Importance of written National Security Strategy (NSS)

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Source: The post Importance of written National Security Strategy (NSS) has been created, based on the article “Why India needs a national security doctrine – now” published in “Indian express” on 21st June 2024

UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 3 – Internal Security

Context: The article discusses the Chief of Defence Staff’s comment on India’s National Security Strategy (NSS). He noted that while policy, processes, and practices exist, a written policy is missing. This raises questions about the prolonged drafting process and the need for an official NSS to ensure clarity, accountability, and effective defense planning.

For detailed information on National Security Strategy of India read this article here

Why Is There a Debate on the NSS?

  1. Missing Written Policy: The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) mentioned that India lacks a written NSS, questioning the necessity of having one.
  2. Prolonged Drafting Process: For the past two decades, multiple drafts of the NSS have been circulated without finalization.
  3. Unclear Progress: The Defence Planning Committee, set up in 2018, was tasked with formulating the NSS, but its progress remains unknown.
  4. Current Directive Inadequate: India relies on the RM’s Operational Directive, which is seen as insufficient.

How Do Other Countries Handle Their NSS?

China: China publishes periodic white papers on its National Security Strategy (NSS), despite being generally opaque in its policies.

Pakistan: Pakistan has released its first National Security Policy for 2022-26.

Israel: Israel does not have a written NSS document but manages its security strategy effectively.

India’s Context: Unlike these countries, India currently relies on the RM’s Operational Directive, which is seen as cryptic and inadequate. The lack of a written NSS in India raises concerns about operational clarity, decision-making, and the need for a coherent national security framework.

Why is a Written NSS Important?

  1. Clear Strategy: A written NSS would foster a “whole of nation” approach, ensuring synergy in harnessing comprehensive national power (CNP).
  2. Milestone Setting: It helps set clear milestones for capability-building, modernization, infrastructure development, and the Atma Nirbhar mission.
  3. Accountability: The present system of reviews by the Parliamentary Standing Committee and Auditor General is sub-optimal. A written NSS would allow for better reviews and audits using net-assessment and statistical tools.
  4. Operational Clarity: The NSS would provide clear-cut ends, ways, and means, fostering initiative, innovation, and improvisation at the operational level.
  5. Leadership and Command: A clearly spelled-out NSS would foster initiative, innovation, and improvisation at the cutting-edge level, essential for the operationalization of theatre commands and transformation.

What should be done?

  1. Adopt a Written Policy: India should have a written NSS to foster a whole-nation approach and ensure strategic clarity.
  2. Improve Defense Planning: Stabilize the new Integrated Capability Plan and Defence Capability Acquisition Plan to provide clear milestones for modernization and infrastructure development, as the current transition state is concerning.
  3. Enhance Decision Making: Implement the NSS to reduce over-centralization and foster a decentralized Directive Style of Command, encouraging initiative and innovation at the operational level.

Question for practice:

Discuss the importance of India adopting a written National Security Strategy (NSS) in fostering strategic clarity, enhancing accountability, and improving defense planning

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