Army owes its success to intelligence agencies, says Lt General Naravane

Mubarak Ansari
Sunday, 22 December 2019

Army Chief-designate Lt General Manoj Naravane on Saturday said that no military operation is successful without the support of intelligence agencies. 

Pune: Army Chief-designate Lt General Manoj Naravane on Saturday said that no military operation is successful without the support of intelligence agencies. 

Lt Gen Naravane, who is currently Vice Chief of Army Staff, was speaking at the launch of former journalist Nitin Gokhale’s book ‘RN Kao: Gentleman Spymaster’ at the College of Engineering Pune (CoEP). 

In 1968, Kao became the legendary Founder-Director of RAW which is India’s foreign intelligence agency. It was created by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi against the backdrop of intelligence failures in the 1962 Indo-China War and 1965 India-Pakistan War. 

V Balachandran, former Special Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and former Pune Police Commissioner Jayant Umranikar, who has also worked at RAW, were also present on the dais. 

Gen Naravane said, “Military operations and intelligence go hand in hand. In fact, whenever we have an operational briefing, it always starts with ‘khabar dushman ke bare main’ (information about the enemy) and that khabar (information) is what we get from our intelligence operatives. I dare say that none of our military operations would have been successful had it not been for the support from the various intelligence agencies including RAW. The Armed Forces owe to the intelligence agencies for the contribution they have made for the nation’s security.”

Lt Gen Naravane, who hails from Pune, in his first public function after being designated as next chief of Army staff, added, “When we talk or think of intelligence, we normally think of James Bond, guns, girls, guitars and glamour. But the world of intelligence is not that. It is more like John Le Carre’s Smiley’s People. Unseen, unheard of, unknown and working behind the scenes. While going through the volumes of data, reports and returns, to have then the intellectual capacity to piece together nuggets of information that make up the jigsaw puzzle. That is where this book on RN Kao aptly brings out that it was all about - tireless work behind the scenes, mostly unheard of, unknown. The books bring him to life for us.”

Speaking about Kao, Balachandran, who had worked extensively with him, said, “He had a knack for recruiting the correct person for a particular assignment. Also, he was more heard than seen. He had an aura which admired by the subordinates about whom he cared a lot.”

‘Scrap Official Secrets Act, declassify RAW, IB records’ 
Balachandran called for scrapping the British-era Official Secrets Act which is an obstacle in releasing government records. 

“The government should declassify official records of RAW and Intelligence Bureau (IB) after 20 years as they become part of history. There is lot of information related to Bangladesh liberation war and crisis with Pakistan, which people should know now. There should be a policy that RAW, IB records will be declassified. In a democracy, we should have new laws not the Official Secrets Act of the British who wanted to suppress the freedom movement and freedom of expression. Some information can be withheld where there are chances that it can cause war, misunderstanding, etc, but other information can be released.”

‘RAW should have website like CIA, Mossad’
Speaking about the recruitment policy of RAW, Balachandran said that the agency should come out of ‘mechanical deputation’ policy to attract more talent through websites like America’s CIA and Israel’s Mossad. 

“Officers are sent on deputation to the agency but not all of them are good intelligence officers. Also, many departments send ‘unwanted’ officers on deputation. I believe like the CIA and Mossad we should also recruit people openly by having own website. Earlier, Mossad only recruited people known to their officers but they have also changed and recruit openly. That is why they are so successful,” he added.

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