Security Strategy

Foundation of National security: Internal Security

“The most fundamental role of the State or the Government that claims to govern it is to provide security of life, limb and property to all its citizens.  The State is defined by its monopoly over violence.  In return it must provide physical security to all.  Only the latter can legitimize the former.  The rule of law is a basic foundation of a modern market economy.   It is a prerequisite for development and equitable economic growth. A country that cannot ensure the rule of law and public security within its borders cannot become a global power.  The writ of the government must be established over the Naxalite dominated interiors of the country and lawlessness (kidnapping and murder industry) eliminated from States/regions of the country where it has become prevalent, because of the abdication of responsibility by the political rulers of these States and the gross failure of governance.  Given the limited capabilities of the governments in these States / Regions they must focus on universal provision of the basic public goods (& quasi-public goods) such as police, courts, roads…(Virmani(2004a).”

The foundation of national security has to be internal security.  Post-Mumbai terror attack, the issue of anti-terrorism organisation has returned to centre stage.  Having an anti-terrorism organization(s) is necessary but not sufficient.  Unless India correct’s its basic system of law and order so that it can protect the innocent and punish the guilty special efforts can only be sustained for a few years, after which they invariably fizzle out or revert to the mean/average quality.  The author has been collecting and narrating horrendous stories about law and order for 20 years. The first time such a story came up about two decades ago, he said, well, Bihar has arrived in Delhi. The most recent story is of an average middle class person arrested and kept in jail for six months and released without charges. Though these are mere examples, there are very serious issues underlying them and India cannot have a sustained and sustainable anti-terrorism strategy unless it does something about them. The solutions are well known:  The Supreme Court order on police reforms needs to be accepted and acted upon – fine tuning and correction of anomalies can always follow.

Foreign Policy Constructs and Narative

“If India is to play the ‘Balance of Power’ game to its advantage the Perspective Planning functions, intellectual effort/output, information/knowledge base and training systems for operational personnel must be re-oriented and strengthened.  Similarly, the conceptual basis of our foreign policy approach to our region (S. Asia, E. & S.E. Asia and W. & C. Asia) must be widened and developed with greater sophistication (Virmani(2006b)).” 

Foreign policy constructs have to be weaved into a foreign policy narrative that can be understood by engaged citizens and the media. For example, one narrative could be the development of S. Asia for all S Asians, an essential element of which is the declaration/creation of South Asia as a terrorism free zone (TFZ). Ideas have power when they can be understood by all.  One has to have the words, sentences and paragraphs that express these ideas in simple terms that resonate with the intelligentsia and media of all relevant countries.  India has a problem of terrorism. It has to globalise it in some way by thinking of ways to by involve the people, convince the people of other countries and get them to help push these things.

Global Intelligence capability

“The Subrahmanyam committee long ago recommended the revamping of institutional structures for intelligence collection, integration, analysis and assessment and others have reiterated these recommendations since then.  This becomes even more imperative in the changing context.  Modern technology must be introduced to upgrade and widen the intelligence network (satellite, internet, radio waves) while strengthening traditional methods of human intelligence (e.g. foreign language training).   We must develop an extensive capability for covert action to address asymmetric threats from non-state actors, fundamentalist terrorists, their handlers/ controllers/ motivators/ financiers (Virmani(2006b)).”

This issue is well known, but perhaps needs some re-orientation from domestic to cross-border or global threats.

Strategic Assets & Technology

“Strategic technology and assets [major defence platforms (submarines, fighter aircraft), nuclear and aero space technology, robotics, communication (interception/ eavesdropping), internet (pattern recognition), radar (stealth, ECM)] are critical to India’s becoming a Global power.   This requires better planning of procurement and development of strategic technology and an integrated view across different organisations and departments currently engaged in them.  Issues like the nature and amount of Offset purchases and the trade-offs between acquisition and development would have to be addressed.  Attention has to be given to specialised education and training of scientists and technicians (perhaps in-house) in nuclear, space, oceanic and other technologies.  The National Security Council should have a special wing that carries out the planning and monitoring of the development of strategic technology and skills” (Virmani(2006b).

