Management of Defence: Towards An Integrated And Joint Vision

Vinod Anand, Senior Fellow



The article deals with the long-standing requirement for restructuring the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Supremacy of civil over military authority in its application to the Indian context has come to mean bureaucratic prevalence at the uppermost level in virtually all defence related decision- making. This antiquated mechanism is in need of replacement by another where uniformed personnel have a greater say as participants in an integrated MoD. The Arun Singh Committee recommendations on the issue have remained unimplemented for over a decade. India remains one of the very few democratic countries where generalists hold sway over generals and all attempts to change the system are repeatedly thwarted. The time is perhaps ripe when a Joint Chiefs of Staff, or some other alternative system such as exist in other major democracies was instituted. The operational, financial and manpower benefits are too many to ignore this demand any further.

"-the Defence Ministry, in effect becomes the principal destroyer of the cutting edge of the military's morale; ironic considering that very reverse of it is their responsibility. The sword arm of the State gets blunted by the state itself."

- Jaswant Singh.1

With the submission of the report of the Task Force on Defence Management the events seem to have completed a full circle. Mr. Arun Singh, Advisor (security), Ministry of External Affairs, who headed this task force handed over his recommendations to the government in end September 2000. Almost a decade earlier, Mr. Arun Singh, the then Minister of State for Defence had headed a Committee on Defence Expenditure and had made wide-ranging recommendations. The committee had members from all the three Services and the MOD. It submitted its report in December 1990 which dealt with organisation and structure for decision-making, planning, management and financial control, acquisition and purchase for Defence Services, management of equipment, logistics support and finally defence manpower and related issues. Some of the important recommendations were on structures for defence decision-making i.e. the reactivation of Defence Minister's Committee (which the present Defence Minister has activated in 1998), creation of an organisation of Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), assisted by Vice Chief of Joint Staff (VCJS) and so on. Apparently, integration of Service Headquarters with MOD was not much deliberated upon then. In the aftermath of Naval Chief's dismissal in December 1998, the Defence Minister had attempted to impart impetus to integration of Service Headquarters and the MOD in January 1999. But such attempts were defeated by bureaucratic 'firewalls'.

For over two decades now, there has been considerable discussion both within the strategic community and in the Indian military literature on the merits and demerits of integration of Service Headquarters and MOD and the concept of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). While there is a broad agreement and wide recognition of the need for an integrated MOD, the bureaucrats have not articulated their views openly as to why this integration should not take place. However, bureaucracy has used subtle and invisible ways to stem any political or military initiative to reform the system. They have played on the fears of politicians over a strong unified military and exploited inter-Services dissonance on CDS/JCS. In fact, they have perfected the British legacy of 'divide and rule'. The recommendations of previous CDE headed by Mr. Arun Singh did not fructify; whether the proposals of Mr. Arun Singh in circa 2000 would be implemented or not, only time will tell. But, as the all-pervasive trend has so far indicated, strong attempts would be made to dilute, and obfuscate the issues and deny the executive power to military in decision-making structures. Like Jaswant Singh states in his book Defending India, "So marked is resistance to change here, and so deep the mutual suspicions, inertia and antipathy, that all efforts at reforming the system have always floundered against a rock of ossified thought.2 Many strategic experts and defence analysts have commented upon the absence of a strategic culture in India.3 Largely, the politicians and bureaucrats lack the insights necessary for managing security and defence affairs. HM Patel, a former Defence Secretary (from 1947-1953) has stated that, "the ignorance of the civil servants in India about military matters is so complete that we may accept it as a self-evident and incontrovertible fact."

According to a survey carried out of approximately three dozen countries, all the Western countries have well integrated defence establishments, among the developing Third World countries there are only four such countries where integrated defence establishments do not exist. And India, with its fourth largest armed forces in the world; the military has been kept isolated from the defence decision-making apparatus. Firstly, the Service HQs are not integrated with MOD and secondly, there is no mechanism to provide a single point, unified military advice to the government. As early as 1958, the Public Accounts Committee was constrained to remark in its report to the Parliament that, "...considerable duplicate effort is involved in the Service Headquarters and the MOD and the possibility of proposals emanating from the senior level at Service HQ being examined by officials in the Ministry who are either junior or lack the necessary expert knowledge."

