former spend a continuous lifetime on the same job, studying & mastering foreign affairs & policy. Those in Mod, in sharp counterpoint, are invariably if not always a floating, rotating and itinerant population which, as a result, gets to deal with complex military, defence, security and strategy matters only during its short, widely spaced tenures in MoD! Is that desirable if true? Can or must that be changed?

Even granting the basic difference, that while IFS bureaucrats are also the MEA''s operating arm in the field, the field operations arm of the MoD is not its IAS officers but the three uniformed Services, the near total and consistent absence of MoD bureaucrats (past & present) at the various Defence, security & strategy related conclaves in Delhi, comes as a surprise, if not dismay! One always sees a large number of former IFS officers not just attending such events regularly, but also contributing majorly & meaningfully!

It may be that the role of MoD bureaucrats with regard to the Armed Forces & Defence, as formulated by govt., is one of pure ''oversight & control''  and does not, therefore, require them to either possess a working/ hands-on knowledge of the military or to be given continuity of service in that Ministry. If so, does that role need redefinition, in the interest of expediency and dispatch? In the MEA, the IFS is a dedicated, single purpose cadre, even their clerical staff is mostly permanent, unlike in the MoD! There were no doubt good reasons for this dispensation in the MoD in the beginning, but is it not now time to take a second look?

One possible way to redress this situation is to review the ''Generalist'' nature of the IAS which may have been progressively overstretched/ overestimated insofar as at least Defence is concerned; the other is to fill most officer posts in Mod at all levels with a mix of IAS, IFS & military officers with suitable backgrounds and experience and in the numbers needed, in order to speedily and empathetically meet the overall needs of the Armed Forces, in the 21st century.

A similar staffing-pattern mix at Services HQ can also be examined, concurrently, if it promises to improve matters! One thing this will certainly lead to is the actual integration of the MoD & the Army-Navy-Air Force, which has been tom-tommed for many years but has only the changed nomenclature of two Wings of the Armed Forces to show for it! Nothing more, either in spirit or in substance: lip service at its best....or worst!!
Whether some kind of specialization in Defence and continuity of service in MoD is necessary among bureaucrats, as it happens in External Affairs, may brook careful examination and serious thought. 

As regards China & Pakistan, there cannot be any ''ifs'' & ''buts'' about their long term designs and agenda. Those are rooted in the very concepts of Islam, the birth of Pakistan (as Pakistan & few others see it) & the ''Middle Kingdom'' (as China nurtures it)-leaving little room for analysis, speculation, guess work or prognosis by anyone, at any level with a modicum of a sense of history! It does not perhaps need a Metternich, Nietzsche or Huntington to tell us that both these concepts (and hence these two countries) deep down (AND axiomatically!) negate peaceful & equitable co-existence with others and this will inexorably lead to conflict (economic, armed or both) with them!

If these two countries choose to not spell it out in as many words or to not show it by overt action, it may serve us well to be reminded that ''sheep''s clothing has proverbially been deceptive; wolves may even successfully alter their voices and utterances for a time, but it is for the others never to be taken in and to always remain vigilant and alive to the ugly reality, however well muted/ camouflaged/ sugar coated! 
   
For acquiring a military insurance, those ugly realities urgently call for a rapid, credible & deterrent Indian military capability (both conventional & nuclear) with a demonstrable political WILL TO USE IT quickly & resolutely, if & when called for. For a non-military safeguard, India, with equal urgency, needs rapid, imposing & sustained progress on the econo-agro-techno-scientific-industrial-energy front, to complement her military muscle. Sizeable cross-border & overseas investments and multi-area assistance (in time, quality & quantity), both well planned and with excellent, long-range  follow-through actions is what will ensure India an enduring standing among her immediate neighbours and those farther a field in Asia. This becomes essential for India to be seen by them as a credible, reliable & benevolent big-brother partner in their own march towards welfare and prosperity! Pointedly avoiding making all those mistakes which the Chinese seem to have made in this regard, will serve India extremely well!

An often used unkind word for such smaller, friendly neighbours has been ''Client States''! THOSE are exactly what China has been busy cultivating all around India!

In other words, our belated &/ or laggardly ''Look East'' policy HAS to be accompanied by an aggressive & substantive ''Act East'' practice, if we are to contain China & Pakistan non-militarily within a reasonable time-frame.

To sum up, a mix of credible military might, strong political & national will, sustained agro-techno-economic growth and a continuously friendly/ beholden neighbourhood would alone be India''s best hedge against individual or collusive malevolence by China & Pakistan, without being, seeming or even sounding hostile in the least to either, in any manner----quite independent of the official bonhomie, CBMs, slogan-mouthing, public posturing & pronouncements that must and will need to go on ad infinitum!

At the risk of iteration, unless there''s a change in the present levels of knowledge & appreciation of Defence matters and a clear shift in attitude & mindset towards the armed forces, in the politician-bureaucrat combine, as also outright ejection of the bogey of a ''7 Days in May'' syndrome if & where it exists (as we saw in a section of the Press, recently)-----no matter how subliminal, unstated & un-provable, any exercise in beefing up or streamlining the apex military structure runs the risk of remaining less than complete and effective as also turning out to be a largely paper reform!

Hopefully, the NCC Report will not only start the process of change but also prepare the ground for further changes over the years. It must, unlike the earlier Subrahmanyam Committee and GOM reports, posit the possible and the immediately implementable, as against the ideal, the perfect and the best which in most cases can not be taken forward. However, given the pre-eminence & outstanding track record of the Chairman & the Members of this Committee and the collective hopes of a very large segment in India, it is my belief that one can & should expect a fascinating report: path-breaking in its approach, bold in its content and revolutionary in its recommendations! Anything short of this would be a lamentable anticlimax and a monumentally lost opportunity!

What govt does with the report subsequently is anybody’s (forbidding!) guess! The MoD repositories are deep, dark and cavernous!     

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‘With the Fourth four star General, MoD babu’s mind set must change’

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