By Lt Gen (retd) SRR Aiyengar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
“National Security is a ‘National Priority'... Indeed, making India strong and self reliant... economically, socially and militarily is our foremost duty to our motherland, to ourselves and to our future generations …. ‘thinking’ is the key to progress and ‘non thinking’ is distraction from vision. When a Nation does not think, smaller minds over- power it”. ... Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, Former President of India
1. The security and defence policies of any state are rooted in the perceptions of its interests and how best these may be protected and promoted. The most important duty of any government is maintaining the freedom and integrity of its territory and its people. Most states will also seek to secure a range of broader interests-political, economic, trading and social. Hence, security policy reflects the broader foreign policy and economic interests of the nation; it is designed to protect and, if necessary, defend them. Thus Security is abroad and enduring concept. It encompasses maintaining internal order within the state and the measures necessary to promote national interests and to prevent challenges to them arising. Where necessary, it includes deterring or defending against external aggression and coercion.
2. The traditional concept of national security has undergone fundamental changes over the last few decades. In today's world, military might alone does not guarantee either sovereignty or security. The more realistic and comprehensive approach to national security also includes economic strength, internal cohesion and technological prowess. The fundamental security of the individual citizen includes security of life and property, food security, energy security, clean environment, education and health. A strong sense of nationalism and good governance also form an integral part of national security. Security implies the ability to retain political and economic sovereignty and autonomy of decision making in an era of globalization and increasing economic interdependence. Although the threat from nation-states as entities has declined, international and state-sponsored terrorism, often motivated by fundamentalist ideologies, has emerged as a major threat to international stability. Regardless of the decreasing control of governments on the citizens' lives, people still look towards the leadership to provide security, stability and an environment conducive to personal growth.
Concept of National Security
3. Defining the concept of security has been a major preoccupation for all analysts. Security and insecurity are the two faces of the same coin. Despite its importance, the concept of security has never been fully defined. Historically, the concept of security used to rest on a simple construct with a narrow focus. The old concept of security was locked in the ideological struggle between the two super powers. The developing countries, having won their independence only recently, were extra sensitive to any real or perceived threats to their national identities. The purpose of ensuring security was to protect the state and thereby its citizens. In the post cold war era, there is widespread recognition that neither security nor its provisions can any longer be understood in these simplistic terms alone. As economic compulsions and the global environment reduce the threat of an all out wars between nations, a new kind of ‘Fourth Generation’ warfare involving terrorism, internal destabilization, economic blackmail etc designed to undermine the sovereignty of a nation has arisen. In addition, sociological factors like increasing population, environmental degradation, depletion of resources, fundamentalism etc are escalating tensions that threaten the security fabric of a nation. These non- military threats are of considerable importance in the security scheme of nations. Thus, Dr Henry Kissinger’s definition is very apt: "National Security Policy ... In its widest sense, comprises every action by which a society seeks to assure its survival or to realize its aspirations internationally”. Basically a nation has security when it does not have to sacrifice its legitimate interests to avoid war and is able, if challenged to maintain them by war.
4. In recent analysis on economic development, economists have been stressing the central importance of, what is called “human security”, that is, economic well being conjoined with social and cultural development. In this arena, the vital economic determinant of national security is economic sufficiency. In this regard, the three key determinants of national security for any developing country like India will be food security, energy security and access to new technologies. Today it is not sufficient for security to be viewed in purely military terms alone. Non – military threats have assumed greater significance as part of and a consequence of globalisation.
5. Thus it can be appreciated that national security signifies a harmonized status when external and internal interests are ensued to achieve national aims and objectives and to secure its core values. It is a very complex and intricate synthesis of geo–political, social, economic, cultural, educational, scientific, environmental, industrial, defence, and nuclear policies paradigm of a country. A very simplistic definition of National Security could be:
“National Security is concerned with the protection, preservation and furtherance of the Core values of a nation against both internal and external threats.”
What are Core Values?
6. Definition. Values are those characteristics of human society which set norms, exert control and influence the thinking, willing, feeling and actions of individuals. Values are enduring beliefs which give an overall direction to a nation's policies. These are the ideals of society based on social, religious, moral and ideological principles and practices prevalent in a nation. As values form the very basis of a nation state, they are most important and they cannot be violated with prejudice to the very existence of the state. The inculcation of values has been cherished as a noble goal of all societies of all times and India has been no exception to this. Our culture, heritage and traditions over a period of time have invoked some uniquely Indian values. These values have been enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution of India which lays the firm foundation of a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic. It secures for all her citizens: social, economic and political justice, liberty of thought, expression, faith, belief and worship, equality of status and of opportunity; fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual; and the unity and integrity of the nation. And it is these core values that India upholds in the international system. All these provisions along with the independence of the judiciary are the cornerstones of Indian value system.
