Indian Intelligence Organisation
Need or a Comprehensive Knowledge Management Strategy & Policy
Ldr AR Saluja, SC
India the highest body in the intelligence structure is the Cabinet
Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA). It functions under the Prime
Minister, and comprises Ministers of Defence, External Affairs, Home
and Finance. This body is assisted by a high powered committee of secretaries,
the chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, directors Research and Analysis
Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the chairman Joint Intelligence
in the multi tier intelligence system is the Joint Intelligence Committee
(JIC) in which senior representatives of the ministries of Defence,
Home and External Affairs, the RAW, the IB and the three directors of
intelligence of the Defence services, are integrated under a full time
Secretary. This committee is the highest intelligence assessment body
chartered to prepare national intelligence estimates and perspectives
on short and long term basis.
real task of collection and collation, analysis and dissemination of
intelligence rests with the large number of Intelligence agencies functioning
in the country. Intelligence Bureau (IB) is the oldest intelligence
agency, functioning under the Union Home Ministry, which is tasked to
provide inputs on developments affecting internal security and counter
intelligence. Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) established in 1985 is
organized to gather and analyse external intelligence inputs that affect
national security. The aim of military intelligence in our country is
primarily to collect information and assess the capabilities of foreign
military establishments that directly or indirectly threaten the security
of the country. The intelligence gathering apparatus includes a wide
variety of surveillance and intelligence gathering systems including
space based surveillance systems, air borne surveillance - manned and
un-manned, signal intelligence (SIGINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT)
and vital human intelligence HUMINT sources. In India the three arms
of the defence service have their own intelligence formations, headed
by directors of intelligence from the respective service, under whom
there is a directorate which collects intelligence and processes it
for further dissemination to the operators in the field as well as service
the two primary civilian intelligence organisations and the military
intelligence infrastructure, there are a number of other organisations,
which carry out the task of intelligence gathering and analysis, mainly
oriented towards security, vigilance, enforcement and policing functions.
These agencies have their defined sphere of activities concerning their
specific organisations. Some such organisations in the country are -
Central Bureau of Investigation, Narcotics Control Bureau, Directorate
of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, field level intelligence
units of the Police Organisations of different states. Besides these,
field level intelligence units of para-military organisations which
include - Border Security Force, Indo Tibetan Border Force, Central
Reserve Police Force, Territorial Army, Central Industrial Security
Force, Assam Rifles and Railway Police.1
for Knowledge Management
such a large and diverse Intelligence organisation, often there would
be diverse groups or agencies flung across the organisation collecting
and collating similar intelligence information. In the existing system
of communications and integration, neither of these groups would have
any clue about the other’s work or efforts, unless there is an effective
knowledge management infrastructure.
today’s knowledge driven military environment, the Indian Intelligence
organisation needs to be integrated, responsive, innovative, competent
and efficient. It can not depend on the current abysmally low levels
of intra-organisational interaction and coordination to contribute towards
the flow of appropriate information at the appropriate time. To effectively
function as an efficient Intelligence structure there is a need to utilize
the currently available technology and expertise to set up an integrated
communication network based on a comprehensive national Intelligence
Knowledge Management (IKM) strategy.
of Intelligence Knowledge Management
the years that these varied organisations have been in existence, their
operatives and sensors have collected large amounts of data. This includes
knowledge of enemy assets, his dispositions, economic, political and
military activities, political ideologies etc. These data are recorded
at different places in the organisation. Till date the data has probably
been recorded in registers, Intelligence folders, files or lately in
specific information systems that the specific department uses. However,
just the intelligence data is not Intelligence by itself. Proper analyses
of the data would yield useful information. Information is power. This
has never been more relevant than in today’s cutting edge technology
driven military warfare. Therefore, it is imperative for the Intelligence
organisation to harness the available information for it to be used
by the ‘right people at the right time’.
is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information,
and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating
new experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the
minds of knowers. In organisations, it often becomes embedded not only
in documents or repositories but also in organisational routines, processes,
practices and norms.2
is Knowledge Management?
is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying,
managing, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These
information assets may include databases, documents, policies and procedures,
as well as previously unarticulated expertise and experience resident
in individual workers.3 Knowledge Management or Information
Management has a vital role to play in the defence of the country. An
initiative by the US DOD towards effective management of knowledge systems
is the Information Technology Management (ITM) Strategic Plan. This
plan provides overall direction and guidance for managing the Department’s
information resources. The mission as defined in this strategic plan
is to provide, in a secure fashion, the right information, at the right
place and time from the right sources, in a form that users can understand
and reliably use to accomplish their missions and tasks effectively
Knowledge Base. The information that is collected by the numerous
agencies and stored in various forms for collation, analyses and subsequent
dissemination forms what is known as the tangible knowledge base or
explicit knowledge. It is essentially the knowledge that can be easily
recorded, stored and hence shared.5
Knowledge Base. Besides this quantifiable and recordable information,
there is this collective knowledge base that comes from experience and
rests in the heads of the operatives, the analysts, the area experts,
the issue experts and the field users. This is the knowledge base that
is more difficult to identify, record or share within the organisation.
