25 January 2016
The Pathankot attack revealed weaknesses in our intelligence, police and security procedures. While all of these need to be addressed, there are larger issues, which can have far more disastrous consequences for national security, needing attention.
The issue is defence reforms, initiated in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil War, ignored by the two UPA administrations and again brought to life by the current government. In an important speech at the combined commanders conference last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi challenged his defence minister and senior military commanders to reform their “beliefs, doctrines, objectives and strategies”. This is nothing less than appealing for a paradigm shift, echoing the sentiments of generations of military reformers. The defence minister, who has publicly supported defence reform, has his task cut out for him. Unfortunately, he shouldn’t count on support from civilian bureaucrats in his ministry. It’s also far from assured if the current generation of senior military officers is up to this task. In short, while the PM’s vision is bold, its implementation faces formidable obstacles. Pathankot should remind him and his security managers that India lives in a dangerous neighbourhood and should focus on strengthening its military.
It’s an open secret that former PM Manmohan Singh was keen to undertake some defence reform. His office was the driving force behind the Naresh Chandra Committee, established in 2011. It recommended the creation of a permanent chairman, chiefs of staff committee — a less than perfect nomenclature for the chief of defence staff (CDS). For the first time, all three service chiefs had supported creating such a post. However, then Defence Minister A.K. Antony was not enthusiastic. Civilian bureaucrats in his ministry also shared his scepticism.
… The writer is assistant professor in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU, Singapore.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 25/01/2016