Post-nuclear apartheid, a comprehensive and non-ideological view has to be taken to accelerate the flow of nuclear technology into India.  For instance the flow of private FDI into the nuclear and other strategic sectors must be facilitated, for the same reasons that Indian policy since 1991 has generally prefered FDI over FII or debt flows.  The former brings with it new ideas, skills and managerial capabilities that benefit the whole economy beyond the specific firms. India must also encourage and incentivise the acquisition, adaptation and development of Communication-Interception-Security Technology (CIST) and Remotely piloted aircrafts (Predator).  

Defence: Flexible Response

“The nature of the challenge facing India has been evolving over the years.  The nature of constraints under which defense and foreign policy operates will also change – some will loosen others will tighten.  As open violent wars between major powers becoming increasingly unlikely, those who wish us ill have developed indirect means of undermining our security.   We need to increase the range of options available to us to attack the source or fountain head as well as to pay back in the coin that they choose to use or which are more cost effective from our perspective and reduce the potential adversary’s benefit-cost ratio. This requires a sharp increase in capability for unconventional warfare and unconventional means of defense.   A wider range of options must also be developed and/or enhanced for dealing with asymmetric threats from non-state actors, fundamentalist terrorists, their handlers/ controllers/ motivators/ financiers” (Virmani (2006)).

News reports suggest that former Prime Minister of India, Mr. I K Gujral dismantled the limited capacity India had for covert action against non-State actors who have been waging covert warfare against it for decades.  This capability must be rebuilt and enhanced to create effective deterrence against terrorist attacks.

Global Anti-Terror Strategy

India needs to develop a National anti-terror strategy that is part and parcel of a Global anti-terror strategy and vice-versa.  Viewed from another angle, it must help develop a Global anti-terror consensus that views its anti-terror strategy as an essential part of fighting global terror.  The anti-terror strategy would include the following elements:

UN Consensus

India had introduced, several years ago, a resolution on terrorism.  This needs to be pursued in the UN as well as in other forums. India and other democratic countries also need to pursue the development of a globally accepted definition of terror that is consistent with the terrorist problems that they face and the domestic constraints under which the war on terror will have to be fought.  The development of a narrative with which thought leaders across the World can empathize, could be helpful in attaining this objective.

As part of this consensus India could build global public opinion to impose a travel ban and freeze the global financial assets of current and retired members of State intelligent agencies (such as the ISI) associated with terrorists or their activities.

Re-define Aggression and Self Defense

The UNSC definition of aggression and self defense needs to be modified in the light of the increasing importance of non-State actors and the use of failing States or parts of States as a base for cross-border terrorism. India must aim to change the UN definitions of aggression to include irregular guerrilla warfare, terrorism, etc and the definition of self-defense to include attacks against them on the territory of such failing States, regions.  This requires an identification of conditions under which such counter-attack would be acceptable and the development of markers for identifying cross-border terrorism.

Elimination of Terrorist Networks

            Elimination of terror networks was a key objective for India, even before the Mumbai attack, as it has been the target for close to a quarter century.  The author has often asked the question, whether there is any case other case in history, of a large country that was so pacifist as to not take any military action against a neighboring country, that despite being,   

(a)  13% to 19% of its size, trained, financed and supported terrorists to attack the larger country, and simultaneously convinced intellectuals and ayatollahs of the great powers that it was constantly under threat?

(b)  6% to 9% of its size, that allows its territory to be used by terrorists of different varieties and persuasion against a neighbor?

It is an amazing situation that is hard to  understand unless one concludes that there is something fundamentally wrong in India’s conceptualization and approach and it cannot afford this as a great power.

Access to Strategic Technology

            Access to all possible areas of strategic technology must be an important goal.  An important area of technology, where a minor apartheid regime still prevails is Missile and Space technology, which is subject to the Missile Technology Control regime.  India must aim to become a member of this club.  At a more operational level, it must try and acquire pilot less attack aircraft, communication intercept equipment etc. from those countries that posses such technology.