Keshav mazumdar
(Certified Master Antiterrorism Specialist & RIEAS Member of International Advisory Board)


Our country’s decision makers- should receive unbiased, non-parochial, all-source intelligence threat estimates based upon need to know basis. But that is lacking. Today we have the IB, Directorate General of Security, the RAW, Directorate General Of MI, Air Intelligence, Naval Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Technical Research Agency. Little coordination exists between them leading to poor information sharing, continuity loss, and inadequate threat analysis/estimate. Compartmentalization by the agencies further fortify these difficulties.

Policy makers tend to focus more on foreign armed forces with the result that the intelligence agencies efforts are directed more towards them rather than terrorist and organized crime linking to terrorism. Non-state threats thus merit lesser attention than conventional military systems.  India is way behind in proper scientific and technical tasking, collection, analysis, production and dissemination of intelligence products for decision makers.   Thus, on many occasions the real threat is not identified with the result security efforts are geared more towards adversaries and capabilities more or less likely to harm us than the other less visible and subtle actors operating in a domain not explored or given lip service by the intelligence agencies.

What is required, is accurate intelligence assessments about the threat developed by analysts individually or in small groups, rather than by a multitude of study groups and committees and then all come together for a healthy reciprocating discussion an atmosphere wherein analytical reports are compared, debated, judged unbiasedly a final all-consensus draft being prepared and then finally disseminated to the end-users. Healthy analyst competition is very necessary. This will rule out the possibility of wrongful assessments/analysis being made, particularly with regard to long range intelligence assessments.

Modern intelligence analysts face two age old classical problems not tenable to a solution. First how to predict the event with certainty and second how to make the policy maker accept that report/estimate/analysis which he doesn’t want to accept. The corollary to the latter can be attributed to numerous intelligence failures when the right information could not be disseminated properly.   The source may be perfectly credible but if the information is analyzed poorly and even if it is analyzed in the right perspective, failure of the end user/policy maker to heed it properly can lead to serious security lapses/criminal developments. Faulty analysis and dissemination of intelligence are the two areas responsible for either tactical or strategic surprise. Raw information processed and analyzed leads to intelligence useful if interpreted correctly. Similarly, dissemination of useful intelligence to the decision maker in a timely fashion with the decision maker receiving it positively unhindered by political affiliations/other variables leads to successful future operations and policy. 

In India the culture of intelligence analysis is badly lacking.  Intelligence gathering as a specialized skill has not yet been recognized in India. So state level branches of IB that gather information and intelligence are staffed with dissatisfied, unenthusiastic workers-often the leftover useless lot. Besides the bureau’s resources are also taken up by additional responsibilities like counter intelligence operations, security in the states and routine monitoring of state governments.

In the last decade or so, unlike the jehad (terrorists), our intelligence agencies haven’t improved much. The terrorists change tactics as the need arises, adapt themselves to changing scenarios, are proactive highly, have their own intelligence runs and counterintelligence apparatus, terrorists have a common command and control; the investigative agencies are stereotyped. No central database exists for coordination and monitoring of data. Focus is given more on post-terrorist incident investigations and high compartmentalization leads to very little sharing of information.

Analytical methods get lip service with more focus on post-incident investigation the latter being termed as ‘’our’’ way of analysis.  It should be born in mind that predictive intelligence depends a lot on analysis of past cases. If the police or the system did not have an intelligence warning it means that there is a failure: an intelligence failure.

 Then coupling it with analysis of present threats, drawing parallels, conducting assessments leading to a threat estimate the entire process being supported by counterintelligence activities which also feeds back positive intelligence all this results in intelligence of good quality. Proactive intelligence led policing is the need of the hour and that too is lacking here. The most critical element in this structure is the investigative branch of the local police forces such as the Criminal Investigation Department, the Special Branch or the Crime Branch. There is no uniformity in responsibilities or operational duties. Typically these units carry out the investigation and prosecution of terrorist, organized criminal gang members, arms traffickers, drug peddlers and the like placing them in the unique position of being able to detect the emergence of terror networks or coalitions. Provided they resort to intelligence and counterintelligence activities. Unfortunately they remain the weakest link in the intelligence chain as they function only as investigative law enforcement agencies and not as modern units capable of organizing preventive measures based on intelligence collection.  

The anti-terror strategy that India has formulated so far lacks a nationwide actionable counterintelligence mechanism, as most of the Indian states do not have a proper counterintelligence wing in their police departments to get prior information of a possible attack and prevent the possible incident.

The worse situation with regard to this is the fact that only in this year 2012 it has been decided to set up counterintelligence units in State police establishments to be operationalised from March 1st, 2012. It is just too late.

Add to this another problematic area which leads to the overall inefficacy of the intelligence architecture of the nation as a whole. We have, as pointed out earlier, a multitude of intelligence organizations, each tending separately to law enforcement, terrorism, insurgency and defense related intelligence requirements. This diversity leads to the differences in terminology, methodology, and emphasis that characterize intelligence support for these applications. Intelligence is not only a process, it is also an organization. And precisely this factor coupled with high proliferation of Institutions/agencies makes synthesis of accurate and timely estimates from multiple source intelligence data into accurate threat assessments virtually difficult if not impossible.

What we need is an analytical cell calling on an all-source intelligence analysis and  I&W cell to advise the top management/policy maker. “PREVENT-PREPARE-RESPOND”, these three should be integrated in the anti terror mechanism as a whole and to achieve it indications and warning elements should always be the focus of intelligence activities and should feed into the operational decision making system of the policy makers in a coherent fashion. This warning cell coupled with an efficient information analysis cell will go a long way in combating terrorism proactively, in the preventive mode.

The I&W cell should be free from all encumbrances like too much bureaucratic control or political interference which results in the analyst being forced to model his report from the perspective of the ‘’desired’’ interpretation of the policy maker/decision maker—an attribute called the ‘’intelligence trap’’ wherein the decision maker tends to view the problem from his past experiences, his mind being a patterning system, set patterns conforming to stereotyped solutions of problems. It becomes difficult for him to break out of it and accept the new interpretation. If the I&W cell is in close proximity to the decision maker by way of location then the analysts will be in a better position to explain and interact and get support. If there are less beauracratic levels in between more the better.

Moreover it should be realized the lesser the distance between the analyst cell and I&W cell and the decision maker the more timely dissemination of ‘’hot’’ intelligence will result. Finally the policy maker should comprehend the fact that an intelligence estimate or assessment is not a certain fact but a probability a guess not a hard solution to a defined problem as encountered in everyday politics or administrative problems.




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