7. National interests are some of the values translated into concrete goals which comprise of intermediate and long-term policy objectives. They depend on history, geography, national character and values, economic and military capability, all of which collectively determine the national interest at any point of time, thus making them both specific and dynamic in nature. They are constantly reviewed taking into consideration changes taking place in those factors which have a bearing on their evolution and identification. It is this specificity and dynamism of national interest that makes it an extremely complex phenomenon defying a simple and valid definition, and which must be understood in all its implications. An element of subjectivity is thus inevitable in any attempt at defining national interest in general. Today, the concept of the national interest is an important consideration in international relations where pursuit of the national interest is the foundation of the realist school. These political realists wish to differentiate their policies from "idealistic" policies that seek either to inject morality into foreign policy or promote solutions that rely on multilateral institutions which might weaken the independence of the state.
8. Components. The national interest of a state is multi faceted. Primary concern is the state's survival and security. In the wider sense it implies ensuring national security, safeguarding territorial integrity, political independence, pursuing national development and economic prosperity and maintaining or enhancing national prestige and reputation or pride and self- respect or national honor. It comprises of the following sub-sets:-
(a) Security. Security is fundamental need of a nation and covers a wide canvas. However, the meaning and significance of security as a component of the national interest of a state in contemporary international relations could be summarized as follows:-
(i) Preservation of territorial integrity, sovereignty and life and property of the people. The order of priority of these elements would depend on the circumstances at any particular time.
(ii) Internal security as it is relates to the very existence of the state or which would weaken or strengthen external security.
(iii) Long term and durable security which results from economic development, nation building and a non-belligerent foreign policy.
(iv) Military security within the frontiers and security through development of international law and world bodies like United Nations (UN), to ensure collective security.
(b) Political Independence. Freedom to identify the needs of the people, harnessing all the resources available, deciding on the best course of action for the betterment of the people without influence or coercion or blackmail is an important attribute of any state’s national interests. Sovereignty cannot be subjugated if the country has to progress
socially or economically.
(c) National Development. Security is only a minimum guarantee that is necessary for the ultimate realization of all political, economic and social potentialities which is the main responsibility of a modern state. The correlation of foreign policy and national development is a function of type of state – developed, developing or under-developed.
Developing countries like India, who are in a position of making maximum use of foreign policy for purposes of national development be it be field of defence, technical collaboration, export promotion, foreign trade, foreign aid or grants or loans, etc, can initiate diplomacy of economic development and state building. Economic prosperity is fundamental to national development and hence any activity that ensures continuous growth and prosperity has become a critical part in determination of national interest.
(d) National Prestige. No foreign policy can be pursued in isolation as it is to be followed in the worldly arena where there are other players promoting their own national interests. Seldom do national interests converge and hence it is a competing game. Nation’s position in the world order is dependent on its ability to influence others through various means available at its disposal, economic, technology, military and control of international organizations. Position in turn permits a nation to steer global debate towards securing its national interest.. Hence retaining or improving one’s power and prestige in the world order is part of the national interest.
9. Interpreting National Interests. What is in national interest and what is not, is quite often at variance depending upon the analyst. However in India it is the government of the day that decides by mainly analyzing the issue of concern in the light of above mentioned components. We have to be clear or select reasonable ends to be pursued abroad and also efficiently organize resources needed i.e. intellectual, material and emotional to accomplish those ends. Here is where the management of national security concerns becomes all the more important. The need for institutionalized arrangement, which can be entrusted with the task of evolution, formulation, execution and not forgetting monitoring of national security strategy, has hardly been contested.
National Security Architecture
10. At the Grand Strategic level, in a democratic set-up, the Cabinet controls al the various means at the government’s disposal to resolve the crisis: diplomatic, economic and other instruments, of which military action tends to be the final resort. As it would be obvious, decision making is at the core of all planned activities, a process of choosing better alternatives, to achieve a goal. The architecture must be so designed to provide the conceptual base for the intellectual material needed for decision making. Political direction is paramount, expressed within national and international laws as it provides the legal basis for the use of military force. Effective leadership at the national level is essential to provide clarity of direction and to inspire the effort and self-sacrifice demanded in a conflict. Many countries have designed/created their own organizational set-up to suit their ethos, history, tradition and inputs from the academia and industry. In our country, the setting up of ‘National Security Council (NSC)’ was a landmark event. It was formed in 1998 and its purpose was to undertake the country’s first strategic defence review and formulate a doctrine while keeping in mind the long term security options. A standing panel composed of the Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister, Finance Minister and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission oversees the functioning of NSC.India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) serves as the link between the NSC and other support structures. The Kargil Conflict and the aftermath the “Kargil Review Committee” gave the country yet another chance to have a re-look at the security apparatus and Higher Defence Management. The Government also appointed a “Group of Ministers (GOM)” to examine the recommendations of the four task forces and put up their considered views for placing before the Cabinet. This, it is believed to be the country’s most comprehensive National Security document. Many of the recommendations have already been implemented except one vital recommendation regarding the appointment of ‘Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)’ is yet to be implemented. Few countries in the world have evolved the institution of CDS, who is the ultimate source of military advice to Ministers. The Service Chiefs, Army, Navy and Air Force, as the professional head of their Services, offer expert advice to the CDS on the employment of their forces and the strategic direction of operations.
