Kargil Review Committee Report 2, Indian Airforce
Kargil Review Committee Report(cont.)


IV CI Operations, Kargil and Integral Manpower Policy

In going on alert to deter any Pakistani escalation and then focusing on eliminating the intrusion at Kargil, the Army had to withdraw battalions deployed in J&K from their counter-insurgency role. This caused consternation in the State Government and some worry even to the para-military forces which were largely reliant on the Army in this regard. The heavy involvement of the Army in counter-insurgency operations cannot but affect its preparedness for its primary role, which is to defend the country against external aggression. This point has often been emphasized by Pakistani analysts. Such a situation has arisen because successive Governments have not developed a long-term strategy to deal with insurgency. The Army's prolonged deployment in a counter-insurgency role, adversely affects its training programme, leads to fatigue and the development of a mindset that detracts from its primary role. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs, State Governments and para-military forces tend to assume that the Army will always be there to combat insurgency. This was vividly demonstrated when the Committee was referred to the Union Home Ministry's "Action Plan" for fighting militancy and the proxy war in J&K prepared in May 1998. This defined the role of the Army as being to ensure "zero infiltration" across the LOC.

The para-military and Central Police Forces are not trained, raised and equipped to deal with transborder terrorism by well-trained mercenaries armed with sophisticated equipment who are continuously infiltrating across the border/LOC. Over the years, the quality of these forces has not been appropriately upgraded effectively to deal with the challenge of the times and this has led to the increased dependence on the Army to fight insurgency. The net result has been to reduce the role of the Indian Army to the level of a para-military force and the para-military forces, in turn, to the level of an ordinary police force.

Pakistan has ruthlessly employed terrorism in Punjab, J&K and the North East to involve the Indian Army in counter-insurgency operations and neutralize its conventional superiority. Having partially achieved this objective, it has also persuaded itself that nuclear blackmail against India has succeeded on three occasions. A coherent counter-strategy to deal with Pakistan's terrorist-nuclear blackmail and the conventional threat has to be thought through. Whether in J&K or Assam, there has sometimes been tension between both the Army and para-military/CPO/Police formations and between the civil and military authorities. This is an unhappy state of affairs and should not be allowed to linger.

In spite of continuing counter-insurgency operations over the past many years, there has been no integrated equipment policy in respect of the Army, para-military and Central police forces. The manpower integration proposed would also ensure compatibility of equipment and render it easier for the Army and the other forces to operate side by side effectively when required to do so.

V- The Technological Dimension

Despite the challenge of terrorism over the past many years, the Indian Army and other security forces have lagged behind in the quality of their surveillance and communication equipment although technologically superior equipment is readily available the world over.

Only after the Kargil intrusion was direction-finding equipment acquired in increasing numbers. Helicopters employed for air surveillance patrolling do not have sophisticated monitoring and sensing devices. The Kargil battle was fought with less than optimum communications capability. While self-reliance and indigenisation are sound principles, the availability of critical equipment in time of combat is the supreme consideration that must govern acquisition policy.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the chain of defence laboratories under its jurisdiction is responsible for indigenising and constantly upgrading the country's weapons and equipment inventory and related supplies. The dilemma has always been to determine the correct balance between "make or buy". There are obvious constraints such as of foreign exchange and the non-availability of state-of-the-art technology from advanced nations which are at best only prepared to share these with their military allies. As a non-aligned power, India has not had access to some of the Western technologies that have flowed to Pakistan. Dual-use technology-denial regimes have also operated against India. These considerations demand that the country develop a degree of self-reliance in defence-related technology and military hardware. Considerable progress had been made in this direction. The achievements in this field can neither be denied nor denigrated. Nevertheless, a number of instances were brought to the notice of the Committee in respect of which there have been significant cost and time overruns in the development and induction of indigenous weapons and equipment for three Armed Services.

