AK Antony’s intellectual dishonesty! - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 9 December 2013

AK Antony’s intellectual dishonesty!

You'll have to try harder, Admiral. He just doesn't get it!

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 10th Dec 13

India’s longest serving defence minister, AK Antony, will leave a spotty record when he demits office next year, a departure that seems imminent after Sunday’s election results. His regrettable penchant for avoiding difficult decisions is offset by his admirable integrity, which he has tried to enforce in the ministry of defence (MoD). But now Mr Antony will irretrievably sully his legacy by scuttling an operationally crucial appointment that the army, navy, air force and strategic analysts almost without exception agree upon --- a permanent chairman for the chiefs of staff committee (COSC).

In October, the Naresh Chandra Task Force on national security recommended to the prime minister that this four-star post be created immediately to handle the jurisdiction where two or more service interests overlap. The three service chiefs, who were in full agreement, sent an appointment proposal to the National Security Council. The NSC Secretariat has referred this decision to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which will rule on the matter shortly.

But Mr Antony has put a spoke in the wheel. On Dec 6, he let defence journalists know that he would oppose the proposal in the CCS. The reason, he explained, was that such an important appointment needed “political consensus”, which would take time to obtain. Without Mr Antony’s concurrence, the proposal will be dead on arrival at the CCS.

Why does the COSC need a permanent chairman? Firstly, as the military chiefs agree, the three services must coordinate closely to generate decisive power on the modern day battlefield. An army unit, fighting on an isolated mountaintop, would often rely on air force fire support when their own artillery is beyond range. A naval fleet might require air support from air force fighters flying from shore-based bases. An amphibious landing requires tight operational planning between all three services. A permanent Chairman COSC would enable such cooperation.

Secondly, tri-service autonomy causes wasteful expenditure with capabilities, organisations and equipment being duplicated and even triplicated. Rather than running redundant facilities, all three services could combine functions like strategic communications, medical services, military policing, legal services and logistics. A permanent Chairman COSC would integrate these functions, saving money for modernisation and human resource development.

Thirdly, the government should not have to discuss military issues with three service chiefs, often getting contradictory advice. A tri-service chief would be a single point-of-contact that offers integrated military solutions after taking all service viewpoints into consideration. This is even more imperative for an emerging power whose nuclear doctrine is based on a triad of land, sea and air-based delivery systems.

For these reasons, the Kargil Review Committee recommended in 1999 the creation of a Chief of Defence Staff. The CDS was envisaged as a five-star general, admiral or air marshal, directly overseeing the four-star service chiefs of the army, navy and air force. In Feb 2001, a Group of Ministers, headed by Mr LK Advani and including then defence minister George Fernandes, endorsed this proposal. But the prospect of a powerful new military chief apparently set off alarm bells. The National Democratic Alliance accepted all the GoM’s recommendations except the appointment of a CDS. On that, the NDA ruled “that the recommendation in respect of the institution of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) be considered later, after Government is able to consult various political parties.”

Instead of the CDS, the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) was set up in 2001 in a token nod to jointmanship, an organisation with numerous responsibilities and few powers. Several three-star officers run the IDS, providing the army, navy and air force chiefs with handy professional cul-de-sacs into which they can shunt inconvenient generals. Yet the IDS can be strengthened and transformed into an effective tri-service headquarters under a five-star CDS, or a four-star permanent chairman COSC.

But now that seems unlikely. The NDA’s failure to act was followed by a United Progressive Alliance that uses the same threadbare excuses. On Jun 13, 2005, then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee declared that the CDS “would require a broad political consensus among parties, both in office and in opposition.” Eight years on, incredibly, Mr Antony has deployed this excuse to block even a four-star permanent chairman COSC, a post far less threatening than a five-star CDS.

The military deeply resents this humiliating lack of trust. A top Congress leader is known to have told both UPA defence ministers that appointing a CDS might invite a coup. Mr Antony is nothing if not a loyalist; he has assumed that appointing a permanent chairman COSC would be as risky as appointing a CDS, even though the Naresh Chandra Task Force suggested the former specifically as a way of bypassing the pitfalls of the latter. Now the MoD says that a permanent chairman COSC would be “a first step towards a CDS.”

Consultations, says the MoD, are on. It claims Mr Antony wrote to opposition leaders and other ministries in October/November, seeking “consensus”. Some have responded, says the ministry; what it does not say is that others never will.

Does Mr Antony really believe that it is acceptable to stall action in 2013 with exactly the same excuses of 2001 and 2005? Financial honesty, many in the military believe, must go hand in hand with intellectual honesty. 


  1. NO Mr Shukla,

    Its your fault and misreading. You simply expected too much from St Antony and the Congress Party despite knowing that there is a complete disconnect between Congress Party and the common sense.

    This party is scared of everything and everyone, similar to the Chinese Communist Party. Both parties are horrified of common people and their inherent power to transform things. And when a political party is scared, it will never do the right thing. That's how it ends up shooting in its own foot.

    Congress party firmly believes that people are stupid, they can't read the obvious, can't think about good and bad and can't think about nation, its security and prosperity. Unfortunately for them, the current generation of youth are both, equally aware and assertive of everything and every aspect. That's why this congress party will fall...and that fall will be massive and durable..

    Never will we make this mistake again of bringing these buffoons in power.

    So you also learn from this episode and wait for a better government..

    Someone said " BJP's national activism in 5 years has done far more to increase India's comprehensive national power than Congress's international pacifism of 60 years."

  2. 'Financial honesty, many in the military believe, must go hand in hand with intellectual honesty. ' So true but what about 'SPINE'?

  3. why sudden... IAF agreed... till now... they were against... What... Collusion... in works...

