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Facilitator adds to intelligence red tape

New Delhi, March 6: The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) set up to coordinate the work of multiple intelligence agencies completed a year today with little to show that it is fulfilling its brief but with mounting evidence that it has made gathering and sharing of information more bureaucratic.

The DIA was set up under the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), itself an experiment carried out on the recommendation of a Group of Ministers, and has effectively meant that intelligence operatives and officials abroad have an additional power centre to report to apart from their parent outfits.

Sources said it is the DIA’s job to interact with military attaches with embassies in India and with Indian military attaches in embassies abroad. The attaches do report to the DIA but continue to brief their service directorates at the same time because they are not clear about the chain of command.

This is because the DIA is an agency under the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff reporting to the chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee — a post currently held by Lt General Pankaj Joshi — which is an interim arrangement.

Neither the defence ministry nor the Cabinet has made up its mind on the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), one of the most important recommendations of the Group of Ministers that studies the defence establishment after the 1999 Kargil war. It was envisaged that the integration of defence staff — as in the US military that has joint commands — would be overseen by the CDS.

The DIA is currently headed by a director-general, Lt General Kamal Davar, who also doubles as deputy chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Intelligence). The DIA was asked during the nearly year-long mobilisation under Operation Parakram to study satellite images.

However, the sources said, the DIA’s inputs during Parakram did not add value to information already with the intelligence directorates of the army, the navy and the air force. The DIA does not have “humint” — short for “human intelligence” — of its own and has to rely on other agencies.

It is understood that the army headquarters is also not fully convinced of placing the Defence Information Warfare Agency (Diwa) — a counter-intelligence and propaganda outfit — under the DIA. The Diwa would be providing the military inputs to the National Information Board under national security adviser Brajesh Mishra.

Defence ministry sources officially claim that the DIA has been coordinating the work of the existing military, naval and air force intelligence directorates “and works in concert with the RAW, IB and the National Security Council Secretariat for providing timely intelligence inputs to national security planners”.

RAW itself is a wing of the cabinet secretariat and DIA cannot be expected to coordinate its work.

“DIA has operationalised effectively and is working in close harmony with its sister intelligence agencies. With the formation of the Defence Intelligence Agency, the intelligence community in India gets further integrated, modernised and strengthened,” the ministry has officially stated.

At the field level, however, this has only resulted in a multiplicity of authorities.

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