What is a National Security Strategy?


  • A long wait is said to be coming to an end as the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) sets about drafting India’s first written National Security Strategy (NSS).

What will it take to draft such a strategy?

  • The NSS would have to embrace all aspects of security.
  • Military security would be only one aspect of the canvas, which would include economic, internal, diplomatic, human, climate, food, water, and every other conceivable form of security necessary for the well-being of India’s people.
  • Military and internal security would be a significant enabler for every other kind of security to be guaranteed.
  • The management of defence and internal security would therefore need to be robust and articulated well.
  • It is beyond the capability and understanding of a handful of people who staff the NSCS, however brilliant they may be, individually and collectively.
  • Each of the numerous aspects of security is in itself multidimensional, and would impact the manner in which we conduct business.
  • The preparation of the NSS, therefore, would necessarily be an iterative process.
  • It would need many reiterations of inter-ministerial consultancy and gamed several times over before it is ready for consideration by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which would then accord final approval.
  • The NSS would contain several features that may not be appropriate for public release.
  • There will thus be a need for two versions, one for the public and one strictly for a classified readership.

What is a National Security Strategy?

What would be the guiding principles of the National Security Strategy?

  • Doctrine normally precedes strategy.
    • A doctrine is a set of established or agreed principles that guide actions.
    • A strategy is a plan of action that emanates from doctrine.
  • While doctrines are more permanent than strategies, they must also remain flexible to cater for changing paradigms and major conceptual shifts. Doctrines must be reviewed periodically to ensure that they remain relevant and do not become dogmas. And with every update in doctrine, the strategy must be reviewed.
  • Another feature of doctrine and strategy is that they must be taught in order to facilitate a common understanding among planners and practitioners of national security.
  • This is yet another need that the NSS must fulfill.

What doctrines and strategies must the National Security Strategy be mindful of?

  • There is a hierarchy of doctrines. Doctrines at the national strategic level are formulated and approved at the highest echelons of government — for example, the Nuclear Doctrine.
  • Lower doctrines are formulated at the military-strategic, operational, and tactical levels for different levels of war-fighting (in the military) or tackling internal disorder (for police/ paramilitary forces).
  • Each higher doctrine and its accompanying strategy must guide the formulation of associated lower doctrines.
  • The NSS must serve this critical doctrinal function.
  • The NSS should become the starting point for theaterisation of the Indian armed forces.
  • It should, therefore, state that the Indian armed forces will be constituted into theatres, with the Theatre Commander (TC) being responsible to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) for all military operations conducted in the theatre.
  • The NSS should also provide doctrinal clarity on all aspects that will enable the CDS to draft his Theatre Doctrines, which in turn will guide the TCs to formulate their theatre strategies.
  • Every other lower doctrine or strategy will take guidance from and be in consonance with the higher doctrines.
  • Therefore, apart from lateral consultations, vertical consultations may also be prudent while formulating not just the NSS but lower doctrines as well.

Source: IE

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