Usually this knowledge is shared through informal sources and not in
a well defined or structured manner. Normally when a crisis comes up
the organisation is found looking towards its employees for an expert
who has had previous experience or knowledge in handling a similar crisis.
If such a person happens to be available at hand, his expertise is utilized
towards diffusion of the crisis. However, what happens when this expert
cannot be identified or is not available when required. More often than
not the organisation is not aware that they have these tremendous assets
in the form of experts within their own organisation who have grown
out of experience provided by their own very organisations.6
it is important for the IKM strategy to address the issue of management
of this intangible or tacit knowledge base as much as the issue of tangible
an Informated Organization
Armed Forces as well as other organisations in the Indian Intelligence
structure are being transformed into informated organisations. There
are individual attempts at developing MIS (Management of Information
Systems and decision support systems by the individual components of
the intelligence structure. There is increasing use of information in
these organisations with operators and end users having more and more
access to information. Most organisations today have indeed started
to pay some attention to the important aspect of information management.
it is important to realize that though this effort at transitioning
to an era of networked information systems is laudable, at individual
levels, it is still a maze of plethora of organisations often working
at cross-purposes and often resulting in considerable duplication of
effort with little synergy or coordination of effort. Instead of a "System
of systems" eventually materialising to unify the fighting forces
under one information umbrella, facilitating economy of force on the
battlefield, there is a plethora of competing IT systems which may not
be able to talk to each other. Let us therefore, have a look at the
main requirements of an effective Intelligence setup and a setup for
command and control system.7
The intelligence community needs to be an agile enterprise.
- Information from
the best sources needs to flow into multi-disciplined, cross-organisational
teams of analysts that respond quickly and effectively to continuing
threats and immediate crises.
- The astonishing
volume of information that is gathered through all source collection
methods, needs to be assessed, and in many cases further enriched
to assure its relevance to national policy issues, mission planning
and operational use.
- A system set
up wherein data is fed into models and simulations so that options
can be realistically assessed.
- Information must
easily flow across security levels.
- Information security
capabilities must ensure the protection of sensitive material and
and Control. The proverbial "fog of war" needs to
be lifted through integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
(ISR) capabilities. A common operating picture would let joint commanders
see the three-dimensional battle space in near-real time.
- The command
and control (C2) systems must develop courses of action and executable
plans in minutes, after simulation and analysis of all options.
- C2 systems
should seamlessly link the national, theater, operational and tactical
levels to ensure vertical and horizontal integration of forces.
- Where reaction
time must be in seconds, sensors must be able to acquire targets and
pass that information directly to smart weapons over high bandwidth
- We must be
able to use information warfare against our enemies, while protecting
our own vital information resources.
- All our systems
must be interoperable integrating all the three armed forces and the
civilian intelligence and decision making process by interoperable
and integrated systems and infrastructure.
superiority could then form the basis of a decisive edge in regional
dominance in South Asia.
Knowledge Management. This explicit or tangible knowledge base
needs to be worked upon in a joint manner keeping the basic tenets of
Revolution in Military Affairs in mind. There is a requirement to work
out a hierarchical and well-defined Communication and Information structure
for the management of this tangible knowledge base. This should essentially
- Coordinated and
centralized definition of goals and objectives.
- Sharing of sectional
responsibilities for intelligence gathering in overlapping domains.
- Making Intelligence
analyses and estimates available across the organisation through an
access based sharing system between different agencies.
- Systems for appropriate
"notification" and "Requests for Information"
- Coordinated collection,
analyses, sharing and dissemination of information.
