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Editorial of the Day (8 July): What an NSA Does?

Context: The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) has undergone significant restructuring with the appointment of a new Additional National Security Advisor (ANSA) and changes in reporting relationships within NSCS and between the National Security Advisor (NSA) and Union ministries.

Changes in Organization and Role

  • Expansion of the NSA’s Team: The NSA now oversees a larger team including an ANSA and three deputy NSAs. This expansion suggests a more comprehensive approach to handling national security.
  • Role Shift: The NSA’s role appears to have shifted from operational to more advisory, focusing on coordination with bodies like the National Security Advisory Board and the Strategic Policy Group.
  • Reporting Structure: High-level officials such as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), service chiefs, and various Union secretaries must report to the NSA, though they continue to report to their respective ministers for daily operations.
  • Role of ANSA: The ANSA acts as a gatekeeper in the communication chain, adding an additional bureaucratic layer between the Prime Minister (PM) and those monitoring national security daily.
    • It is unclear whether the NSA or ANSA or both will conduct the PM’s daily security briefings.


  • Over the years, NSAs have typically been appointed from either foreign service or police service backgrounds.
  • The lack of clearly defined criteria for the NSA’s appointment has led to ongoing debates about the ideal professional background (diplomat, intelligence officer, military officer, or scholar) for this position.
  • Questions about the NSA’s appropriate role—whether it should be focused on diplomatic, bureaucratic, military, police, or intelligence aspects—and the optimal focus on internal versus external security continue to be debated.

Structural Recommendations

  • Direct Reporting for CDS: There’s a suggestion that the Chief of Defence Staff should report directly to the PM instead of maintaining just a consultative relationship with the NSA, a change intended to enhance the effectiveness of defence modernization and organisation amidst security challenges.

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