The Kargil Review Committee report has many lessons in intelligence assessment
TAKEN BY SURPRISE Pak aggression came as a complete surprise to the Indian government, Army, intelligence agencies, J&K government and its agencies.
LACK OF COORDINATION Inadequate coordination at the ground level among Army intelligence, other agencies and the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). R&AW facility in Kargil area did not have enough staff or technological capability. Inputs received by IB were not addressed to 1. Secretary (R&AW), who had the resources to follow up the leads in the report; 2. Chairman JIC, who would have accounted for the information in his assessments; 3. Director-General Military Intelligence.
POOR PROCESSES The Army assessment did not figure in the R&AW inputs to the DGMI. No institutionalised process for R&AW, IB, BSF and Army intelligence to interact periodically at levels below the JIC. JIC reports do not receive due attention. Downgraded assessment process means only junior officials sent to JIC meetings. The DGMI did not send any regular inputs to the JIC for two years preceding the Kargil crisis. No system of regular intelligence briefings at the political level and to the Committee of Secretaries.
TURF CONFLICTS The JIC chairman generally goes to an IPS officer who was a runner-up for the post of Secretary (R&AW) or DIB. No checks and balances in the intelligence system to ensure that the consumer gets all available intelligence.
REASONS FOR INTELLIGENCE FAILURES
■ Lack of information
■ Underestimation or overestimation of the enemy’s intentions.
■ Lack of communication between intel agencies and the executive or operations.
■ Embedded opinions also referred to as ‘received opinion’ or ‘conventional wisdom’ which are accepted without reinvestigation.
■ Tendency to predict enemy actions by own actions in similar conditions, sometimes called ‘mirror imaging’.
■ Lack of professional analysts and intelligence practitioners.
■ Information overload without means to handle it
■ Competition between agencies and a resultant lack of cooperation
■ Poor training of personnel
■ Failure to connect pieces of information.
■ Subordination of intelligence to policy, where intel practitioners are goaded into supplying intelligence to suit policy when aspects of intelligence which do not support policy are ignored.
Source: Institute for Strategic Studies, University of Pretoria