The war worthiness of Russian planes being used in the conflict in Ukraine is indeed noteworthy. The Russians have somehow managed to toughen their equipment to bear the brunt of war. The pilots have the faith enabling them to land even when the chances of the equipment holding on looks bleak. We need to look inwards and draw parallels, however certain questions emerge.
Would an Indian pilot have ejected? What are the rules for ejection. Is it true that our AF has the largest number of air fatalities in the world?
Why I ask these questions is because, at DSSC we are seeking the change. There is an increased effort to understand training and staff requirements. The Ukrainian conflict has further enunciated the paradigm shift towards information warfare and the application of military means in the grey zone.
In staff college we need to understand the problems of a fighter pilot, a submarine pilot, an aviator, a naval sailor, a tank soldier, a gunner, an engineer, a signal man, the support systems and most of all the infantry man who is the most vulnerable and somehow most neglected in war.
We have exercises still being played that delve in huge arrows on the map, with audacious plans, surprisingly adequately supported by brilliant staff checks. But the war in Russia and Ukraine has shown, all this planning is elementary, the adage, that no plan survives contact, stands good. While operational art and strategy is required for orchestration of operations, it’s the men with those machines and the boots on ground that finally matter. If they deliver in space and time adequately, you would have progressed towards an aim. While victory is perceptual, atleast invest in temporary successes.
Will ancient war strategies with superficial changes actually prevail? The Indian army is working hard to change, incorporation of niche technology, battle groups etc are the way forward without a doubt, but we need to sow the seeds of thinking here. I often ask the college when I conduct central lectures. How many of them have actually gone through a battle innoculation after IMA. You will be surprised sir, not a healthy percentage. This by the way is the officer cadre and that too the fighting middle rung. How do you expect the jawans with limited exposure to conventional forms of warfare, to psychologically get over the paralysis of PGMs, accurate fire and smart weapons enabled by AI.
We in some places are still fighting yesterdays war, our training standards are okay till the company level only. At the batallion level we need to manifest reality in any way we can. We need to be resolute to seek success in tactical applications. Two drones won’t make a difference, force multipliers are a factor of coordination towards an desired end state and not for innovation competitions only. The CO is vital therefore to training. But train towards what ends? Fighting through transparency, ISR that would make the night almost day. Voids in information, intelligence and orders. It’s going to be brutal out there. Interdiction, degradation, sabotage are realities. We still keep talking about huge operations in depth. We need to revisit and gauge the enemy and his arsenal adequately, with our own resilience to even go into that domain. Too many issues with warfare at the conceptual stages.
Confidentiality and past experiences prevent me from discussing the loop holes in our battle prognosis. Therefore for me to convey to the student officer that he needs to be the tactical enabler is very vital.
Least interference at every stage with clear directions and validation is critical. Understanding tactical operational roles and therefore training as specialists towards that role and not being a jack of all trades is a necessity. We seriously need to rethink our organisation charts, they need to be linked with battlefield realities, we need to role play, fit in where and when required to ensure mission success.
How many of our officers actually understand conventional war. Joint operations and integrated applications? We might be brilliant in those power point slides and cavalry type articulation. But that won’t win us the next war.
Reorganise, restrategise, relocate, relate to the enemy. Fight to win by deception, application and concentration of effort. We need to think beyond the enemy, we need strategic brilliance and continuity.
War avoidance by correct application of all factors of deterrence and dissuasion. But for that we need the means and the brains. Right people in the right frame. Anyway sir here at DSSC it’s always an effort to stay in sync with the contemporary. We are trying our best. The hierarchy also is brilliant in their understanding for the need to involve, evolve and are approaching methods brilliantly. It’s the young minds here that often surprise us with their understanding and analytical skill sets. We have to ensure they have the platform that can be raised on the foundations of free thinking, acceptance of contrarian views and clarity of vision. We need to believe in them, have the faith and seek ownership.
About the Author
The author is a military analyst and commentator on national security issues. Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Mission Victory India