In post-independent India, our neglect of matters defence has been telling on our defence effort. Our history of national defence is replete with instances of denial of legitimate role of the armed forces in higher management of defence. Even after the 1962 debacle we did not address the shortcomings of our system and continued to persist with an antiquated system. The Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) was first replaced by Emergency Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) and then by Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA). CCPA covered a wide spectrum of subjects and was not as exclusive as DCC where only defence matters were discussed and the three Services Chiefs were required to attend. This was not so for CCPA meetings. Also the secretarial support to the DCC meetings was provided by Military Wing under the Cabinet Secretariat. Later on, in a process started in 1976 and completed in 1991, the Military Wing was transferred to MOD thus breaking the link of COSC (Chief of Staff Committee) with defence decision-making at the highest level. Military Wing provides secretarial support also to COSC meetings and other inter-Services Committees functioning under the COSC. With the transfer of Military Wing under MOD, the Department of Defence headed by the Defence Secretary started considering all COSC matters under its purview. In fact, Defence Secretary was perhaps, raised to the level of a de facto CDS, even though he was junior in protocol to the three Service Chiefs. Though DMC has been reactivated since 1998 (as mentioned earlier), the secretarial support is not provided by the Military Wing but by the Joint Secretary (Policy and co-ordination) of Department of Defence. This has further resulted in diluting the Services' influence, if any, on the agenda for DMC meetings. The Annual Reports of MOD, for instance Report of the year 1998-99, states that besides Department of Defence (DOD) there are three other departments, namely, the Department of Defence Production and Supplies, the Department of Defence Research and Development and the Finance Division of the MOD. Appendix 1 of the Report lists out the subjects under the purview of Department of Defence.4 A scrutiny of the list would reveal that the Defence Secretary, ipso facto, is responsible for anything and everything to do with defence matters and Armed Forces of the Union.

Another post-1962 event in the progression of putting military in its place was the appointment of Cabinet Secretary with higher status than that of the Chiefs. Earlier attempts of getting higher status for Defence Secretary compared to the Services Chiefs had not met with success. This way Services Chiefs could not object to attending meetings of the Committee of Secretaries. This was a civil servant's version of 'Civil control' over the military. (For a short time there was an appointment of Principal Secretary in the MOD, equivalent to Cabinet Secretary thus senior to the Services Chiefs). One should not be surprised if the proposal of appointment of CDS/JCS is sought to be diluted by the civil bureaucrats by a counter proposal for appointment of a Principal Secretary in MOD with a wide ranging access to levers of control.

In the late sixties, two committees on Defence, presided over by Nawab Ali Yawar Jang and Shri S.N. Mishra had reviewed the higher defence organisation and made recommendations for an integrated MOD with the Service HQ. Ali Yawar Jang with a keen insight observed, "The subordination of the military to the civil power should be interpreted in the political and not in the bureaucratic sense-there is the factor to consider seriously of duplication of work which constitutes a waste, both financial and in terms of talent and time. Such duplication occurs mostly in the name of co-ordination and supervision, it contributes to little except delay". He also supported the concept of CDS. Mr. S.N. Mishra opined that "the principle of civilian control over the Defence machinery should be interpreted to mean no bureaucratic or civil service control but essentially ultimate political control by the Parliament and the cabinet". But, such recommendations did not cut much ice either with the bureaucrats or the politicians and these Reports were hardly heard of after their submission to the government.

There have been many other events on our tortuous and meandering path of progress leading to our awakening on national security and defence issues. In November 1998, a National Security Council was established which has a Strategic Policy Group and a National Security Advisory Board consisting of eminent experts from various fields. Among other things, it was expected to carry out a 'Strategic Defence Review' (SDR). If SDR were to be something like the SDR (1998) of the United Kingdom, then it would have dealt with various aspects of the issues outlined above and many more defence issues. The nuclear explosions in May 1998 had again brought to fore the need for evolving command and control structures for strategic forces and thus an urgent requirement to restructure our higher defence organisations. Kargil Review Committee (KRC), formed in the aftermath of Kargil war of 1999 has observed, "the political, bureaucratic, military and intelligence establishments appear to have developed a vested interest in the status quo. National security management recedes into the background in time of peace and is considered too delicate to be tampered with in time of war and proxy war-the continuing proxy war and the prevailing nuclearised security environment justify a thorough review of the national system in its entirety.5 And based on KRC's recommendations the Task Force on Management of Defence headed by Mr. Arun Singh was formed.

