Set up apex intelligence agency to protect India against missile strikes: service chiefs
George Iype in New Delhi
The chiefs of the staff committee have recommended to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government the need to set up an apex Defence Intelligence Agency to protect the country against pre-emptive missile strikes from neighbouring countries like Pakistan.
Defence sources said the proposal along with the three service
chiefs' recent communication to Prime Minister Vajpayee to immediately establish a National Command Authority to handle a possible nuclear war is part of an elaborate security strategy being planned by the armed forces.
The urgency to form a DIA has stemmed from the recent missile
attacks on Afghanistan by the United States.
The Indian defence establishment is said to have remained oblivious when the US navy launched 25 Cruise missiles at Afghanistan due to the absence of a proper intelligence set-up.
Though the army now has a department of military
intelligence, lack of modern communication equipment to provide prior information about attacks and intercept missiles has made it an outdated agency.
''The security scenario in Asia has changed drastically after
India and Pakistan conducted the nuclear tests in May. But the Indian defence forces do not have any reliable and high-tech agency to receive external intelligence inputs during crisis times,'' an army official told Rediff On The NeT.
''We need the military means to intercept and destroy if, for instance, the US fires Cruise missiles at vital Indian
installations,'' the official pointed out, adding that the effort now is to convince the government to establish a world-class defence intelligence set-up.
Therefore, early this week, the army, navy and air
force chiefs met and discussed the need to set up the DIA in view of the
increased threat perception and possible strategic strikes against
Indian nuclear and other vital defence installations.
The service chiefs felt the country's forces lacked
''an actionable intelligence,'' and therefore India could be at the receiving end of any missile strikes from neighbouring countries like Pakistan.
Ironically, currently Pakistan does not have an external military intelligence set-up with the result that Islamabad failed to intercept the US missile strikes against Afghanistan.
The service chiefs proposed that India should beef up
its defence intelligence infrastructure by acquiring an anti-missile
system for the army, submarines for the navy and sophisticated air corridor interceptors for the air force.
Defence sources said the service chiefs have recommended the urgent need to set up the DIA a number of times to the government in the past. ''But like all recommendations from the chiefs of service staff, the DIA formation has been relegated to the dusty files of the defence ministry,'' an official at
the ministry said.
''But if the government decides to establish the DIA and form the National Command Authority, the Indian defence services will have one of the most foolproof security set-ups in the world,'' he said.
The defence chiefs have already recommended that the NCA should take vital decisions on the use of nuclear weapons in times of a war. While the NCA could
comprise the prime minister and the ministers of defence, finance, home and external affairs, the three chiefs of staff committee will act as military advisors.
According to the service chiefs, the NCA should be replicated at various levels in order for it to be adequately functional and effective to handle any nuclear contingency. The DIA could be the apex defence intelligence apparatus that will provide prior information on missile attacks against the country.
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