This an IDF analysis of the dire need for a one point Military Commander that India lacks for higher leadership that India and has sorely missed.
We have forgotten, India had a De Facto CDS Parsi by luck in the 1971 war for Victory ! There is no CDS or C-in-C and PM runs the Government through Constitutional Cabinet Control, perforce as a C-in-C too.
In the 1965 war the PM Shastri asked Navy not to join. In the 1971 war (Mrs Gandhi accepted a De Facto CDS) and Kargil half war (PM Vajpayee to Army Chief JO KARNA HAI KARO…..not in writing) showed that all security decisions were by PM with no one point of advice as Chiefs seldom easily agree on major issues, as many Defence Secretaries have said, and pre -Kargil lack of military actions depicted.
No Chief has been able to get the other two to agree on OROP to goad an end to the imbroglio. In 1971 Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw took over as de-facto CDS to ACM Pratap Lal’s ire. It’s in Lal’s book and IAF did not want CDS, Radm Monty Khanna says IAF does not like Theatre Commands !
When Adm Sushil Kumar was being made CDS by RM George Fernandes a COSC paper was readied, guard and band and a residence were being planned, but the IAF Chief was reluctant to sign the COSC paper that Defence Secretary awaited ! It has remained since, despite Committees by Arun Singh, K Subrahmanyam and Naresh Chandra.
In India the President is the C-In-C only in a ceremonial name and a signing authority like the Queen in Britain, but she is apolitical ! There lies the difference.
IDF adds Chanakya wrote, “The power of the King (PM in India) lies in his mighty arms”, ….aka the Fine Apolitical Nuclear Military of India. Chanakya added, “the security of the citizens in peace time is very important because ‘State’ is the only savior.”
In that light, the position and responsibilities of the NSA an Ex Policeman & IB National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval for the internal and external security of India in a non Constitutional Ministerial Rank in the last four years, has become prime for all aspects of Security and goes beyond the notification in the Gazette Notification of 281/6/9-TS of 19/4/1999 to head NSC.
PM Modi one of India’s most dynamic astute Prime Ministers as Defacto C-In-C must have felt the need to have a CDS, so the mantle has fallen on the NSA beyond what the Gazette suggests, and rightly so, especially after Doklam, when media spoke of war. Deaths in anti terror in the valley has become routine for the Security Forces needs national action.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi a right wing energetic bachelor leader has proved to be a tall nationalist leader too, and promised to stop CPEC through India’s POK and get it back. PM has militarily supported a weak Bhutan. PM Modi has travelled extensively to numerous countries, and has been on the move 2/5th of his time and met 75 world leaders more than once. NSA invariably travelled with him and would be privy to all security matters of state, as India now tries to balance residual Russian military help with a big tilt to USA, with a hand extended to China for peace. Wuhan has cooled issues for China to consolidate, but is worried with India rising with QUAD !
NSA Doval has also travelled to Bangkok to meet Pakistan NSA Gen Janjua at a time when there is no official truck with Terrorist Pakistan which is gung ho to complete a CPEC with China, to revive it’s ailing economy. And now Imran Khan offers two steps of friendship. PM needs a CDS in these troubled times, for Tri Service actions, and MOD looks to PMO where NSA resides and can travel incognito.
NSA’s position is pivotal in PMO. It makes him more than an Advisor who has had played a tactical role for India’s security to deal with the Service Chiefs, MOD, Intelligence and Home Ministry in the Pathankot attack and in Eastern and Western surgical strikes and China border with a prime position and handles the Nuclear Forces and nuclear submarines supervising the Strategic Forces Commander (SFC), for the Nuclear Command Authority(NCA) and aides PM for decision making so DRDO and BARC cores would be in his ambit.
In the anti terror strikes in the valley the Army, Police, CRPF and BSF act jointly possibly under the Senior most and Delhi is kept in the loop for Inter Ministerial actions as it is Governor’s rule so politics are reduced.
Indians thinking is driven by the edicts of Ramayan which makes Ram an Avtar of Vishnu so dear to the Hindutva brigade to revere, and Mahabahrata where Krishna is also an Avtar of Vishnu. As per the norms of war during Mahabharat a disarmed warrior should not be attacked with arms, but it also says wrongs should be righted for Dharma.
On critical occasions Lord Krishna in Mahabharat was interested only victory as the ends, and not in the means for victory. Lord Krishna overlooked or bypassed some important principles.
Lord Krishna did not fight but directed the Pandava’s CDS Arjun to victory even over Dronacharya by getting Yudishtar to declare his son dead (Ashwathama Mrityu) as a ruse when only a elephant had died, and making Karan’s chariot get stuck so that Karan lowered his invincible bow to clear his Chariot’s wheel. Arjun felled his step brother Karan born of holy union of his mother Kunti with the Sun(Surya). It is accepted Dharma in India, mixed with Karma !
It is in that light India’s military, and Indians should welcome the fact that PM Modi like Lord Krishna has been very practical and not a theoretician as far as establishing righteousness is concerned with Demonet and a hurried GST to eradicate ills, prosecute corrupt and given NSA Doval a larger role to head a Defence Planning Commission (DPC) which was inescapable as the Theatre Commands as a prelude to CDS became an impossible task for the remaining period of this Government to execute.
It took President XI Jinping more than four years to set up six Theatre Commands with long deliberations, after weeding the corrupt military bosses.
PM must have realized the Defence Secretary is junior to the three Chiefs, and yet in the order of business for the Government DefSec is responsible for the Defence of India. Cab Sec has become administrative. The longest serving Chief takes over as the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and tenures at times are a few months, as will be in 2019. The Chairman COSC can act on issues that are supported by the other Chiefs. The aspects of Intelligence-DIA and Nuclear under the Strategic Forces Commander are under the NSA, who can now use VIP planes and facilities like Chiefs.
The Theatre Commands reportedly ordered by PM after the Commander’s Conference a IMA Dehradun last year requires a Common Code of Conduct and Law and re-organisation of the three services. An interim order has been issued to the only Tri service Command in the Andmana & Nicobar to avoid seniority disputes. It will need a personnel policy what to do with excess 30 Three Star Officers and few 100 two star officers. Hence NFU breathes and Army Chief recommends abolition of the Brigadier rank in one brush.
That’s called Jugad which works better than long planning and DPC should be able to hone India’s security better with understanding. GOI will now have a one point security adviser with Chiefs, even if it overshadows MOD, which becomes like a post office, most times. The swift Rafale contract and the off sets issue to Reliance showed that.
DPC has held two meetings as pace accelerates. PM moves in a hurry and NSA keeps in step. The bureaucracy worry Military would run their files and reduce their clout.
So the Defence Planning Commission (DPC) with the three service chiefs and Secretaries Defence and Home comes as a pleasant surprise from PMO for many, not old wine in a new bottle.
If it achieves a Strategy, Jointmanship and Resource Planning it will be God sent like the victory of the Pandavas. The report will go to the Defence Minister. Such a step was needed but India follows no one method, can go two steps forward and one step back, which gives India success. Shan Na Varuna.