NEW DELHI: Finalisation of a comprehensive national security strategy (NSS) and creation of the post of a tri-Service chief are among the “important priorities” of the new Modi-led government, say top sources.

Though there is some scepticism within the country’s security establishment about the utility of having a NSS as well as a new tri-Service chief in the shape of a permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (PC-CoSC), sources said the two “long-pending and long-deliberated measures” figure high on the government’s radar screen in the national security arena.

"A draft NSS is already ready…The final version will, of course, have to be first approved by national security adviser Ajit Doval and the National Security Council (NSC) before it comes up for clearance by the Cabinet Committee on Security," said a source.

"Similarly, the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs agreed in writing to the proposal for the PC-CoSC over a year ago. In the Modi 2.0 government, there will be a stronger push for systemic reforms in the overall national security architecture, which could not be undertaken in the 2014-2019 timeframe," added the source.

The NSS will be a “formal overarching document” that will lay down India’s long-term national objectives and interests in the face of external and internal threats. “Different ministries, departments and wings of the government will be able to derive their individual goals from the NSS, with the overall aim being to safeguard India’s territorial integrity and strategic autonomy,” said another source.

There have been several attempts in the past to formalise a NSS but all failed to get the government’s final approval. In the latest such endeavour, the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) -- an expert group under the NSC -- had also prepared a draft NSS on the directions of the PMO last year.

Similarly, the post of a tri-Service chief – a four-star general like the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs – has been hanging fire since the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan despite the urgent need to inject some much-needed synergy in planning, budgeting, procurement, training and logistics in the three Services, which often pull in different directions.

The PC-CoSC will focus on “capacity and capability development” in the armed forces, with hard-nosed inter-Service prioritisation required to systematically build military power within budgetary constraints.

The existing CoSC comprises the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs, with the senior-most among them being the chairman by rotation. “The PC-CoSC will have no operational role, with the three chiefs being left free to run their own Services,” said the source.

The proposed post is actually a watered-down version of the original plan to have a chief of defence staff to provide “single-point military advice” to the government, which was found lacking by the political leadership during the Kargil conflict.