Trigger To The Article:
Another relevant piece on DSSC was written by the author which was published by MVI on 30 November 2021. Same can be read on link:
There is a new article floating around on the US appreciation of DSSC. The stark truth perhaps. We need to take it positively and ensure that we introspect and change where necessary. Towards that I have certain observations having served there, as senior instructor. You might crib about the syllabus, but you can’t beat the environment, the DSSC ensures that there is learning in whatever way it can.
The biggest problem in staff college is lack of an idea. We are so stuck with past precedence’s and failed logic, that we don’t see the need for change. There have been commandants who have come and wanted to change the syllabus. Made it more pragmatic and contemporary, but the issues that remained elusive are far too many.
The main inhibiting factor is the directing staff. At staff college we have two three types of colonel instructors.
The newly posted from command, their overall knowledge and exposure is too perfunctory and without depth. They are okay at tactical levels and have good articulation skills. I won’t deny that some of them can think critically, analytically and apply knowledge towards the paradigm being sort, but they lack exposure and haven’t been in a situation where they could discuss a subject thread bare and thoroughly. But a large group of them stuck to the training material given by the training team. Therefore not generating adequate interest or attention. Sleepy classrooms and disinterested middle rung was the end result.
The second are the colonels after HC/HDMC. These are the guys who have had a staff exposure, done the course and have a wider knowledge base. They also due to having aged after command are more mature and tolerant towards contrarian ideas. They can carry forward a discussion and arrive at logic. They learn and they imbibe. The problem is that they are caught between the rookies and the third category. The work load ends up being too strenuous and yet they deliver. The issue is they are too busy preparing for the content that is part of the training syllabus to even think of bringing in or generating new ideas or material which is not part of the curriculum.
The third category are those that have finished being the directing staff for a course. The guys who think they know everything. They have learnt, but they don’t want to change. The problem is they are the ones that run the staff college. Every commandant in his enthusiasm tries to take inputs from this largest body of officers. Trust me the variance in views often kills the idea of change itself What to add, what to delete, what to retain. Most of the times you witness things being added and nothing deleted. Tactics and operational construct taught in Junior Command course and during preparation for staff college is repeated. That’s only because that’s the comfort zone of most of these colonels. We had a commandant who wanted to change two major exercises and make them inclusive of modern technology, tune in to the geo strategic environmental scan and give more time for research activity. Did he succeed? He thinks he did, but sadly it was all the same old clothes in a new shopping bag. Senior directing staff who catch the eye of the Chief Instructor and the head of training team, churn out the change. Here too there are varied thought processes. These guys are good, but the capability to foresee the need, identify the requirement and thereafter ensure implementation needs time. The training team has no time. They are all either in the promotion zone, or under posting, cause most of them are placed in the final year of their tenure there, or on an extension. This is the major perpetrator of the problem, leading to superficiality in changes.
Everyone wants to maintain a high standard in staff college. Everyone tries very hard to make an impression. After all you are nurturing young hearts and minds. The directing staff as per the MS branch is what we had graded when they were doing the course with an INSTRUCTOR grading. But trust me and pardon me for being blunt, these guys are not enough. We want officers from the environment who are specialists in a subject to lead the manifestation of the subject and ensure it’s in sync with the fast paced environment today. We need civilian specialists who can research, educate and debate a topic of interest on the posted strength as permanent staff in staff college, can be contractual to ensure that they don’t take their privileges for granted. We need to also look at officers who are capable and experienced enough to impart and mentor, even if he isn’t an (I) in his course. We need a certain amount of permanence.
We can keep wanting change, but change has to be top driven without emotion. Come with an agenda, earmark the need and then go after it without ambiguity.
What DSSC needs is a faculty of studies, posted as faculty, to research, analyse, debate, create content, delete the unnecessary and be realistic. The faculty of studies will not be involved in mentoring and training, their sole responsibility is only of generating modern and useful contemporary training content. Until we do this we can keep blaming the training team.
The author is a military analyst & commentator on national security issues
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)