Indian Army needs an intellectual transformation

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by ALBY, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. ALBY

    ALBY Elite Member Elite Member

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    At the end of the First World War, the three main military forces in Europe, the British, French and the Germans, faced different but similar problems - how to prepare for future uncertainties. In what is now known as the inter-war years, these three militaries imagined war differently and trained, planned and equipped accordingly. In May 1940, however, in six devastating weeks, the German Blitzkrieg defeated the French and British forces in continental Europe and changed the face of warfare. Unlike what is commonly believed, there was nothing inevitable about their victory as the Allied forces enjoyed material superiority - in tanks, artillery and infantry. The Germans won mainly due to the superiority of their intellect and imagination of their High Command. The French historian and resistance hero Marc Bloch in his classic Strange Defeat admitted as such when he wrote that the German victory was essentially "a triumph of the intellect." While history is an inexact science it might be instructive for Indian military leaders, confronting strategic uncertainties of their own, to study this period and internalise the need for an intellectual transformation in their own organizations.
    According to some estimates, the Indian military is poised to acquire hardware worth $120 Billion over the next six years. Considered in isolation that is an impressive figure, however this is less comforting when compared to the unpredictable consequences stemming from the rise of Chinese military power (some estimate that the current military budget is a $150 billion), a relative decline, real and perceptual, in U.S. and NATO power, an unpredictable, apparently irreconcilable Pakistan and seemingly prolonged instability in Afghanistan. To prepare for all eventualities arising from such challenges, the Indian military rightly appears to be on course for a hardware transformation. However, even more important is the need for an intellectual transformation, the evidence for which is spotty at best.
    One of the biggest obstacles to the intellectual development of Indian military officers is their inability to learn from the past - a prerequisite for strategic thinking. Hence, for instance, military leaders will be unable to name one book on the post-independence military that relies on official documents. Instead, all we have is either self-exculpatory autobiographies or hagiographies. Even when written, for instance by the History department of the Ministry of Defence or by the Navy (by far a different service), the primary sources on which they are based are unavailable to ordinary researchers. It is not surprising therefore that whatever impartial accounts we have relied on archives based overseas. However, the import of this fact is significant - this is a military that cannot honestly analyse it's past. Some military officers rightly point out that this is true of all other major government bureaucracies including the Ministries of Defence, Home, External Affairs, and so on. However, this larger societal failure should not absolve the military as it controls its own destiny and can unilaterally declassify historical records.
    There are at least three other factors that hinder the intellectual development of the Indian officer corps. First, there is almost no civilian involvement in professional military education. As a result instruction at military academies usually ends up perpetuating convenient organizational myths. In contrast, civilian instructors at war colleges in most other democracies encourage out-of-the-box thinking and organizational criticism. More importantly, they research and publish on topics closely related to strategic studies. The absence of this career stream in India inhibits civilian knowledge "of matters military." Second, there is an overemphasis on regimental spirit that results in a desire to cover-up and disallows self-criticism. Hence in the name of regimental and service "izzat" mistakes if any are conveniently buried. Finally, there is almost no career incentive for intellectual study, publishing in professional journals or encouraging study leave to enhance skill-sets. As a result, unlike other militaries, the concept of scholar-warriors is not adequately emphasized.
    However, with acquisition of new technologies and the advantages of the information revolution there is some hope that an intellectual transformation is possible. For instance, with the ability for mid-air refuelling officers of the Indian Air Force increasingly talk of a sub-continental area of operations perceptually broadening their intellectual horizons. Similarly, there is increasing exposure especially among junior officers to intellectual debates in other militaries.
    Ultimately, however, an intellectual transformation can only be realized with the active encouragement of senior military leaders. While some of them acknowledge the need for such an effort the vast majority of senior officers are either not cognizant of the problem or are satisfied with the status quo. One of the reasons for the success of the German High Command in the Blitzkrieg operations lay in their organizational culture that protected out-spoken officers, like Guderian, and encouraged self-criticism.
    Currently, there are many media reports about an impending transformation of the Indian military. However senior officers must realize that the fundamental transformation begins when we think differently. Hence, if General VK Singh really wants to transform the army he must lay the foundations for such an intellectual transformation. This can happen only when he along with other senior officers identify this as a priority. Discussing all these issues at the next Combined Commanders Conference, to be held later in the year, might then be the best place to start.