VI Media Relations and Information

Defence Public Relations is routinely handled by the Ministry of Defence through regular Information Service cadres. This establishment is not equipped to handle media relations during war or even proxy war. The briefing function during the Kargil crisis was taken over by a triad of senior military and civil spokesmen. Army Headquarters set up an Information and Psychological Warfare Cell under an officer of the rank of Major General with direct access to the Army Chief. This enabled Army Headquarters both to monitor and disseminate information in a better calibrated manner than would have been the case otherwise.

Reporting on the campaign revealed a lack of public information about the command structure of the Armed Forces and how responsibilities are distributed within the national intelligence framework. While arrangements were made for official briefings at Delhi, there were inadequate arrangements at the Corps, Division and Brigade levels. Nor were there arrangements to brief officers and men at the ground level on daily developments nor to interface with the civil authorities. The result was generation of a lot of inaccurate information such as the reported capture of a number of Indian Army bunkers (whereas the enemy only occupied one permanent patrol post which had earlier been vacated on account of extreme weather conditions, the existence of three-storied enemy bunkers equipped with television sets, and the purchase by the intruders of cement from the Dras-Kargil market.

A comprehensive account of Kargil operations remains to be brought out. Pakistani political and military leaders have repeatedly highlighted their nuclear capability and their will to use it. Accounts have also appeared in Pakistan of how India was thrice deterred by its nuclear capability. India's reticence in setting the record straight about the earlier conflicts and the developments in the nuclear field appear to have influenced the Pakistani mindset and led to the adventurous miscalculation over Kargil.

War and proxy war do not leave the civil population untouched. Human rights violations, civilian casualties, destruction or commandeering of property, refugee movements and the disruption of infrastructure and livelihoods must be expected. This calls for the creation of a civil-military interface at various levels to deal with a whole range of problems on an emergency basis. Such liaison was lacking during the Kargil action and points to a deficiency that must be made good.

The outcome of the Kargil operation was both a military and diplomatic triumph for India. The Pakistani intruders were evicted with heavier casualties than those suffered by India. The sanctity of the LOC received international recognition and Pakistan was isolated in the comity of nations. While attending to such shortcomings as have been brought to light, the nation can be proud of the manner in which the Armed Forces and the people as a whole acquitted themselves.

VII Was Kargil Avoidable?

A Kargil type situation could perhaps have been avoided had the Indian Army followed a policy of Siachenisation to plug unheld gaps along the 168 kms. stretch from Kaobal Gali to Chorbat La. This would have entailed establishing a series of winter cut-off posts with communications and other logistic support and specifically equipped and trained troops to hold these positions and undertake winter patrolling despite risk of cold injuries and avalanche casualties which would have had to be accepted. Such a dispersal of forces to hold uninhabited territory of no strategic value would have dissipated considerable military strength and effort and would not have been at all cost-effective. If, however, it has to be done now, such a policy can only be regarded as no more than a temporary expedient.

The alternative should be a credible declaratory policy of swiftly punishing wanton and willful violations of the sanctity of the LOC. This should be supplemented by a comprehensive space and aerial based surveillance system.

Recommendations

The Findings bring out many grave deficiencies in India's security management system. The framework Lord Ismay formulated and Lord Mountbatten recommended was accepted by a national leadership unfamiliar with the intricacies of national security management. There has been very little change over the past 52 years despite the 1962 debacle, the 1965 stalemate and the 1971 victory, the growing nuclear threat, end of the Cold War, continuance of proxy war in Kashmir for over a decade and the revolution in military affairs. 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 Committee strongly feels that the Kargil experience, the continuing proxy war and the prevailing nuclearised security environment justify a thorough review of the national security system in its entirety.

Such a review cannot be undertaken by an over-burdened bureaucracy. An independent body of credible experts, whether a national commission or one or more task forces or otherwise as expedient, is required to conduct such studies which must be undertaken expeditiously. The specific issues that require to be looked into are set out below. National Security Council

The National Security Council (NSC), formally constituted in April 1999, is still evolving and its procedures will take time to mature. Whatever its merits, having a National Security Adviser who also happens to be Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, can only be an interim arrangement. The Committee believes that there must be a full-time National Security Adviser and it would suggest that a second line of personnel be inducted into the system as early as possible and groomed for higher responsibility.

