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[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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> By "systematic" I mean:
> 1.The policy of successive governments, beginning with Nehru to
> weaken command and control structures by disallowing the formation
> of a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) command structure as is the case
> in the U.S. and other countries serious about their defence.
> Ostensibly done to strengthen civilian control over the
> military, it has only succeeded in preventing effective coordination
> in times of crisis, as being witnessed in Kargil.
Firstly, let me seek a clarification: Am I right in understanding that
believe that as a matter of policy "successive governments, beginning
Nehru" have sought to weaken the "command and control structures by
disallowing the formation of a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) command
structure" IN ORDER TO "strengthen civilian control over the military"?
This may very well be the case but whether this has prevented "
coordination in times of crisis, as being witnessed in Kargil" is
debatable. I don't see any instance of lack of coordination between the
armed forces in Kargil. Offcourse, there may be problems that we
are not privy to but if there are then it does not follow that the
problems stem form the lack of a "Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) command
structure" or excessive civilian control over the military.
You cite the case of the US. But if I recall correctly, the
US did not have a JCS till after WW2 ( I may stand corrected here). Has
led to greater inter-services cooperation in the US? Not if we look at
evidence in the operations in Grenada, the hostage rescue operation in
Iran, operations in Lebanon, and even in the recent operation in
Inter-service rivalry is also known to be fierce in procurement matters
and it was the congress which forced the DOD to form a combined special
operations command (SOC) against the wishes of the individual services.
The point I am trying to make is that cooperation between the services
both a function of the political will of the civilian command authority
and the service doctrines and the overall military culture.
> 2. Defence spending has ranged between 0.5% and 1.5% of GDP since
> the 1950s. Currently about 1.1%, it is far lower than any of our
> immediate neighbors/adversaries (Pakistan spends 9% of GDP; China
> 6.5-7% according to latest World Bank estimates). In real
> for inflation) terms, current spending is at the same level as
> 1960, just two years prior to the Chinese aggression.
> Again, this is a deliberate policy. Nehru's Defence Minister
> Krishna Menon used to talk about 'starving' the military to keep it
> "under control". All this despite the fact, that the Indian armed
> forces are probably the most apolitical, loyal and constitutionally
> responsible of any major armed force in the world.
Current spending may be "at the same level as 1960" as a percentage of
GDP but offcourse the GDP today is not what it is in 1960. As for your
comparison of defense spending as a percentage of GDP, what counts is
not so much the percentage of the GDP but the absolute value of the
GDP. Once again you suggest that this is a part of a policy designed to
keep the Indian military "under control". This may have been the case
under Krishna Menon but I doubt whether this is the case now or ever has
been for the most part. We may not be spending enough but that does not
imply that it is a govenrment policy to "starve" the Miliatry. I agree
with you in that " Indian armed forces are probably the most apolitical,
loyal and constitutionally responsible of any major armed force in the
world". Whether this is a result of unambigious civilian control over
or an inherent miliatry ethic or both is an open question.
> My take on this is that if that were true, then why have our
> intelligence agencies failed to come up with even the identities of
> perpetrators of the most heinous crimes of the past decade and a half.
> I'm not talking about capture and conviction, I'm talking
> identification. The roster starts with the Kanishka Explosion of 1985,
> to the Bombay Stock Exchange blasts of 1993 to the Coimbatore Bombings
> of last year.
I don't disagree with you in noting that there have been intelligence
failures in the past and even the present. Each of the cases you cited
complicated and but we need to be careful in judging the extent to
which intelligence failure contribute to our inability to acheive
satisfactory closure in these cases. As I said in my previous mail,
are problems with our intelligence services but they MAY not be a lack
funding. I don't know if India's intelligence budget is unclassified but
I would be useful if we had some reliable estimate of it.
> Intelligence consists of both Humint (human intelligence)
> and Elint (electronic intelligence). The former RAW
> chief and current J&K governor, Girish Saxena has said that we have
> devoted resources to both Humint and Elint inadequate to the task at
Mr. Girish Saxena may very well be right in stating that we have devoted
inadequate resources to Humint and Elint. But is that due to bad funding
and allocation decisions or due to unwillingness of the government to
with the requisite funds? I guess the case of the $700 toiletseat comes
mind! Finally, have you ever heard of a bureaucrat state that he has
enough funds to ge the job done? Incidently, this is universally true
no preference for nationality. Look at the CIA after the Chinese bombing
> Also, the charter of RAW, unlike say that of the Mossad, prevents
> it from mounting counter-terrorism operations further reducing its
> effectiveness. Perhaps if we knocked off a few of the
> associates/sponsors in Pakistan of these self styled jihad fighters
> (aka thugs) currently holed up in the mountains, we might put the fear
> of "their God" in the rest of them.
But I donot think that this has anything to do with the intelligence
failures. We have forces who are specially trained for the sort of
operation that you have in mind. As far as I know, the CIA and most
agencies have similar restrictions. I think the task of the intelligence
agencies is to collect, analyse, and dissiminate intelligence products.
The rest is for the political establishment to figure out.
> My response is that the purpose of R&D is not to reinvent the wheel,
> but to come up with something original. We have to remember that
> whatever other countries are willing to sell us are "hand-me-downs"
> not top of the line technology. If we really want to be ahead of the
> curve, we have to devote the necessary resources and
> make full use of our abundant human capital. Otherwise, we're destined
> to be stuck with second-rate technology which puts our armed forces at
What I had in mind in referring to "reinventing the Wheel" were projects
like the LCA,MBT,Nuclear submarine and so on. As I have explained in the
previous mail ( in response to Bhuwan's mail), I don't think it is worth
our while to invest in these projects for the reasons I stated there. I
guess the crucial question is how do we go about deciding what the
looks like. Once we can figure that out the rest follows quite
But this brings us back to the issue of what sort of defense enviroment
we think we will face in the short,medium,and long terms. For instance,
we think that we are going to engage the Americans in conventional
then we must invest in technologies for detecting low-observable
and so on... .
> True. However, given the above state of affairs, I would not call my
> position "knee jerk". Indeed, to use other "knee" analogies, we have
> succeeded in cutting our military off at the knees, which is probably
> why the knees of our political establishment begin to buckle,
> we are faced with a Kargil-like crisis.
This was truly a poor choice of words on MY part. I did not mean to
assert that your reaction was "knee jerk". Clearly, to suggest that
be offensive and unreasonable and If I have offended you then I
sincerely apologise and I take back that part of my statement with
regrets. Clearly, My reaction was the "knee-jerk" one!!!
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