16. Lumbering Intelligence. The Kargil dispute was the outcome of intelligence slip-ups. The army was caught off guard, as we did not know about the presence of the invaders in Kargil, till May 1999. Regardless of India’s well-organised intelligence set-up, Pakistan shocked us in the 1999 Himalayan violation. It was an absolute intelligence failure. We did not know of their identity, dispositions and actual numbers inside the Indian Territory. The Indian situation is characteristic of a highly politicised external control of the intelligence agencies. There are instances of intelligence failures of such magnitude in the developed nations also. However, they have all been thoroughly enquired into, responsibilities fixed and remedial measures are taken. This has affected the armed forces too in a number of ways. An unpleasant competitiveness between two of nations leading intelligence organisations, Research and Analysis Wing and Military Intelligence, has led to major lapses and thus many casualties in the Indian Army.
17. The coordination of military intelligence has also been insufficient in terms of producing effective and timely output. For example, during Kargil, the aircraft which was meant to remain stationed and gather information was deputed on a separate tasking. It was the ‘Bakerwals’ who gave the information that armed men were sitting on the top. Indian officials and security experts are of the opinion that if a structural change, ensuring the correct representation of the armed forces at the apex level existed, the weakness of the security apparatus could have been overcome. Further, attitudinal changes in the Indian polity, especially military, are also required to avoid future surprises like Kargil.
18. The terrorist attack on Mumbai was also a glaring example of poor decision-making of Indian political and also to an extent military leadership. Nearly 200 people lost their lives and the nation was humiliated. The mistakes were all similar and again only a repetition of what we failed to learn from the past.
19. Disregard to Intelligence Warning. In the months leading up to the terrorist attacks that struck Mumbai, the signs of looming catastrophe were unmistakable. The Mumbai police had learned of warnings of planned attacks on the city’s major landmarks, including its high-end hotels and passed the information to Indian intelligence. The CIA was a primary source of these tip-offs and had a source inside Lashkar-e-Taiba. According to intelligence provided, Mumbai’s attackers were likely to arrive by sea. Yet when the DPC was approached for a relevant port security strengthening, it was indicated that funding was lacking. The Mumbai Police Commissioner also wrote to the Commandant Coast Guard, identifying obvious vulnerabilities . Nevertheless, despite all intelligence there were no concrete steps taken to thwart this attack. Ten terrorists crossed the Arabian Sea from Karachi to Mumbai on 26 November 2008. They confidently executed the one of the worst terrorist attacks in India’s history. A coordinated and deliberate debate regarding the threat, ordered by an appropriate service head may have prevented the attack at a preliminary stage. Even a repeated notice by the IHQ to the Home Ministry may have resulted in actions to avert the attack.
20. Uncoordinated Assets. Even after the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) had managed to intercept the phone conversations between the fidayeen and their handlers, the apprehending of the terrorists was hampered by poor planning, and complete unpreparedness. The National Security Guard, whose members are trained for rescuing hostages, could only reach the attack site of the Taj Mahal hotel after a wait of 12 hours. The unit was not even given the signal to mobilise for the first few hours which wasted precious reaction time to transport them from Delhi. They were also handicapped by lack of personal protective gear and faulty equipment. The decision to send the MARCOS, who were much closer to the location of the attack, was being debated fearing that they were ‘the wrong dog for the fight’. Eventually, it was only by the next day that fewer than twenty MARCOS were deployed after deliberation and specifics orders to try and restrict the terrorist in their present locations. A singular apex authority to decide and further direct the available forces, including issues of transportation etc, would have ensured a better response.