Members of the National Security Council, the senior bureaucracy servicing it and the Service Chiefs need to be continually sensitized to assess intelligence pertaining to national, regional and international issues. This can be done through periodic intelligence briefings of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) with all supporting staff in attendance.

Intelligence

Kargil highlighted the gross inadequacies in the nation's surveillance capability, particularly through satellite imagery. The Committee notes with satisfaction that steps have been initiated to acquire this capability. Every effort must be made and adequate funds provided to ensure that a capability of world standards is developed indigenously and put in place in the shortest possible time.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also known as Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs), are extremely useful and effective in surveillance, especially if they have night vision and thermal imaging capabilities. UAVs have just been inducted and are operating in the plains under the charge of the Army. Similar efforts should be made for the acquisition of high altitude UAVs. Institutionalized arrangements should be made to ensure that the UAV imagery generated is disseminated to the concerned intelligence agencies as quickly as possible. UAVs could also prove effective in counter-insurgency operations. They may replace WASO patrols in the long run. However, in the interim, the possibility of using more stable WASO platforms than Cheetah helicopters and equipping them with thermal imaging sensors should be explored.

The most spectacular intelligence coup of the Kargil operations was the interception of a series of high level Islamabad-Beijing telephone conservations. This highlights the capabilities of communication intelligence which in India is fragmented among a number of agencies and is not adequately funded. The equipment needs to be modernized in keeping with the advances made by Pakistan in inducting advanced communication technologies. There has also been a gross shortage of direction-finding equipment which could contribute significantly to counter-insurgency operations.

The United States has grouped all its communication and electronic intelligence efforts within a single organization, the National Security Agency (NSA). The desirability of setting up a similar organization in India with adequate resources for this extremely important and non-intrusive method of gathering technological intelligence calls for examination. Adequate attention has not been paid to developing encryption and decryption skills.

In many advanced countries, technological intelligence collection is undertaken by an integrated Defence Intelligence Agency with adequate resources. In India, the defence intelligence effort is limited in relation to the role assigned to the external intelligence agency (R&AW) except for limited tactical and signal intelligence. The resources made available to the Defence Services for intelligence collection are not commensurate with the responsibility assigned to them. There are distinct advantages in having two lines of intelligence collection and reporting, with a rational division of functions, responsibilities and areas of specialization. The Committee is of the view that the issue of setting up an integrated defence intelligence agency needs examination.

Pakistan's action at Kargil was not rational. Its behaviour patterns require to be carefully studied in order to gain a better understanding of the psyche of its leadership. In other countries, intelligence agencies have developed large 'White Wings' of high quality analysts for in-house analysis. They also contract studies with university departments and think tanks with area specialization. This is sadly neglected in India. The development of such country/region specialization along with associated language skills is a time consuming process and should not be further delayed. A generalist administration culture would appear to permeate the intelligence field. It is necessary to establish think tanks, encourage country specialization in university departments and to organize regular exchange of personnel between them and the intelligence community.

Counter-Terrorist Operations

The Army must be young and fit at all times. Therefore, instead of the present practice of having 17 years of colour service (as has been the policy since 1976), it would be advisable to reduce the colour service to a period of seven to ten years and, thereafter, release these officers and men for service in the country's para-military formations. After an appropriate period of service here, older cadres might be further streamed into the regular police forces or absorbed in a National Service Corps (or a National Conservation Corps), as provided for under Article 51A(d) of the Constitution, to spearhead a range of land and water conservation and physical and social infrastructure development on the model of some eco-development battalions that have been raised with a fair measure of success. This would reduce the age profile of the Army and the para-military forces.

The Committee is aware of the complexities and sensitivities involved in any such security manpower reorganization. Nevertheless, national security dictates certain imperatives which the country may ignore only at its peril. The proposed reorganization would make a career in the Armed Forces attractive on the basis of the lifetime employment offered by the two or three-tiered formula.