It may be pertinent to study the American and the UK experience in unification of Armed Forces and management of defence. The experience gained by them and the path adopted by them may hold some lessons for us, though, we may have to be careful in implementing methods and policies adopted to suit our requirements and objectives. In post-World War II era, there has been a general trend all over the world in integration of the armed forces and integration of Services HQ with the Defence Ministry/Defence Department. For the unification of US Armed Forces, Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986 was enacted with the following main objectives.6

l To reorganise the Department of Defence (DOD) and strengthen civilian authority within the Department.

l To improve the military advice provided to the President, the NSC and the Secretary of Defence.

l To place clear responsibility on the commanders of the unified and specified combatant commands for the accomplishments of missions assigned to those commands.

l To increase attention to the formulation of strategy and contingency planning.

l To provide for more efficient use of defence resources.

l To improve joint officer management policies; and

l To enhance otherwise the effectiveness of military operations and improve the management and administration of DOD.

Leaving aside one or two objectives, all other objectives are sought to be achieved by restructuring of higher defence management in our context. The first objective is to strengthen 'Civil authority', which directly impacts the authority and control exercised by the Secretary of Defence (equivalent to Defence Minister in our case). The Americans are quite clear that civil control does not mean exercising of control and authority by the civil servants. The Secretary of Defence exercises control by issuing a 'Defence Policy Guidance' (DPG) document (classified). DPG includes national security objectives and policies, the priorities of military missions and the resources levels projected to be available for the period of time for which such recommendations and proposals are to be effective.7 DPG document is made with the advice of Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). DPG is instrumental in initiating the DOD Planning Programming and Budgeting system (PPBS). A review of this system has revealed that this procedure has been functioning well as envisaged in the GNA.

In our case national security objectives and strategies have not been articulated unambiguously. Though, from the year 1996-97 onwards MOD Annual Report contains a chapter on National Security Environment8 yet it is far too general to outline our national security objectives. And inspite of our five-year defence plans, the funds committed to defence budget are on annual basis. There is hardly any semblance of PPBS. Our programme, planning and budgeting is at best disjointed and without the benefit of any centralised guidance.

Another tool used by the Secretary is Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG)9 which informs the CJCS of general and strategic areas of concern to civilian leadership for which contingency planning should be conducted. It is prepared in consultation with CJCS, goes through the NSC and is approved by the President. In our case, one can only wonder whether any such system exists, or is planned for. This is inspite of our ad hoc reactions and planning for operations in Maldives and Sri Lanka. Thus DPG and CPG are evolved in a manner so that 'the policies of civilian leadership are given primacy' and a broad civil control is maintained throughout the planning process. The details are left to the military leadership for the development of plans.

The second important objective of GNA (and restructuring of higher defence organisation in our case), is to improve the quality of military advice' or give a single point military advice to the civilian leadership (Prime Minister and Defence Minister in our case and the President and Secretary of Defence in the American case). This is precisely what is sought to be achieved through the appointment of CDS/JCS as recommended by Mr. Arun Singh and others. The pre-GNA dispensation in the US Armed Forces 'provided a barrier to the best military advice...led to log-rolling, back-scratching, marriage agreements, and the like..."10 In our case also COSC needs consensus in order to make any recommendations to the government. COSC lacks any executive authority. It is also difficult for the three Chiefs to advocate their 'Services' view-point and at the same time sacrifice that view for the common good of joint considerations'. What the MOD and the government needs is an integrated view and an effective and experienced spokesman for our senior military leadership. In the American case it is being provided by the CJCS with Service Chiefs subordinated to CJCS and also with the right of providing military advice to the government at the same time as CJCS, should they have any dissenting views.