  4. Mr.Antony is notorious in delaying decision and proved he is inefficient during his tenure as Kerala Chief Minister. He was forced to quit. Being a Defence minister, he is in safe heaven as nobody will criticize him openly and hence able to continue so long despite of being inefficient.
    However, it is opined that Gen.Bikram Singh is not the right candidate for the post of COSC due to the fact there is allegation that his succession to the present post is part of a large conspiracy. Mr.Antony would have realised the facts now and want to at least prevent the accession of Gen.Bikram Singh to permanent COSC.

  5. Civilians kyon darte hain. Ham to hain rakhwale. koi bhakshak nahin.

  6. hello...........well written.

    St Anthony, I think, has been one of the most lame-duck RM's ever....apart from the this issue....look at mess in local production/HAL/PSU's...and forget about the long long list of procurements.......all the 'deals' still not closed despite the 'selections' ......I think, he has caused grievous harm to India's security/armed forces.......not to mention financial loses by not taking decisions in time and incurring cost escalations (eg M-777).........and, no one even talking about the MMRCA Rafale !!!!!

  7. Very well covered sir. Politicians shall never allow this to get formalised as it would be taken as a serious threat to National Leadership (Political Class). They fear such a post/appt may lead to dictatorship or military supremacy one day. More over their advisers (beurocrates) will not like the idea of Army Person having such an important post and say.Thats the fact and we have to live with it

  8. AK Anthony is a bitter disappointment as defense minister. His failure to finalize the MRCA deal, the severe lack of equipment, munitions and ammunition across various services, his failure to solve the Army's artillery problems, his failure to solve the officer-jawan troubles, his failure to solve the niggling administrative divisions in the MoD, etc are just some of his glaring shortcomings.

    Even the raison d'etre for his appointment - curbing procurement scandals has proven to be a dismal failure with the Agusta Westland AW101 bid scandal, the VK Singh TSD scandal, the Chinese intrusion at DBO show his rank incompetence.

    His "administrative" mantra seems to have been to completely stop taking any decisions in an attempt to not take the "wrong" decision. Had he been in charge during wartime, India would have faced crushing defeat.

    The only "cure" for the cancer of incompetence afflicting the MoD is to get retired military brass into politics and consequently gain elected office. The den of vipers nesting in the MoD have made any attempt to improve the military's roles and responsibilities impossible without a bureaucratic viper scuttling the process out of petty self interest and institutional cowardice.

  9. Another classic case of AK Antony's Intellectual and moral dishonesty was when Gen VK Singh informed him of the bribe offer.

    He did nothing.

    TSD report written by the DGMO, he did nothing. BTW, It is unheard of a DGMO to write any such reports as he is a very busy man.

    A simple matter of changing the birth day, he did nothing as was passing the buck.

    He may not have eaten money, but he just stood by and let wrong things happen while he kept mum.

    Thats like watching people burn in a house and you as a firefighter just stand their and watch. Dereliction of Duty....you bet.

  10. I cannot agree more... Having spent time in some of the autocratic Gulf countries, I would not be that disappointed even if appointment of CDS results in Coup...

  11. Mr Anthony was not made the defence minister because of his capabilities. It was just that he had a 'clean'. Image and that was the most important factor for a party still scarred by the Bofors case. The security of this country was and will never be a priority for a party whose top leader a.k.a Jawahar Lal Nehru had the gumption to do nothing but convey his condolences when he said that his 'heart goes out to the people of the Northeast' during the 1965 Indo-China war.

    Instead of Mr Anthony, the congress could have nominated my dog as the defence minister. After all my dog has all the qualities espoused by Mr Anthony:1. He is loyal, 2. He has a clean image, the only thing he seeks is a bone and 3. He doesn't understand a thing about national security.

  12. To start with, the political consensus will come about only if and when the political establishment gains something new or removes anything that would threaten what they are used to or have given themselves - not having the Lokpal, wanting to make a law allowing convicted politicians eligible till the final appeal is thrown out, red-beacons.
    In either establishing the CDS (which is what the IAF opposed from Tipnis' time and not permanent Chairman of CoSC, which he suggested)or the permanent Chairman CoSC, the political establishment gains nothing.
    Many write and talk about Antony's honesty/integrity. Really? Go into the political history of Kerala and his bouts with the late Karunakaran and you will read about a facet that has been glossed over.
    Read about the VVIP helicopter deal and you will never find what Antony did or did not do when the then Director SPG over-ruled him, a Union Cabinet Minister.
    Antony will not give anything because the MoD tells him not to. And when he approves notes that would now come up on 13 Feb 14 in the Contempt Petition, the world will see that the so-called integrity/honesty is but a convenient facade to hide sinister things like perjury, concealment of material facts from the Apex Court. So what is the CCS compared to that?

  13. Dont fool everybody CC, ur really sad coz the cavalry missed the oppurtunity to beocme Chief and reverse prorata. If you have the guts ppst thsi...you didnt post my last one...too close to home wasnt it ?


  14. Dear Sir,
    Mr.Antony does not want Indian Armed Forces to stage any military coup, since the new COSC position will concentrate immense military powers in the COSC. Hence he needs the political consensus.

  15. I think you're barking up the wrong tree. I would look closely at the advice given by the MOD bureaucrats to the politicos regarding the inadvisability of making the forces truly joint. It's got nothing to do with warfighting (although in that respect the forces would certainly stand to gain a lot). The denial of CDS/Chmn COSC and the refusal to truly integrate the MOD is linked. After all, today the situation is perfect for Mr Babu, 100 % power, zero % responsibility, and their ass is never on the line when the muck hits the fan. A coup is impossible in today's India, but greater accountability for the babu is inevitable when the forces stop fighting amongst each other and speak as one. CDS and integrated MOD is a must - only then can the warfighter crack on and do his job.


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