- A responsive
system for two way communication for effective and timely delivery
of critical information and feedback.
can only be achieved by setting up a secure and reliable Intelligence
sharing and distribution network encompassing both the civilian and
military intelligence structure. The realisation of such a countrywide
information infrastructure and command and control net is an inescapable
necessity. This net would need to have all necessary protection and
security measures installed to ensure reliability, safety and redundancy
and the time to put these measures and checks in place is now and not
after the net has been established and compromised.
just achieving what has been outlined in the preceding paragraphs would
yet amount to completing only half the picture. For gaining the competitive
edge over the adversary it is essential to tap the large storehouse
of tacit knowledge base that is residing in the heads of the people
who constitute this intelligence framework. It is towards capturing
this intangible knowledge base that we need to develop a comprehensive
Intelligence Knowledge Management strategy and put the infrastructure
in place to implement this strategy using the KM tools available in
the market today or by developing our own custom defined IKM tools.
order to enmesh the requirements of effective Intelligence and Command
and Control setup using knowledge management tools, the Intelligence
Knowledge Management strategy would be shaped by the following KM imperatives:8
Gathering deals with the explicit knowledge base. It is based
upon examining and filtering the large volumes of data that are generated
or acquired by the various intelligence agencies. This data needs to
be analysed and at times it may need to be enriched with background
information to make the information relevant to the issue under analysis.
Only when some sense is made out it is classified as Information and
fed to the users. It is thus the data processed and filtered, which
constitutes the explicit usable knowledge base.
is about creating an environment in which users and different agencies
can interact and share information and knowledge more freely. Here knowledge
would include both explicit and tacit knowledge. All the various reports
and analyses could be made available to the appropriate agencies. Besides
individual agencies need to identify the experts within their organisation
and have their talent pool listed on their information systems which
will enable other agencies to have access to this intangible resource
Transfer is the area that actually takes into consideration
the formalisation of the transfer of the tacit knowledge base. This
encompasses the handing down of the experience within the organisation
through inter departmental exposure, training sessions classroom sessions
Mapping deals with the identification of the body of knowledge
within the organisation. Its main role is to identify the tacit knowledge
base and making a repository of all those skills and expertise in the
organisation. For example, we could have expert groups on Pakistan,
on nuclear proliferation, on Northeast whose analyses and estimates
could be called for by various intelligence agencies on ‘as required’
Management is based on the fact that a very small percentage
of the tacit knowledge in any organisation can be made explicit because
of the very nature of tacit knowledge. This brings out the importance
of identifying a talent pool, organising it and facilitating others
across the organisation to find it when required.
the knowledge needs in the overall Intelligence Organisation.
Who needs what knowledge and at what time? How much knowledge needs
to be made available to which level? Who needs to be given a knowledge
edge over others? Whether this knowledge edge is likely to contribute
to a power base within the organisation or no. All these issues need
to be considered.
Acquisition. How is the knowledge going to be acquired? What
kind of intelligence going to be acquired by which specific departments.
Are they equipped to acquire the needed intelligence?
design would require:
the network. The entire infrastructure must be able to manage the
internal data and its modulation and also manage the external information
flows. This phase is often referred to as the Knowledge Absorption
the right technologies. This is where the important activities of
Information Warehousing and Data mining would come into play. Information
Warehouse is an information repository containing storage
areas for similar set of information broken down into smallest meaningful
structures for easy retrieval. This is the stage wherein the interface
of IT comes into the KM initiative in the form of different software
and hardware solution. This needs to be clubbed with a data
mining operation in order to churn out intelligent information
which greatly impacts on the operating parameters of the organisation
and in turn helps in attaining the defined objectives.8
collaborative working and knowledge sharing mechanisms. This phase,
the next logical step in the KM initiative is termed as Information
Retrieval. This has more to do with system designing and database
applications so that the information pools synchronize with the user
all users and operatives in the tools, techniques and processes.
this phase would provide a technical solution for implementing the IKM
strategy. The logical solution would need to be mapped with the various
KM technologies (like document management, information flow management,
and collaboration) and also designing the technical architecture for
Implementation. This involves:
the network. Build a framework to determine the value of information.
Our military capabilities are heavily dependent on focused information.
The value of information is a primary discriminator in military decisions
and information assurance protection strategies that focus on priority
targets. This strategy requires developing and applying knowledge
management methods and tools for helping an end user determine the
value of information to their missions and tasks (and the risks of
not having the information). This methodology, if successful, can
help reduce the "glut" of information and enable the Intelligence
community to treat information itself as a commodity.
and Refining a knowledge performance index for the activity.
improvements on an ongoing basis.
of a Knowledge-Based Workforce. Effectively utilize existing
personnel processes, collaborate with other organizations to create
new policies, and implement a multi-faceted approach to acquiring,
retaining, and maintaining highly skilled personnel in the Information
/ Knowledge Management and IT fields. Use the recruitment process
to acquire skilled personnel based on core competencies.
relationships between KM/IT activities in different domains.