There has been generally an apprehension among the civil servants and the polity that a CDS may become too strong or vesting him with powers of centralised advice would dilute civil control. Further, in the early years of India's fledging democracy, it was also premised that he (CDS) might subvert the democratic process, taking a leaf out of the military dictatorship in the neighbourhood. However, with strong democratic roots and proven apolitical credentials of the Indian Armed Forces such an eventuality is not likely to occur. The other argument which is advanced against a CDS or unified military advice is the desirability of multi-disciplinary inputs i.e. wider advice from all the Service Chiefs compared to the narrow or single-point advice from the CDS/CJCS. Further, it is also opined that his authority as a principal military advisor may enable him to prevail on most military issues among the Services. He may be able to stifle dissenting views and more the authority is vested in CDS/CJCS, the more it will enable to 'impose his views on civilian leadership'. The American experience does not testify to such a negative outcome. When individual Service Chiefs continue to exercise their right of presenting dissenting view, the CDS is compelled to integrate all the views proffered to present best military advice. The right of dissent and access to civil leadership by individual Service Chiefs provides adequate checks and balance in the system. And as a matter of policy, the CDS should be mandated to consult all the Services Chiefs before rendering joint military advice to the civil leadership. Further, the civil leadership, in essence, always has the right to reject or accept the proffered military advice. According to Americans, victory in the Gulf War proved the efficacy of the reforms brought about by GNA of 1986.

The GNA also compelled the American government to formulate and present a National Security Strategy annually. It is to be submitted at the same time the budget is submitted. In our case, as mentioned earlier, we are still waiting for our first officially approved National Security Strategy (NSS) from the multi-disciplinary body, the National Security Council. The National Military Strategy (NMS) has to be formulated as a consequence of NSS. The CDS will be responsible for formulation of NMS and he would assist the civilian leadership in the strategic direction of the armed forces and evolving joint capabilities to meet the objectives of NSS and NMS. The matter of whether NSS and NMS should be generalised or specific, classified or unclassified can only be gone into once some experience has been gained in this field.

How does CJCS provide for or in our case how will CDS provide for more efficient use of defence resources? The CJCS has various tools available to him for instance, the Integrated Priority lists, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, the authority to evaluate the preparedness of combat commands, the responsibility to develop joint doctrine for the armed forces, responsibility to appraise roles, missions and functions of Services and regular review of force structure. He is assisted by VCJCS and Vice Chiefs of the services in these areas. The CDS, in our case, needs to be given suitable powers for enabling him to give a joint and integrated advice and thereafter implement the directions given by the civil leadership. The American experience and system needs to be studied with great care and suitably modified to the Indian environment when we embark upon integrating MOD with Service HQ and integration of Service HQ itself.

Mr. V. Shankar, (Defence Secretary in 1967-68), while commenting upon the existing COSC system, observed, "in the absence of one single head at the top of Defence Force's organisations today, the ultimate burden of coordination, superior direction and working out of policies, of evolving weapon concepts suitable to the Defence Policy and Strategy and of settling inter-service rivalries or competing demands largely falls on the Defence Secretary and the Defence Minister...he (Defence Minister) does not have independent advice at the professional level. To expect that annually changing Chairman of the COSC would be able to fill the gap is, to my mind to ask for the impossible". There is no mechanism to rigorously examine whether acquisition of a regiment of tanks, or a flight of most modern jet aircraft's or a frigate or for that matter an Air Defence Ship would meet the requirements of our military strategy in pursuance of our national security objectives and defence policy. Though COSC has many subcommittees like Joint Planning Committee (JPC), Joint Training Committee and various other committees on communication, intelligence and administration, their record so far has not been encouraging, so far as promoting joint-Services agenda is concerned. In the COSC, the contentious inter-Service issues are avoided and thus differing perceptions on inter-Service matters are left to be adjudicated by the civil servants or the political leaders. With political leadership pressed for time and not able to pay undivided attention, it is the civil bureaucrat who reigns supreme.

