Network Centricity : An answer to security threats

By Our Special Correspondent

As India aspires to attain a 'developed' nation status in the near future, the momentum of India's growth depends on how nation's internal security is maintained and preserved. To this effect the Indian Government has been undertaking continuous efforts to enhance its preparedness to counter various security threats, said M M Pallam Raju, Minister of State for Defence, Government of India. He was speaking at a Seminar on Network Centricity and National Security organised jointly by Directorate General of Information Systems, The United Service Institution of India (USI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

He further stated that the intelligence agencies operating at national and state level should be strengthened with coordination mechanism, intelligence analysis and dissemination of inputs in real time to the end user. Adding a private sector's dimension to the theme, he stated that there are significant opportunities for the private industry to partner in the homeland security and sub-conventional warfare space. The allocation for India's homeland security agencies was increased by 25 percent in the budget 2009-2010. Paramilitary forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs include about 1 million personnel and have a budget of Rs 21,634.15 crore (USD 4.3 billion). The equipment and training must be upgraded and modernise in order to have an effective counter-insurgency internal security force.

General Deepak Kapoor, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of Army Staff stated, advancement in technology has increased threats to national security. Advanced technology is harnessed in terrorist attacks, asymmetric warfare, 4th Generation warfare etc. Therefore timely actions like starting unique IT projects, information grids etc as a backbone to synergise and facilitate information flow are imperative. National security transcends all barriers, and it is as much a responsibility of a citizen as the defence services, General Kapoor added. He stressed on achieving synergy with multiple agencies, drafting nationwide architecture of a Geographical information system.

Major General Sandhu, Deputy Director, USI, stated that challenges to national security are unique and ever emerging in newer forms. He suggested formulation of National Security Doctrine powered by network centricity, collating security inputs and coordination. He added the need for developing instruments capable of meeting wide spectrum of threats, by creating concepts and putting them into practice.

Lt. Gen PC Katoch, UYSM, AVSM, SC, Director General of Information Systems, Integrated Headquarters of MoD (Army) said that IT has helped in shortening the response time, resource allocation, superior management, enabled effective concepts of speed, command and control. It has enabled synergised response to security threats at national level.

Arvind Thakur, Chairman CII Core Group on Information Systems & Chief Executive officer, NIIT Ltd said that keeping in perspective the issues of national security, CII formulated a National Task Force on Policy Advocacy post 26/11 attacks. The task force aims at strengthening a nationwide security architecture with a focus on policy advocacy, spreading awareness of technology among the security forces and sensitise the industry to maintain an adequate security environment within their premises.

The seminar was co-organised by DGIS Indian Army, USI and CII and was an endeavour to synergise the agencies involved in making 'India Secure' with a top down arch in a network centric environment towards evolving a viable blue print in this direction. The theme of the seminar owes its genesis to the deteriorating situation in our neighbourhood, increasing asymmetric threats and national security challenges that have blurred the dividing lines between sub-conventional and conventional wars coupled with cyber threats and possibility of use of dirty bombs and gas / chemical attacks by terrorists. In such a scenario, the classical concept of use of military "only as a last resort" within Indian borders may not hold good especially if widely dispersed threats emerge of a magnitude that may require simultaneous use of the military concurrent with police and para military forces.

Gurpal Singh, Deputy Director General, CII, explained that such national security challenges necessitate a coordinated proactive response in requisite timeframe to prevent the intended terror strike(s) or minimize damage and casualties. This implies that Situational Awareness, COP (Common Operating Picture), Intelligence Gathering and Intelligence Fusion (incl Automated Multi-Sensor Data Fusion) and an Automated Decision Sp Sys are not relevant to the military alone but are urgently required at the national level, "duly linked to the military". This would require coordinated use of current and emerging technologies. A situation warranting a national coordinated response may also emerge because of a natural calamity, notwithstanding the magnifying LWE threat which if not checked may require military deployment in years to come.

Such combined challenges necessitate the existence of national doctrine on network centricity and national security. This is an inescapable requirement, from which would flow the blueprint of a proactive strategy backed by a synergized national effort to ward-off threats to national security. An Apex Intelligence Coordination Agency, with the required authority, it should take a holistic view of all bits of intelligence coming from varied sources, evaluate their accuracy, synthesise them to obtain a cohesive picture, analyse the whole dispassionately to arrive at an assessment and disseminate the end product to concerned agencies for action including the armed forces. This agency should maintain requisite data banks and be responsible for long-term intelligence assessments on all aspects of national security.

A National Information Grid for information flow and dissemination in a viable timeframe for the most suitable and apt response in real time / near real time with respect to the emerging situation, is also an immediate requirement. A national identification policy for every citizen; the one ID that should hold good for all requirements and a central agency responsible to exploit the best technology to achieve Network Centricity for National Security should be developed.

The involvement of Indian Industry in playing a pivotal role in ensuring the national security of the country assumes significance as they have the expertise, the technology, the solutions and the capability to develop the required solutions to meet the nation's security concerns. The Seminar was attended by officers from across the armed forces, Paramilitary forces, state police, DRDO, academia, Industry and Guest speakers from foreign nations. Subjects like assessment of external and internal security situation, challenges for an integrated intelligence architecture and networks for information collection and dissemination, were deliberated upon.