It can be achieved if the national leadership and military education system have access to full-time domain specialists.
Indian Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur(retd.) has opined that the members of both academics and professionals , rolled into one i.e. the domain experts, should be there to train the armed forces and others.He starts his views with a saying of Chinese general, Sun Tzu, military strategist, writer, and philosopher, that, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles… if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Considering the recent events in military circles, certain facets of Professional Military Education (PME) in the Indian armed forces needs evaluation..
A structured process
Knowing the adversary and yourself is a three-step process. First, gathering information (the adversary’s and your own), its distillation into knowledge and finally recommending options to decision-makers; the third step is critical for national leadership.
Pragmatic leadership seeks advice from knowledgeable people. Thus, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and NITI Aayog advise the Government and offer options on key issues. Each body must have domain specialists from important fields and when one considers the NSCS and the NSAB, the three arms of the armed forces should be represented at the senior advisory level.
Mr. Manmohan Bahadur ji did two specialist courses from France under specialized professionals illustrating how theorists and practitioners from different fields can be dovetailed to holistically train junior professionals who later hold appointments at the operational and strategic realm. The United States Air Force has its air university with a faculty of civilian academics who, having dedicated their lives studying just one particular field, are the last word in their area of expertise. Their teachings are co-related with real life experiences by uniformed service instructors.
The situation in India
It would be safe to say that in our PME institutions most, if not all, instructors are service officers posted-in from field/staff appointments who do their two/three-year tenure and move on; there is no time to become an ‘expert’. Having guest lectures is no substitute to having subject matter experts on staff doing full-time teaching. The Naval War College in Goa invites an eminent academic from abroad to run capsules on operational art. The college also has an adjunct faculty of tri-Service retired officers acting as mentors in specialised areas of learning. It is also heartening to see the National Defence College at Delhi set-up a President’s Chair of Excellence tenanted by a retired scholar warrior; and, this is how it should be elsewhere too.
STATUS OF Indian Defence University-
Mr. Manmohan Bahadur suggests that there should be permanent chairs for subject matter experts teaching military history, strategy, geo-politics; that the service officers should be the links to field realities. He suggests to include the experts and domain specialists.He further adds that INDU — Indian National Defence University is languishing after its foundation stone was laid in 2013 near Gurgaon. In times when road infrastructure and the setting up of additional Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, etc. are being fast-tracked, the silence on the IDU, which would be the capstone institution to guide PME architecture in India, is unfathomable. The academic presence and military professionals from all three services can be included in NSAB and NSCS,As per Mr. Manmohan Bahadur Ji.