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Much ado about national security adviser (4)

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Security, national security adviser

By Eric Teniola

THE same Sir Darroch is the one involved recently with President Donald trump in diplomatic row as Britain’s ambassador to the United States.

On India, the National Security Advisor, NSA, is tasked with regularly advising the prime minister on all matters relating to internal and external threats to the country, and oversees strategic issues. The NSA of India also serves as the prime minister’s special interlocutor on border issues with China, and frequently accompanies the prime minister on foreign state visits.

The following have served as national security advisors in India. They are Brajesh Mishra (November 1998-May 2004), J.N. Dixit (May 2004-January 2005), M.K. Narayanan (January 2005- January 2010), Shivshankar Menon (January 2010-May 2014) and Ajit Doval (May 2014, incumbent).They are all civil servants or diplomats.

Among the national security advisers in USA only seven were Generals. Since 1953 the national security advisers are Robert Cutler (March 23, 1953-April 2, 1955), Dillon Anderson (April 2, 1955-September 1, 1956), William Harding Jackson (September 1, 1956-January 7, 1957), Robert Cutler (January 7, 1957-June 24, 1958), Gordon Gray (June 24, 1958-January 13, 1961), McGeorge Bundy (January 20, 1961-February 28, 1966), Walt Rostow (April 1, 1966-January 20,1969), Henry Kissinger (January 20, 1969-November 3, 1975), Brent Scowcroft (November 3, 1975-January 20, 1977), Zbigniew Brzezinski (January 20, 1977-January 20, 1981), Richard V. Allen (January 21, 1981-January 4, 1982), William P. Clark, Jr. (January 4, 1982-October 17, 1983), Robert McFarlane (October 17, 1983-December 4, 1985), Admiral John Poindexter (December 4, 1985-November 25, 1986), Frank Carlucci (December 2, 1986-November 23, 1987, Colin Powell (November 23, 1987-January 20, 1989), Brent Scowcroft (January 20, 1989-January 20, 1993), Anthony Lake (January 20, 1993-March 14, 1997), Sandy Berger (March 14, 1997-January 20, 2001), Condoleezza Rice (January 22, 2001-January 25, 2005), Stephen Hadley (January 26, 2005-January 20, 2009), James Jones (January 20, 2009-October 8, 2010), Tom Donilon (October 8, 2010-July 1, 2013), Susan Rice (July 1, 2013-January 20, 2017)H. R. McMaster (February 20, 2017-April 9, 2018), John R. Bolton  (April 9, 2018- September 18, 2019) and Robert O’Brien (September 18, 2018 till date)

In Nigeria the national security adviser supervises activities of the security agencies like DSS, NIA, DIA, NPF, NA, NAF, NN and to a large extent even the quasi agencies, like Civil Defence, NDLEA, the Fire Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Service and EFCC but the last six are not too attached to the ONSA, like the first seven agencies. The first group is grouped in what is called the Intelligence community committee (ICC), and this group meets, weekly at ONSA, to review all the security situation of the country and challenges, and try to proffer solutions. It is normally chaired by the NSA, or the most senior person, among them, in his absence. It is, however, instructive, to know that, these agencies, are all independent, they have their heads, and have their budgets, separate from ONSA, and are all Sevice Chiefs, who have access to the President, directly, without going through the NSA, if the need arises, but report all their activities, almost on daily basis to the NSA.

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The second group, is kind of second class, in terms of access, to either, the President or NSA, as most of them are controlled directly by ministers. They, however, attend the fortnightly meetings at ONSA, called Joint Intelligence Board, JIB. The JIB is an enlarged security committee, and many agencies, parastatal and even some permanent secretariess and ministers attend, from time to time, depending on the matters to be discussed. Normally ONSA sends invitations sometimes. The office of the Permanent Secretary, Special Services act as secretary, of these meetings.

Beside these major activities ONSA, also has a lot of other departments directly working under it, like the Office of Counter Terrorism, Office of Rehabilitation and Reorientation. International Department, Issuance of end user licenses, for the importation of all arms, explosives, military and paramilitary equipment and all security assets, including bullet proof vehicles. This a summary of the functions of ONSA. The larger JIB also consist of NEMA, ICPC, NPA, FAAN, NIMASA and the rest. The first group attends both meetings and other ad hoc meetings.

The functions of the National Security Adviser varies from administration to administration; and depends, not only on the qualities of the person appointed to the position, but also on the style and management philosophy of the incumbent President. There is no doubt that a career in the military or indeed any of the intelligence agencies is good consideration for appointment as NSA.

However, unlike in Nigeria where all appointees to the position since 1990 have not just come from the military but Army background, those appointed to the post of national security adviser across the globe have come from diverse backgrounds, especially in the United States, United Kingdom and India. This is a pointer to the fact that what the position requires are not necessarily military or combatant skills. Managerial and some peculiar skills, especially the ability to harness and exercise due diligence and respect in treating briefs from every member of the intelligence community and to respond to their needs with equal attention appear to be the non-disputable requirements of the post.

In this regard, for an appointee into the position of NSA, a career background in the military or any of the bodies in the intelligence community could be a burden in terms of getting the other members of the Community to see fairness and objectivity in the way their agencies are treated as well as the level of importance attached to their intelligence briefs and other submissions.



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