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Need for Slim, Trim, Light And Agile Security Mechanism by Lt Gen DB Shekatker

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Author: Lt Gen (Dr) DB Shekatker PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd)
There is an age old philosophy of good governance and national security since Mahabharat, which was reaffirmed by famous Indian strategic philosopher Chanakya: “If you wish to prevent a war be prepared for it. But never be too eager for a war”. Thanks to the political, diplomatic, ideological leadership, India’s security and defence philosophy and strategy became over-focused towards Pakistan. In doing so unfortunately we totally ignored our bigger adversary and competitor China.


If we study Manusmruti the guiding Indian philosophy of governance and national security, we will find that there are “four categories of threats, challenges, impediments to national security”. Manusmruti is written in Sanskrit the mother of all languages and scripts. If translated in English these are:

  • External Threats Externally Abetted. Examples are Pakistan’s attack in Kashmir in 1947, China’s attack in 1962, Pakistan attack on India in 1965, Kargil War. Terrorist attack on Mumbai 26/11
  • External Threats Internally Abetted. Examples are insurgency in north-east India, terrorism in Punjab, Kashmir, insurgency in Assam, Terrorist attack on Parliament, 26/11 etc.
  • Internal Threats Externally Abetted. Insurgency in north-east supported by China and ISI, terrorism in India, bomb blasts at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, illegal migration in India etc.
  • Internal Threats Internally Abetted. Insurgency in Manipur, unrest in Meghalaya, Maoists, Naxalite threats, terrorism in India, bomb blast by Indian Mujahideen, increasing radicalism in India, USA. Radicalism in Pakistan where Muslims are killing Muslims, LTTE in Sri Lanka, communal violence in India etc.

Since our independence, India has been subjected to all four types of threats as explained above. Before independence the philosophy, role, organisation of security mechanism was to protect the interests of British Empire in India and abroad. India’s national strategic orientation (specially of Indian Army) was basically an overseas expeditionary force, with limited home defence (North West frontlines and Burma (now Myanmar). However post-1947 it changed to defence of homeland, defence of motherland from external aggression. Despite this change the Indian leadership failed to grasp the reality. Defence of homeland from whom? Who will be the aggressor? What will be the motivations for aggression on India? Why, where and how will India be attacked? How should India prepare to assure defence and security of India’s territorial integrity and India’s national interests? For some reasons we again failed to understand the philosophy advocated in Manusmruti and by Chanakya that “by failing to anticipate, failing to predict and failing to prepare, you (nations) are actually preparing to fail and get defeated on battlefield and in combat”. It is this failure to organise and prepare India’s security mechanism, intelligence mechanism and armed forces; encouraged both Pakistan and China to attack India and capture our territory not once but again and again. China continues to enlarge her hold on Indian territory in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh even today.

Trends Around The World

While discussing reorganisation, restructuring the security mechanism in India there is a need to examine the emerging trends in the world. Geographical distances, boundaries, have almost lost their relevance due to increasing connectivity, inter-dependence, inter-operability and greater transparency and so on. India cannot remain unaffected by the events developing across the world specially in our region of interest, region of influence and region of dominance. India will have to ensure our immediate neighbours are engaged constructively and meaningfully to ensure peace, stability and prosperity of our neighbours since we will all have a common future and destiny. Being considered as a regional power, India’s security mechanism will have to prepare to face the future shift in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

  • The centre of gravity of geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic scenario is gradually shifting to Asia-Pacific. This will need greater cooperation and coordination among nation states to ensure collective security, peace, stability and prosperity. We need to evolve new philosophy and strategy. Intelligence agencies, security and defence mechanism will have to share greater responsibility. We should never make a mistake of blindly copying NATO model and philosophy in Asia-Pacific Region. NATO has totally failed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East and North Africa in every aspect of international governance, peace and stability.
  • Geopolitical, geostrategic uncertaintities and unpredictability will not only persist but also likely to increase in future. This will demand constant and continuous “predictability and anticipatory threat analysis” by security and defence experts to ensure that we are not taken by surprise.
  • Shift from geopolitical to geoeconomic will dictate geostrategy and security.
  • Transformation of conflict is underway with unconventional, irregular, non-standard conflicts and terrorism gaining prominence and priority. Even the war terminology is being influenced due to the nature and urgency of conflict resolution; such as “war of necessity – and war of choice”. The so called strategic and security experts must realise that war is a war; either by choice or default, either due to the urgency and necessity of response or by choice. The characteristics of weapons, armaments, aircraft, gunships, the lethality of bombs or bullets does not change in different forms of conflict / war.
  • Efforts will be concentrated on introducing and enforcing international intervention in local conflict, which may either extend the conflict or give further impetus to unrest (like in Syria) forcing ruling regimes and armed forces to use force to ensure stability.
  • Despite nuclearisation of Indian subcontinent space and scope still exists for limited high intensity conventional war like Kargil War. Pakistan was fully aware of India’s nuclear capability and still took calculated risk to attack Kargil. Pakistan was convinced and confident that India’s threshold of tolerance will not encourage India to escalate war in other sectors to punish Pakistan for the misadventure.
  • Force structure, organisation and control of security mechanism will have to be clear to face threats and dangers arising from nuclear, chemical and biological protection. This technology and capability in the hands of non-state actors will create new challenges. There will be a likely shift from weapons of mass destruction towards disruption of masses. It will be difficult to pinpoint and hold nations accountable.
  • How to use combat force in war against terrorism in own country? India cannot and should not adopt US model to combat terrorism. Wars of necessity or wars of choice are not fought by USA on American soil within geographical boundaries of USA. The situation and ground reality in Indian context is entirely different.
  • Political initiatives and diplomacy is being supplemented and strengthened by politico-economic and politico-military diplomacy.
  • The future war in Indian context will most likely be limited in time, scope and space.
  • The armed conflicts will be based on full knowledge and detailed information about warring rivals.
  • The criteria and emphasis will shift from how many killed and how much is destroyed to how quickly killed and destroyed!!  This will need philosophy and mechanism for surgical strike and not the philosophy of “cold start”.

Reorganising And Restructuring

Sudden terrorist attack on America forced the government to “do something” to assure the combat capability of American forces and also to reassure the world about the credibility of America’s military might. Out of anger and frustration of the government of the time USA got involved in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan (the war of necessity) and later in Iraq in 2003 (the war of choice)!!


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