Nature of Defence
11. Defence is the military contribution to National security and is a major element of a government’s wider security policy. Defence policy specifies the structure and capabilities of the armed forces and guides the contribution they make to the achievement of country’s defence and economic policies. The principal purpose of a democratic state’s armed forces is to provide the potential for the application of force to ensure the security of the nation, the freedom of its people and the promotion of its interests. The armed forces can be used for a variety of other tasks, short of conflict, to promote and protect national interests. The possession of credible military capability confers influence and, allied to manifest intent, provides a deterrent against aggression and coercion. Military capability underpins diplomacy and, used judiciously, can encourage stability within which broader national interests can be pursued.
The Components of Defence
12. The principal components of define are its armed forces, an organization to make decisions and a means of implementing them These components need to draw on a wide range of conceptual, moral and material resources throughout the country and abroad. In addition, the armed forces require a substantial supporting infrastructure, both civilian and military, assured budgetary support and a vibrant research and development base. A brief explanation of each of these components follows.
13. Decision Making. This is the central component, which remains under political control and draws upon both the conceptual and the moral base. It must provide sound policy and strategy, efficient allocation of resources, an effective crisis management capable of providing a balanced response to any situation, and clear strategic direction of operations. The formulation of policy must take into account of national aims and obligations, the geo-strategic context, potential threats to security, politics, economics, doctrine and capabilities and intentions of likely allies. Policy formulation is evolutionary and continuous anticipating long-term developments in the nature of conflict, including technology. It is backed by scientific research and analysis and realistic assessment of current military effectiveness of the armed forces. Moral base underpins the motivation of the armed forces. It is founded on public support and the political will of the government to maintain and, when necessary, use effective armed forces. The moral base also embraces the national will to ensure the welfare of military personnel including the retired fraternity and the efficient management to provide it.
14. Implementation. Associated with the decision making process is the equally vital ‘implementation’ process. Implementation requires an established and effective command and control structures with each organs of the Government including its armed forces and with it a swift and reliable communications and information systems. Planning for all contingencies should be based on organizations founded in peace that can be progressively developed, if necessary, as the threat increases. There is also the need for the military to render professional advice, command, control, strategic leadership and the vision and war fighting expertise required for effective and strategically relevant capability development.
15. The Armed Forces. The armed forces provide an important and distinctive strand in the fabric of the Nation. They take pride in the fact in that, as they provide the ideals of integrity, discipline, discipline, professionalism, service and excellence, they contribute immensely to national stability and cohesion. The size, shape and the capabilities of the armed forces should be matched to the security needs and economic circumstances of the state. There is close interaction between the conflicts in the sea; land and air environments and the armed forces must be able to operate in all the three environments as also be able operate together in joint operations. The overall defence making component must be able to apply military force in a coordinated way in each of the environments. Coherent joint warfare emerges as the “silver bullet” for victory in war symbolizing the highest level of force integration. The armed forces comprise, the people, the stores and command organizations, which together with doctrine and training, provide operationally ready military capability. These elements need to be harmonized to stay well trained and equipped professional forces. Only the highest quality, dedicated and well trained personnel with class leaders will be able to succeed in the complex and fast paced environment of future military operations.
16. Material Base. All armed forces require an assured industrial source of equipment and stores. Effective, affordable equipment, which exploits high technology, is essential to provide battle winning edge in modern combat. Equipment procurement is a key function, closely related to national economic and trading policy. Procurement decisions are highly dependent on a sound conceptual base. Moreover, the long development period of much modern equipment require these decisions to be based on an informed assessment of how military affairs are likely to develop over the next 10 to 20 years. Equipment procurement programmes needs to integrate the timely introduction of replacement items, funded and managed on a whole life cycle basis with allowance where appropriate, for planned capability updates during their lifetimes. Where indigenous capability is not able to match the essential requirement, these may have to be obtained through competitive procurement or through collaboration with other countries. Support of equipment and essential services during crisis must be ensured and robustness of some aspects of domestic defence industry may be critical to this.
