The nomination of Noordin Haji as the Director General National Intelligence Service (NIS) heralds a new chapter for the Service and national security in general. The appointment brings about three critical issues in intelligence provision.
It is the first time that the NIS is being headed by a person without military or police training. It has also changed the practice of appointing heads of the National Police Service and NIS from outside the security institutions.
In addition, the nomination reinforces expert opinion that diverse philosophies and doctrines exist in the different security intelligence fields of national intelligence, military intelligence, criminal intelligence and competitive intelligence and therefore should be served by qualified personalities from those fields.
The nomination of Haji is apt due to the fact that he has a lot of training locally and abroad in many disciplines, including security and intelligence matters. He also has a lot of experience in security, government and in the criminal justice system.
Such expertise is necessary since the current dictates of security intelligence need a person who is well versed with knowledge from many disciplines that form the core elements of national security. It is also in line with the knowledge required to satisfy government intelligence priorities and changes in the operating environment.
However, some critical issues in the operating environment would need to be surmounted if success has to be assured. The government decision-making has changed with the incorporation of security advisors as well as think-tanks in its search for alternative views to reinforce decision making.
This means that the receivers of intelligence are well versed and therefore intelligence has to be top-notch to navigate this multifaceted reporting environment. Likewise, the current security environment is characterised by a broad and multidimensional philosophy in security provision.
Human security issues have become core to national security, necessitating interdependence between political, military and socio-economic issues. This has expanded issues for which security intelligence has to report on.
Haji's first task therefore is to understand President Ruto’s national security philosophy and doctrine as well as the expectations of Kenyans. These can be discerned from Dr Ruto's pronouncements during the 2022 election campaigns and now while he is the president and the Kenya Kwanza manifesto. In the president’s elucidation, four fundamental issues are necessary in the achievement of national security.
These are security for all throughout the republic, an improved economy for all stimulated from the bottom and societal transformation in important areas including education, health, housing and digital spheres.
The president is therefore clear about solving common security problems existing internally, which have lingered for a long time through investing in new security strategies, externally through limited discriminatory use of force and having strategic partners to deal with common issues of security.
Consequently, the Service would need to be transformed to ensure that the intelligence machinery is responsive and focused on the issues of significance to government and the people.
The adjustments would make security intelligence consistent with the policy needs of the State through aligning it with national security priorities of government.
The changes would link intelligence production to national security policy goals that stem from national government priorities. This would properly align and provide strategic direction to the agency as well as elevating intelligence production to a level where it would be the prime information provider to national security.
There is also need for a robust system that would bring consistency in the production of security intelligence that is evidence-based, relevant, objective, authoritative, complete, and timely and which is critical in preparation of national security strategies. Such information would bring about pro-activeness and make the State to avoid strategic surprises which would occasion national security crises.
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The enhanced intelligence production would also assist the State to stay ahead at the international level through providing information that would help come up with requisite strategies to aid in achievement of Kenya’s national interests.
The national intelligence policy and strategy have also to be adjusted to make them proactive to the changing internal and external security situations. The aim is to aid in coming up with multi-level and multi-pronged approaches to intelligence production.
The strategy adopted is for achieving mission goals crafted in consideration of the national security objectives stemming from national security priorities. The security agency has therefore to develop strategies that take into consideration the economic power of the State. There should be a balance between the resources and the prioritised issues that the agency would deal with.