Identify the relationships between KM/IT applied in different domains
to ensure that overarching objectives such as interoperability, information
security, and efficiency are met; and mission threads, such as sensor-to-shooter,
are effective. Dependencies such as those between IT activities in
support missions (e.g., procurement, personnel) and the common infrastructure
are described and strategies for managing them established. Interoperable
IT is integral to the effectiveness of our weapon systems.
that the Intelligence Network’s vital information resources are secure
and protected. In today’s environment of sophisticated weaponry
and fast pace of the modern battlefield, the ability to provide timely
accurate information is vital to all aspects of military operations.
Information Assurance (IA) and security is essential to achieve and
maintain information superiority which would enable free and timely
flow of information to the end user.
an Integrated Security Management Infrastructure. Integrate
a broad spectrum of network services (e.g., audit, intrusion detection,
operational network monitoring and control) into the Intelligence
network security management infrastructure. Confidence in the secure
operation of the Intelligence network must be grounded in a real-time
understanding of network-wide activities. Further, the ability to
identify when network users have gained access to unauthorized areas
or information or to be able to attribute specific network activity
to specific users of the network is an important factor in dealing
with the insider threat.
To support its
users as they improve mission performance, the IKM community must continue
to reengineer its internal processes to be more effective and efficient.
There are certain checklists, which must be complied with when managing
Intelligence Knowledge Management networks and systems. These are:
- The IKM community
must maintain a user-oriented focus and must measure user satisfaction
through regular feedback.
- Systems and
technical architectures must be applied to ensure interoperability
- The IT acquisition
process must use prototypes, demonstrations, and exercises to evolve
IT capabilities in full collaboration with end users.
- IT services
and products must be benchmarked to achieve "world-class"
performance at the lowest possible cost.
- IKM organisations
must continually improve their internal processes, such as software
design and technology insertion.
- IKM must
empower its people and embody the principles of a "learning organisation".
- The IKM community,
working in partnership with its end users, must streamline the processes
and the infrastructure to eliminate unnecessary headquarters staff.
must be empowered and accountable.
stovepipes and hierarchical thinking must give way to horizontal teaming
and cross-functional integration.
paradigms for IKM must fully realize the value of information as a resource.
Information needs to be managed by and for users. Information specialists
must help users to find the information they need, assess and assure
its fitness for use, and provide professional knowledge as needed through
the network to assure end user satisfaction. The entire intelligence
dissemination network must be seamlessly integrated and transparent
to user. Procedures to ensure new capabilities are continually transitioned
into the infrastructure without any disruption in ongoing operations.
Advanced technologies such as data mining, intelligent agents, and mobile
computing must be made available to appropriate users regardless of
their location or activity.
is time the National Security Council and the JIC consider this important
aspect which would have a telling impact on any future conflict. India
is in a unique position with a talent resource, which is the envy of
most nations in the world. If we do not tap the requisite human resources
and do not assign adequate funds to put in place the necessary infrastructure
we would have no one else to blame but ourselves for not paying heed
to the winds of RMA which are sweeping the armed forces the world over.
Mission processes, information uses and services must be clearly understood
and communicated to drive Knowledge management planning and resource
decisions. The link from doctrine, strategy, goals, measures, and architectures
to IT must be clear and compelling. The time to act is now and not after
the gaping holes in our (Intelligence) Knowledge Management strategy
Ldr AR Saluja "Reorganizing Indian Intelligence Organisation",
Indian Defence Review Jul-Sep 1998 Vol. 13 (3) pp. 35-44.
H Davenport & Laurence Prusak, "Working Knowledge: How Organisations
Manage What They Know." Harvard Business School Press. Boston,
Group Inc 1996 – as quoted on their web site.
Management Strategic Plan" - Information Superiority Version 2.0
published by the Chief Information Officer, US DOD in Oct 1999.
Balaji "How Much Does your Company know?" Express Computer,
17 April 2000, p. 15.
Effective Defence", Bharat Karnad, Indian Defence Review
Jan-Mar 1998, Vol. 13(1).
Absorption" Mahendra Saxena, Express Computer, 17 April
2000, p. 6.
inputs have been derived from the "Information Management Strategic
Plan" - Information Superiority Version 2.0 published by the Chief
Information Officer, US DOD in Oct 1999. The ideal projected intelligence
setup and command and control setup referred to in the text is modeled
on the existing features of the corresponding systems in the US DOD.