17. Supporting Infrastructure. Armed forces require an infrastructure of bases, ports, airfields and communications. They also need an organization to store, supply, repair and dispose of equipment and stores. Support is required in other areas, such as medicine and meteorology. Some elements of the infrastructure must be designed specifically for military purposes and owned by the Government. However, in other cases it may be cost effective for facilities and services to be provided by private sector. The essential requirement is the ability of the government to control those assets essential to defence capability. We need to fully comprehend the vital nature of integrated logistic support as it is well established fact that military effectiveness of modern armed forces depends more than ever, on the quality of their logistic support. To meet the requirements of most demanding crises and of general war, it may be necessary for the industry to have the capability for surge capacity and reconstitution. The national communications networks and transport infrastructure provide essential support to routine defence business and in time of crisis to the generation, deployment and recovery of forces on operations. The merchant marine and civilian airlines provide essential strategic lift support when necessary.
18. Research and Development Base. It is recognized the world over that long term technological competence and international competitiveness can only come from a strong foundation of high quality research. Successful Research and Development (R&D) should comprise of a clear focus, excellent management practices, efficient production, adequate funding, and appropriate technology to include imported and indigenous. It also needs a cadre of keen, dedicated and well paid researchers. The presence of competition to ensure quality research is important. Bench marking for facilities, products and processes compatible with prevailing world standards must be ensured. R&D should become a part of an integrated approach to planning, management and financing and sustainable development. Measure must be made to shorten cycle times, particularly for the procurement of strategic systems, enhance program stability, and assured focus on core competencies, while freeing resources for investment in high priority areas. Technology insertion and acquisition agility must ensure that wherewithals needed are able to sustain the armed forces throughout the deployment sequence, from the short-fused start to decisive finish regardless of mission type or duration
19. Budgetary Support/ Allocation. Defence is an economic activity, which involves the commitment of resources to the fulfillment of a purpose. Resources enter the process as inputs of manpower, materials and technical competence. The outputs, which the application yields-military capabilities embodied in warships, field formations, aircrafts, missile squadrons, supported by logistic administration and training elements– serve the purpose. The purpose of defence expenditure depends on circumstances. In war time, the operational aim is easy to define: the attainment of victory or, at least avoidance of defeat. In peacetime however, the objective is more illusive: to attain sense of security. Budget allocations for defence must be related to Threat assessment, Grand Strategy, Technology orientation or roles and missions. The much talked about Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) must parallel the work being done in another revolution namely ‘Revolution in Business Affairs (RBA).
20. Modern conflict will be fought in the spotlight of massive attention by news media. The immediacy of media transmissions can magnify the importance of relatively minor incidents and influence public opinion before the political authority can fully analyze facts, putting additional pressure on political and military leaders. Equally, however, the media can also act as a powerful conduit for positive information to boost morale and to influence public opinion. Media operations also need to persuade third parties that action being taken is right and justifiable and to counter malicious or ill-informed reporting in the theatre of operations. Public support for any military operation must be rooted in an accurate understanding of events and their background. Reports of events can be broadcast virtually as they happen and hence the media operations maxim is to release as much accurate information as possible, as quickly as feasible , subject to only to operational security and safety of own troops.
21. With the phenomenon of globalization and under the label of inter-dependence, academics and practioners began to explore alternative ways of looking at security, challenging the somewhat militarized, balance of power perceptions. The notions of Common security (achieving security with others, not against them) and later Comprehensive security (giving primacy to the requirements of internal stability, national development and social harmony, vulnerability to internal threats and external intervention) marked a significant departure in thinking about security. The import of emerging security issues certainly stretches the traditional thinking about security. The issues tend to be complex, multi-dimensions and trans-national in form and impact.
22. Defence policies specify the structure and capabilities of the Armed Forces and guide the contribution they make to the achievement of country’s defence and security goals. The principal purpose of a democratic state’s armed forces is to provide the potential for the application of force to ensure the security of the nation, freedom of its people and promotion of national interests. The place of the armed forces in the fabric of the nation is indeed unique. On the road to prosperity and development, however lay, a host of challenges which has to be factored in. Peace and security, internal as well as external, is the first and most essential foundation for the nation’s future progress. Fearlessness, can be only attained when security extends to cover, over and above our physical security, our social rights and economic well being to eliminate all forms of vulnerability and discrimination.
1. Constitution of India.
2. Ministry of Defence, Government of India, Annual Reports 2008, 2009.
3. Subhash Kapila, ‘India’s Defence Policies and Strategic Thought-A Comparative Analysis’, Simsid Book, Noida, 2003.
4. National Security-Military Aspects –A Compilation by Rupa &Co , New Delhi-2003.
5. India’s National Security-Annual Review –Edited by Shri Satish Kumar, Routledge, New Delhi-2010.
6. Subrahmanyam. K. , “Shedding Shibboleths—India’s Evolving Strategic Outlook”, New Delhi, 2005.
7. General Sunderji.K. “Vision -2100-a Strategy for the Twenty-First Century”-Delhi, 2003