Border Management

Border fencing in Punjab has produced positive results. Elsewhere, vested interests have come in the way of effective border management. The smuggling of narcotics, man-portable arms and explosives, illegal migration and the infiltration of trained mercenaries have all exacerbated border management. If the country is to acquire increased capabilities for area surveillance and electronic fencing, the present structure and procedures for border patrolling must be reviewed. The Committee is therefore of the view that the entire issue needs detailed study in order to ensure improved border management.

National Security Management and Apex Decision-Making

Structural reforms could bring about a much closer and more constructive interaction between the Civil Government and the Services. The Committee is of the view that the present obsolete system, bequeathed to India by Lord Ismay, merits re-examination. An effective and appropriate national security planning and decision-making structure for India in the nuclear age is overdue, taking account of the revolution in military affairs and threats of proxy war and terrorism and the imperative of modernizing the Armed Forces. An objective assessment of the last 52 years will show that the country is lucky to have scraped through various national security threats without too much damage, except in 1962. The country can no longer afford such ad hoc functioning. The Committee therefore recommends that the entire gamut of national security management and apex decision-making and the structure and interface between the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces Headquarters be comprehensively studied and reorganized.

India's Nuclear Policy

The Report clearly brings out that, beginning with Indira Gandhi, successive Prime Ministers displayed extreme sensitivity towards the nuclear issue and consistently supported an Indian nuclear weapons programme. They judged it necessary to envelop it in the utmost secrecy and consequently did not take their own party colleagues, the Armed Forces and senior civil servants into confidence. This has caused many in the country to believe that India's nuclear weaponisation programme is a departure from the traditional policy of merely keeping the nuclear option open indefinitely. The record must be set straight. The record clearly establishes that the Indian nuclear weapons programme had a much wider consensus than is generally believed. The Committee therefore recommends the publication of a White Paper on the Indian nuclear weapons programme. This will also bring out the stark facts of the evolution of Pakistan's nuclear capability with assistance from countries who tirelessly decry proliferation, and the threats posed to India through nuclear blackmail.

Media relations and information

Kargil was the first war which Indian correspondents covered by going to the front in significant numbers. It was also the country's first television war and one in which the Indian Army had to handle the media right on the battlefront. This has been a learning experience for the Government, the Armed Forces and the media. Neither the Northern Army Command nor HQ 15 Corps nor the lower field formations had media cells which could cater to the requirements of the press corps. This reveals an obvious lacuna which must be plugged. The Army has decided to revive and upgrade its war correspondents' course at the College of Combat, Mhow. The media should avail of this opportunity so that there is a cadre of trained war correspondents at any time. Simultaneously, media relations and the techniques and implications of information war and perception management must form a distinct and important module at all levels of military training. It must also be recognized that the media has to be serviced at many levels national, local and international. None is less important than the other.

While dealing with the information issue, the Committee would also like to draw attention to the fact that Indian security forces are deployed year round in very difficult and inhospitable terrain ranging from high mountains to dense forests and sandy deserts. The US Armed Forces usually operate radio and TV channels dedicated to entertaining and informing their Armed Forces when deployed overseas. The Government should seriously consider similar dedicated facilities for the Indian Armed Forces. If such facilities had been available at the time of Kargil, some of the misleading reports and rumours that gained currency could have been effectively countered.

This Report brings out the vast gap between the actual policies pursued by the Government and developments on the ground on the one hand and popular perceptions derived from public pronouncements on the other. In a democracy, it is incumbent on the Government to reduce any such gap. While the country's nuclear programme must remain confidential, there was a failure on the part of successive Prime Ministers to educate the people on the realities of nuclear security confronting the country. In the case of Defence policy and insurgency situations, sufficient public information is not available. There is no single, comprehensive official publication containing details of the Kashmir question, the UN resolutions and why they could not be implemented, as well as of more recent developments in Kashmir through the years of proxy war, terrorism and ethnic cleansing together with Pakistan's involvement in all of these. The Government must review its information policy and develop structures and processes to keep the public informed on vital national issues.