    Indian Army needs an intellectual transformation : The Big Story News - India Today
     
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  3. SPIEZ

    SPIEZ Senior Member Senior Member

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    ALby, highlight the important part !
     
  4. ALBY

    ALBY Elite Member Elite Member

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    need of more think tanks t look and care for the future of our forces
     
  5. Naren1987

    Naren1987 Regular Member

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    I never though that rag India Today would publish such a brilliant article.
    This very 19th century mindset of not pointing out what's wrong with your unit is the very reason why the best young men don't stay in the Army after a few painful years.
    This culture is why we lose Captains out to the private sector.
     
  6. SPIEZ

    SPIEZ Senior Member Senior Member

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    I seriously didn't know there was life for army men outside!
    Some become teachers in the later stages, some do MBA's in heir early stages. But these are rare cases, never knew there were so much demand for X -military
     
  7. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    That is what precisely the problem is - without making an effort only give in the points.
    Tell me the points !

    In military culture, that is called "Dassin Yaar", "teppo" and "cheppo" - a typical habit nurtured by Sainik / Military schools and NDA. All three services are infested by it. There is no culture of intellectualism nurtured in Sainik / Military Schools which have become the feeder to NDA. Slowly the intake from good Schools, KVs, Public schools etc has become scares for many reasons. I am afraid that is not good for the health of the three services.

    Unfortunately, the intake from colleges is being treated as supporting or secondary cadre like Short Service officers. Even if they remain, they are not allowed to rise and even if one rises, the age factor does not allow majority to be of any consequences.

    The fundamental point is the culture one is brought up in younger age especially in schools and colleges. All will agree that intellectualism or academic excellence is not their specialty. It is the fault of the system which thinks and lays down what makes someone a good service officer. The example is RIMC which lays down emphasis on academics and their officers are better aware and generally remain so due to early habits.

    Another example is SF units where in spite of physical toughness as a requirement, reading and analyzing is equally stressed upon resulting in their average officers being better aware. Deliberate efforts in one direction do produce results as is evident from the quality of officers of Mechanized forces who are good at verbosity.

    I am afraid; the intellectual quality of officer cadre will go down and down unless steps are taken to improve educational and training institutions of the forces and those being a bit open to good civil cultural ethos.

    We will have to do away with "Dassin Yaar" system.... the syndicate solutions at the informal and basic levels should be discouraged and so should the useless verbosity as sign of intellectualism.
     
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  8. SPIEZ

    SPIEZ Senior Member Senior Member

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    I m mot any arm of the defense sector.

    I asked for the points because of the unavailability of time! Also reports like this crop up from time to time, sometimes countering what the earlier report had to say!

    How come you seem to know so much about India being in Fiji?
     
  9. ace009

    ace009 Freakin' Fighter fan Elite Member

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    That is such a huge point - in the USA I see US military personnel (from all four branches - Army, Navy, AF and Marines) regularly going to schools and colleges - (civilian colleges, with special departments or even regular departments). Military history, military strategy, military and civilian technology and languages are their top choices. And not only the officers, even NCOs and privates get to attend school if they qualify.

    According to some estimates (from individual personnel I have talked to) more than half of the officers and almost one third of the NCOs have got some military related college courses/ degrees in the USA. In Europe, Japan and S Korea the picture is very similar.

    As for India, I doubt there are ANY civilian colleges or Universities that even have a military history or Military strategy department.
     