As far as inter-Service joint planning is concerned, a Defence Planning Staff (DPS) with a Director General was formed sometime in 1986. DPS was to carry out threat analysis, evolve military aims, conceive and recommended balanced force levels, co-ordinate perspective planning for 15 to 20 years horizon and interact closely with research and development, defence production, industry and finance. It was also to look into the matters of joint training and joint logistics. It was only the then Service Chiefs and Mr. Arun Singh (the then Minister of State for Defence) who were dedicated to its evolution; others-especially the bureaucrats viewed it with suspiciion. There was also wrangling between the MOD and COSC over its control. However, over a period of time, its importance started declining due to inter-Service rivalry and misgivings. Every service has, now, its own perspective planning and financial planning as well. DPS's original role has become restricted to compiling of service plans and preparing routine papers. Integration, tri-service cooperation and concepts of joint planning can be best achieved through centralised guidance by CDS/JCS with DPS functioning under it as part of joint staff.11

One of the arguments, which is advanced against the concept of CDS, and in favour of continuance of status quo is the question of apportionment of budget between the three Services. It is professed that wherever the concept of CJCS/CDS has been introduced the budgets of Army, Navy and Air Force are almost equal (for instance in the USA and the UK).12 Thus, there is absence of pronounced inter-Service rivalry for a share of the budgetary cake.

This aspect needs a closer scrutiny in the Indian context. Jaswant Singh in his book Defending India has examined the apportionment of the budget critically. Though, the total outlays in defence are roughly apportioned between Navy, Air Force and Army in the ratio of 1:2:4 (13 years average from 1984-98) yet when it comes to the expenditure on the all important warfighting capability category, the ratio falls to 1:2.6:2.7,13 The Air Force and the Army getting almost equal share in this category. Further, when it comes to purchase of major weapon systems the apportionment of resources almost evens out with ratios of 1.1:1.2:1.7, with smallest Service (manpower-wise) getting the least.14 Thus, leaving aside the budget for stores and maintenance, the budgetary cake available to the Services may be presumed to be almost equal especially for the Army and Air Force. Therefore, this argument of unequal apportionment of budget in our case may not be sustainable against the concept of CDS.

The budgetary ratios among the Services have almost been following a fixed pattern. According to Jaswant Singh, "this rigid pattern of military spending resulted in lopsided expenditures and in the building up of certain specific capabilities at the expense of other equally, if not more important missions." Therefore, how can we achieve a balanced and joint force development and how can the military missions be prioritised? The military and defence establishments the world over, aver that a balanced joint-force development is their professed purpose especially in view of the nature of modern warfare. In the Indian context, little, if any, balance has been achieved in the 'mission capabilities across the Service lines and in the national force structure as a whole.15 In other countries, this objective has been sought to be achieved through unification of armed forces, through integration of defence establishments and through introduction of concepts of CDS/JCS. CDS/JCS is an important cog for development of joint force capabilities, rendering advice on inter-Service priority of military missions.

In the UK dispensation, an integrated MOD Headquarters came into being in 1964 through the amalgamation of the then smaller ministry of defence, the Admiralty, the War Office and the Air Ministry. The Secretary of State for Defence has two principal advisers: one military-the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and one civilian, the Permanent Secretary (a civil servant). The CDS is the professional head of the UK Armed Forces and the principal advisor to the Secretary of State (equivalent to our Defence Minister) and the government. The Cabinet provides overall control of the planning and conduct of military affairs, with the chain of command flowing down through the Secretary of State for Defence and the CDS. MOD has integrated service and civilian staff. This Joint Central Staff is responsible for three fundamental aspects of Defence policy and planning. What are the Government's security and defence aims and how do they impact upon the missions and tasks of the armed forces? What sort of military capability and equipment will best achieve these aims? What resources are necessary to carry out the government's policy and how can they be best allocated?16 The integrated staff is suitably organised under the Permanent Secretary (equivalent to Defence Secretary in our case) and CDS to perform their assigned functions efficiently. The Central Staff in the UK MOD is organised to look after certain key functions. First the Defence Policy in a broad sense and with military operations under Permanent Joint Headquarters. Second, the finance function, which involves MOD's corporate planning. Third, the Service Personnel area which co-ordinates policy on service personnel and reserve forces issues and so on. Fourth, the administration and civilian personnel area along with a range of support functions. Fifth, the identification of the future capabilities needed by the armed forces and formulating equipment programme to provide those capabilities. The scientific staff provides the scientific advice and manages the Department's corporate Research Programme. Some of the concepts followed by the defence establishment in the UK (from where we derive most of our structures and administrative procedures) are eminently suitable for application in our context.