It would appear that one of the major factors influencing Pakistan's aggressive behaviour in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 has been its self-image of martial superiority and a deliberately cultivated perception of an ineffectual Indian Army and a weak and vacillating Indian Government. Though Pakistan was discomfited in all the four military adventures it undertook, it has attempted to portray each of them as a narrowly-missed victory. Even the 1971 defeat is blamed on the Soviet Union. Developments in Afghanistan and its final denouement have been portrayed as projecting Pakistani military prowess in defeating the Soviet super-power. India has not published authoritative histories of the 1965 and 1971 wars. It is necessary to publish authentic accounts of the 1965 and 1971 wars and to establish the facts. Communicating the scope, extent and history of India's nuclear weapons programme should be an essential part of the exercise of deterrence. The record needs to be set right, not through strident propaganda, but by a cold marshalling of the facts regarding contemporary events and past history.

Technology

The longstanding controversy between the Services and the DRDO on drawing the line between "make" or "buy" resulted in the formulation of a new Procurement Policy in 1995. This liberalized the procedures for the import of equipment as against its indigenous development. However, this policy needs periodic review in the light of changing circumstances. Experience would suggest that such a review is presently overdue. One problem the DRDO faces is that the Armed Forces borrow unique features from weapons and equipment on offer from advanced military suppliers around the world and marry these in their "General Staff Requirements" to make "impossible" demands. There is an element of truth in this assertion but none can be faulted for desiring the best. A true partnership must be established between the Services and the DRDO to ensure that the latter gets full backing and funding from the Services and the former, in turn, get the indented equipment they require without undue delay.

Declaratory Policy of LOC

More attention should be given to monitoring and analyzing developments and trends in "Azad J&K" and the Northern Areas which are in ferment and whose fate and future cannot be divorced from any consideration of the Kashmir Question. Likewise, the Kashmiri diaspora overseas must be kept better informed about the situation in J&K and what happened in Kargil.

Misperceptions and ambiguities about the Siachen/AGPL sector need to be dispelled and the facts of "cartographic aggression" here made known. There is no warrant for departing from the logic of extending the LOC from NJ 9842 and "thence north to the glaciers" as set out in the delineation of the Ceasefire Line under the Karachi Agreement of July 29, 1949 which was subsequently converted into the Line of Control by the Simla Agreement in1992. This broadly upholds the current Actual Ground Position Line. The fallacy of showing the LOC as running northeast to the Karakoram Pass must be exposed.

The country must not fall into the trap of Siachenisation of the Kargil heights and similar unheld unpopulated "gaps" in the High Himalaya along the entire length of the Northern border. The proper response would be a declaratory policy that deliberate infringement of the sanctity of the LOC and wanton cross-border terrorism in furtherance of proxy war will meet with prompt retaliation in a manner, time and place of India's choosing. Pakistan and the world must know that India's defence of the integrity of its own territory, including that within its own side of the LOC, is not and cannot be held to be escalatory and that the aggressor and his victim cannot be bracketed and placed on par.

Such a declaratory policy must be backed with credible measures in J&K to win back alienated sections of the population, attend to genuine discontents, political and economic, and enable the victims of ethnic cleansing to return to their homes in the Valley or elsewhere in the State with security and honour. To this end, the Union and State Governments must jointly initiate a twin policy of reform and devolution to and within J&K and a dialogue with Pakistan. India's commitment to maintaining the sanctity of the LOC/AGPL and the international endorsement of this position won during the Kargil crises has within it the seeds of a larger, long-term settlement that can bring enduring peace and tranquility to J&K and stable and cooperative Indo-Pakistan relations on the basis of the Simla-Lahore process within the framework of SAARC.

Epilogue

The Committee's review brings out many lessons that the Armed Forces, Intelligence agencies, Parliament, Government, media and the nation as a whole have to learn. These have been set out in the preceding findings. These should stimulate introspection and reflection, leading to purposeful action. The Committee trusts that its Recommendations will be widely discussed and acted upon expeditiously so that the sacrifices made will not have been in vain. The best tribute to the dedication of those killed and wounded will be to ensure that 'Kargils' of any description are never repeated.


Kargil Review Committee Report(Part 1)