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  10. ALBY

    ALBY Elite Member Elite Member

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    In india too there are institutes offering courses in defence strategies and security matters.but only a few.The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS),New delhi,Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA),New delhi are the two prominent institutions offering the courses related to defence .But mostly the students there are top officials from IFS,IPS,Military and police but there are few middle level officers .This situation needs to be changed.
     
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  11. ace009

    ace009 Freakin' Fighter fan Elite Member

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    I see - but in the USA I am talking about regular Universities - about 200 of them who offer such courses - virtually every major city/ military base has a neighboring University that offers a course in Military doctrine, Military Strategy or Military history being taught by professional historians, military strategists and defense analysts. And the students are MOSTLY military personnel - not some nerdy civilian.
     
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  12. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    The US military will pay for the education of its members, and that is a good thing. There is an aspect of that I have long questioned. Recruiters will emphasize the educational benefits above everything else, to the point where some recruits forget the primary defense mission, and the fact they are liable to be deployed.
     
  13. ace009

    ace009 Freakin' Fighter fan Elite Member

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    Ahhh - the carrot! It works in the USA - brings in recruits who otehrwise cannot pay for their college education - which is wildly expensive.

    It will never work in India - most education is free, some more is "cheap" and only a handful places are expensive.

    In India the recruiters need different carrots, like high quality free healthcare (compared to the civilian sector), free booze on holidays :)D) and opportunity to see other countries (Pakistan and China) ...
     
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  14. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    A large number of female Reservists in the first Gulf war took the carrot and ended up pregnant to avoid duty. Probably a bad way to say that...
     
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  15. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    We have failed to produce another Sundarji and it is telling. Someone well placed told me army higher up is nothing better than beaureucracy.
     
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  16. Adux

    Adux Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yusuf,

    Is it the Army fault, they are being deliberately being kept away from national strategy and is denied their rightful place. Adm.Mehta , Sam Manekshaw, Sunderji and Cariappa etc were complete mavericks, they would push and fight, for their legitimate say. Now they are the exception, not the rule. Should we make it so hard for the them? It is the fault of the Indian people, bureaucracy and politicians who deny them their rightful space. Military men cannot do the usual tamasha

    At the same time , wether to is the fault of their own or of others I mentioned before, or a combination of both. The Indian Army especially and the Air Force to has become quite bastion for babudom and doesnt seem nimble footed enough. There is much we can learn from the Americans.

    I have great expectations from Browne. He seems to be fire breather.
     
  17. ace009

    ace009 Freakin' Fighter fan Elite Member

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    In a way it is the Armys policies which determine ho will lead and not. In India most "advancements" are done on seniority basis, or on "kiss-ass" basis. Merit is rarely if ever rewarded.
    IMHO, Indians suffer from too much conformity and "respect" for traditions and "seniors" - innovation and true brilliance seem anathema to any Indian system. The military is just a reflection of this systemic problem.
    Till Indians change their attitude from "respectful" traditionalsists to fire-in-the belly entrepreneurs, nothing will change.
     
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  18. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Nobody can stop someone from thinking. No one stopped Sundarji. He faced the same system. Army top brass can put their energy in thinking like Sundarji and pen it down and out it out in the open. We have seen recently service chief make noises in the media. But then they better use it to lay down what they think and want rather than crib. We need mavericks. They make great generals just like Paton. We had our share of such men but all if them are resting in peace now.
     
  19. Adux

    Adux Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yusuf,

    I dont think you got my point. No General should have ever the need to fight the system in the first place, especially for mundane things. The system has to be changed, if you want the Army to perform better and more effectively, The control of that change doesnt lie with the Army. Sunderji etc were successful, simply because they knew how to fight the system, brazenly. Not every General can do that.
     
  20. Adux

    Adux Senior Member Senior Member

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    I agree with this completely
     
  21. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    It's the Army's job to fight enemies of th state. Internal, external and also those who are policy makers and not doing their jobs in providing security to the nation.I am yet to see any armed forces not at loggerheads with the "system" including the US in its own ways.
     

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