There are hardly any dissenting views among the Indian strategic community on integrating the MOD. Air Commodore Jasjit Singh has argued that 'integration could cut down manpower at defence headquarters by 50 per cent or more, and bring about profound improvements in defence planning and decision making'.17 He is of the view that integration of MOD should commence first and the establishment of CDS could come later on. Integration of MOD could be based either on USA, UK or admixture of various models. On the weaknesses of the present system, he observes, "the co-ordination among the Services and between the three and the Government (read Ministry) have tended to contain many points of tension and contradiction. Since they are not part of the governmental framework, they only possess the power to make recommendation. This would not have caused any disjunction if the Ministry itself had experienced military officers on its staff besides civilian officers who make a profession in defence, as indeed is the case in other democracies."18 He further stresses the need for the new organisation to be based on sound principles of defence management and it should be evolved in a phased manner over a number of years.

The concept of CDS however does not evoke an unequivocal and positive response from the three Services. The apprehension from smaller Services being that their interests may be disregarded and perhaps the status of single Services Chiefs lowered. Though, these apprehensions need to be allayed by a providing careful balance on vesting centralised responsibility and power to CDS, the absence of CDS on the other hand leaves the field open to the civil servant to become the 'decider' instead of a uniformed person for inter-Service issues. Though the analogy may not be very apt, but this is something akin to that of Pakistan's willingness to accept the hegemony of China or America, but not that of India. Similarly, a smaller Service may be willing to accept the 'hegemony' of civil servants but not that of bigger sister Service. In any case, CDS can be from any Service and being in last tenure would not only be required to be more judicious but his professional reputation would be at stake and thus a CDS from any Service would contribute more to joint vision and integrated advice rather than the agenda of his own service. A civil servant neither has and nor is expected to have any military vision leave aside a joint military vision. The experience in the USA and the UK has been very positive in respect of the above issues.

The role and missions of CDS for Indian Armed Forces in summation, therefore would be as given below:-

l Principal military advisor to the Government after having consulted the three Service Chiefs.

l Develop policy advice for the Government and after receiving defence policy guidance from the Government (based on clearly enunciated National Security strategy), evolve a joint National Military Strategy. Formulate a joint vision for the Armed Forces and give a broad joint policy and planning direction to the three Service Headquarters.

l Establish inter-Service priorities of missions and evolve development plans joint force capabilities to meet the ends of NMS and military missions. This could be resorted to by co-ordinating the single Service Five-year Plans and approving long-term perspective plans. Needless to say that single Service plans would flow out from a joint perspective. He will also be responsible for evolving a joint doctrine for the Indian Armed Forces.

l Responsible for issuing instruction for joint operations and when new joint organisations are formed for prosecution of specific joint operations, to specify command and control of such organisation.

l Exercise command and control of strategic forces through the Command HQ (whenever it is set up). Such command and control responsibility should extend to any joint command whenever it is set up for some specific purpose.

l Responsible for exercising command of various newly proposed inter-Services agencies like Defence Intelligence Agency, Defence Logistic Agency, organisation for developing inter-Services Network and C4I2 systems and so on. (The formation of these agencies and their charter has been discussed in the earlier papers). He will be responsible for inter-Service organisations including joint training establishments.

All the above roles and missions would require joint staff to assist the CDS/CJCS; various models for integrated joint staff are available to choose from. It is not the intention of this paper to go into details of such an organisation. But the broad principles that the staff would be a suitable mix of civil and military officials with suitability and experience as the main criteria.

The Defence Secretary would be expected to deal in four areas viz. Policy and Budget, Personnel and Infrastructure, Civilian Management and Administration and Defence Procurement. Defence Secretary will continue to be responsible for co-ordinating functions of Department of Defence, Department of Defence Production and DRDO. He would also coordinate the activities of these departments with CDS for evolution and implementation of long-term perspective plans, five-year defence plans and as also the co-ordination of annual budget of three Services (in consultation with CDS). He would be responsible for defence estates, works, scales of supplies and accommodation and so on. He would be the interface between all departments of MOD and the Parliament. Though, the details of reorganisation of integrated MOD have not been gone into, the organisation structure in the MOD has to be developed keeping in view the requirements for a joint, responsive and accountable defence decision-making apparatus. The CDS, Defence Secretary, Secretary of Defence Production, the three single Service Chiefs and the Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister have both separate and joint responsibilities with the ultimate aim of evolving a joint and common defence perspective and working towards achieving the same.

