Sunday, October 24, 2004

India: Lack of coordination dogs Intelligence services


Noting that the October 20, 1962, Chinese attack on India "happens to be our greatest failure in intelligence", Subrahmanyam stated: "Forty-two years later, I am not in a position to say that this country has drawn all the lessons from that failure." "Coordination is of utmost importance. Each agency is trying to protect its turf. We must establish coordination between different agencies," said former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra Wednesday, while inaugurating a seminar here on "Recent Intelligence Failures in the US, the UK and Russia: Lessons for India".

Indian intelligence agencies lack coordination: Experts

New Delhi, Oct 20 : India's plethora of intelligence agencies are so involved in turf wars that they totally lack coordination, a situation that is unlikely to change in the near future, security experts say.

"Coordination is of utmost importance. Each agency is trying to protect its turf. We must establish coordination between different agencies," said former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra Wednesday, while inaugurating a seminar here on "Recent Intelligence Failures in the US, the UK and Russia: Lessons for India".

The statement was a virtual admission that Mishra, in his six years in the job, when he was also principal secretary to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had been unable to get the intelligence agencies to function in a common loop.

"Therefore, we need to review our intelligence set up from time to time. It was done in 1999 (after the Kargil war with Pakistan). It is being done again now," Mishra said

K. Subrahmanyam, who has held a series of top-level appointments in India's security set up and headed a probe into the Kargil conflict, was even more scathing in his criticism.

Noting that the October 20, 1962, Chinese attack on India "happens to be our greatest failure in intelligence", Subrahmanyam stated: "Forty-two years later, I am not in a position to say that this country has drawn all the lessons from that failure."

Mishra gave a telling example of the lack of coordination when he referred to a report that had been presented to him by the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

"Have you shared this with RAW (Research and Analysis Wing)? I asked (the IB director). 'No sir, I haven't,' he replied.

"I knew the information available, if shared, would lead to good results for national security," Mishra added, admitted this did not happen.

Mishra also cautioned against tailoring intelligence to "suit pre-determined action" which according him had been done by US agencies to enable President George W. Bush justify his invasion of Iraq.

"This is the worst that a government can do to its intelligence set up and the worst the intelligence (community) can do to the government.

"The result of this is clear. Apart from the catastrophic war in Iraq, the impact on domestic politics (in the US) is going to be terrible. This intelligence has harmed the government and harmed the action it took," Mishra maintained.

Subrahmanyam lamented he did "not see any politician here" interested in security matters, as a result of which the intelligence agencies would continue their uncoordinated operations.

"Many senior officials, during the Kargil inquiry deplored the lack of social contacts among the senior-most service officers, civil servants, foreign service officers and intelligence officers where security issues could be discussed informally without fear of breach of security.

"Nor is there much intermingling between intelligence and service officers in this country, as there is in other countries, through cross-postings in defence headquarters and training courses at various levels," Subrahmanyam contended.

In this context, he pointed out that while the US had created a Department of Homeland Security in the wake of 9/11, no such set up existed in India, in spite of counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, and Maoist activity in eight states.

"There is not a single authority to coordinate intelligence and operations against terrorism. Recently, a special advisor to the prime minister on internal security has been appointed. It is not yet clear how he is going to operate," Subrahmanyam stated.

M.K. Narayanan, the newly appointed official, who is a former director of the Intelligence Bureau, was among those who attended the seminar.

Indo-Asian News Service 24/10/2004