The flaws in existing higher defence management organisation are well known. It is only that woefully inadequate attention has been paid to remedy the weaknesses in the system. The attempts made in the past either to integrate the service HQ with MOD or to integrate the three Service HQ have met with little success. There has been general absence of institutional processes for formulation of our national security objectives and strategies. The same holds true for formulation of joint military strategy. There is very little or no input from the civil leadership in the sphere of policy guidance for defence. As mentioned elsewhere in this paper, the political and military establishments which do not understand the complexities of post-modern warfare and fail to evolve suitable structures to meet the needs of well-managed defence organisation are unlikely to be on the winning side.

Mr. Arun Singh's Task Force on Management of Defence (TFMD) has proposed, in its report, restructuring MOD along with integration of Service HQ with it. The TFMD has also recommended creation of CDS in an attempt to integrate individual Service HQ with MOD. It is believed that the TFMD has suggested several options to the Group of Ministers, but CDS, apparently, is the most preferred option.19 It has also suggested greater delegation of administrative powers to the Service HQ in order to cut down on debilitating delays in decision-making. The TFMD has recommended that each Service should have an administrative unit under it to manage its proposed increase in financial powers. The Service HQs already have financial powers under which they have control of the revenue budget. Some proposals have also been made regarding changes in DRDO by separation of laboratories involved in pure research on one side and linking with the rest on defence production side. As an example, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited functions under the Department of Defence Production, while the Aeronautical Development Agency comes under DRDO.20 In the new dispensation, they are proposed to be integrated to achieve synergies.

TFMD Report should not just become one more 'report' in the line of many reports already lying with the government on management of higher defence. The remedial measures are long overdue and Mr. Arun Singh's recommendations should be implemented as a first step towards government's professed objective to take a pro-active role in national security and defence affairs. There has already been considerable procrastination and debate on the issues aforementioned. Time has come to take some concrete steps and if we do not learn from our history then we will be blessed with many more debacles in defence.



1. Shri Jaswant Singh, Defending India, (Bangalore: Macmillan India, 1999), p. 109

2. Sh. Jaswant Singh, lbid., p. 109.

3. For instance see George Tanham, "Indian Strategic Culture" Washington Quarterly, vol. 15, no. 1, reproduced in Indian Defence Review, April 1992. Article was based on research done for RAND Corporation.

4. Ministry of Defence Government of India, Annual Report, 1998-99, p. 110.

5. Kargil Review Committee Report: Executive Summary, reproduced in the U.S.I, Journal, January-March 2000, p. 33.

6. This is largely based on ten essays authored in August 1996 by C. Lovelace, Jr. on, "Unification of the United States Armed Forces: Implementing the 1986, Department of Defence Reorganisation Act", available on the Internet. See part II of the Essays, p. 55.

7. Douglas Lovelace, Ibid., part III of the Essays, p. 56.

8. MOD Annual Reports, 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, pp. 1 to 8. For the year 1999-2000, the National Security environment is available on line on MOD's official website, <>

9. See Douglas Lovelace, n. 6, Part III of the Essays.

10. Douglas Lovelace, Part IV of the Essays, p. 69.

11. For instance, see Maj. Gen. Ashok Mehta "An Emasculated Defence Planning Staff", in Indian Defence Review, January-March 1996, pp. 36-37.

12. See Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, AVSM, VSM, "Management of India's Security and Higher Defence" Strategic Analysis, June 1998 and July 1998.

13. Shri. Jaswant Singh, n. 1, p. 225.

14. Shri. Jaswant Singh, n. 1, p. 226.

15. Shri. Jaswant Singh, n.1, p. 237.

16. See Ministry of Defence, UK, website, Internet address, <>

17. Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, "Higher Management of Defence: The Case for Reforms and their Direction", Frontline, February 24, 1999.

18. Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, Ibid.

19. Shishir Gupta, The Hindustan Times, October 1, 2000.

20. Ibid.