18 November 2012

Military Modernisation in India : An Approach

August 4, 2012 by Team SAI


India’s security concerns are defined by a dynamic global security environment and the perception that the South Asian Region is of particular global security interest. The continuing presence of terrorist and fundamentalist forces in its neighbourhood has prompted India to maintain a high level of defence vigilance and preparedness to face any challenge to its security. Might in terms of conventional forces and their reach assumes importance as such forces are an ‘instrument’ through which nation states exercise national power, be it through coercive diplomacy, ‘outcome based demonstrations’ or a ‘viable force in being’. Undeniably military capability facilitates exercise of power on a wide canvass, in safeguarding interests of a nation state be they territorial, maintenance of internal cohesion, economic, cultural or ideological. 

Notwithstanding several years of planning, modernization of the Indian Army has usually been hyphenated by alternate spells of agitated activity followed by long intermissions of virtual procrastination. The defence plans have rarely been formally approved before their commencement. Knee jerk responses and haphazard planning, this had made India a reactive rather than proactive nation in matters defence with a large portion of budget for capital acquisitions being surrendered. 

The military should define its efforts to ensure that forces have the best equipment and necessary capabilities to guarantee their success in any mission or environment. The strategy designed must fulfil its overarching goals, priorities, and objectives. To maintain decisive advantage over any enemy and to meet the challenges of a new modernization construct, the Indian Army must develop and field a versatile and affordable mix of equipment to enable soldiers and units to succeed in full-spectrum operations today and tomorrow. 

Two key objectives of modernisation are:- 

• Reinforcing the capabilities of military to prevail in today’s wars, while building capacities needed to deal with future threats. 

• Reforming institutions and processes to deliver the ‘goods’ to the war fighter in the time he needs them. 

Any contemplated Modernisation Strategy needs to support these objectives. Our modernization plans need to ensure that they address pressing capability gaps; that they have applicability in both today’s and tomorrow’s wars, so that they present affordable and feasible solutions based on sound cost benefit analysis. In the present era of strategic uncertainty, the changing nature of warfare demands a judicious mix of threat and capability based forces to operate as combined arms and services components. 

We must define the structure of a ‘capability based force’ for meeting National Security Objectives of the 2020s and also to achieve the desired levels of deterrence against China and Pakistan. We must also evolve theatre centric war fighting strategies, both services specific and joint. Modernisation Strategy must therefore be conscious of these. All modernisation efforts must be directed to achieve these capabilities in the stated time periods. 

Transformation vs Modernisation. A clear understanding of the distinction between Transformation and Modernisation is necessary. Transformation has close linkages to Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), the extreme shifts in the security paradigm, threat manifestations, and the reviewed capability aspirations. Changes in concepts and doctrines will necessitate transformational endeavours both in force and equipment capabilities. Modernisation is an on-going and enduring enterprise to keep the forces suitably equipped to fight and win todays and future wars in the prevalent concept of war fighting. Modernisation is therefore, in essence, an incremental endeavour to upgrade weapons, equipment and systems in a prioritised manner-duly conscious of the current and future war fighting capability needs of the Army and dependent on budgetary support and the availability of relevant technology. 

Factors Affecting Military Modernisation 

Winning In Present and Future Conflicts. A clear understanding of what would constitute winning, or what would indicate achievement of National Military Strategic Objectives, is a necessary precursor to any modernisation endeavour. These end states, some quantifiable and some abstract, would be achieved through the synergised application of combat power of the three services and also other elements of National Power. Therefore to meet our end of the commitment, the Army must develop capabilities and capacities in key strategic domains, entailing new inductions, raisings and various modernisation upgrades. 

Threat Manifestation. Besides various internal security issues, the visualised external threat manifestation in the time continuum from the short term through mid, to the long term, for which the Army has to be prepared, are as under: - 

• Short Term. War with Pakistan as a direct consequence of the on-going proxy war is a high probability. This would be fought against a nuclear backdrop. Possibility of collusive support by China will have to be factored in. There is a very high possibility of border skirmishes with China. Internal Security deployments are likely to increase. 

• Mid to Long Term. In the mid to the long-term China would be the main threat. We may be forced to fight a ‘two front war’. Peace-making commitments in the Region are likely to increase. There would also be increased security commitments in the Region for the IA for protection of its vital resource and other interests. 

Concepts and Doctrines. From the evolved war fighting strategies must emerge concepts and doctrines to wage and win the nations wars. This must be an ongoing endeavour, keeping the constantly evolving battlefield milieu and the emerging and available technologies, in mind. The key drivers for this are the experiences of the field armies and the lessons and ‘best practices’, gleaned from contemporary wars and conflicts, worldwide. This is the quintessence of a professional army. Clearly articulated concepts and doctrines, in synchrony with our war fighting strategies would give the necessary focus to our modernisation endeavours. Military doctrine which is the driver of military modernization and transformation for countering the myriad threats growing around the South Asian Region requires the military to meet under mentioned responsibilities which includes: - 

• Defending the homeland against hybrid nature of threats. 

• To deter and defeat near to middle term threats generated by Pakistan and China. 

• Maintaining long-term combat effectiveness for securing national interest and core values. 

Changes if any to the present basic war fighting concepts need to be ascertained from the Field Armies – (not to be confused with Doctrine and theatre Strategies). We must question whether current concepts are adequate for fighting and winning today’s and future wars since it has great relevance and bearing to prioritised weapons and equipment acquisitions and upgrades. 

Impact of the National Military Strategy on Modernisation of the Army. Capabilities developed through due processes of modernisation must be synchronous with meeting the ends of our National Security Objectives, and therefore must be closely linked to a National Military Strategy .The broad constructs of a National Military Strategy that have a bearing on the Army modernisation are: - 

• Evolve from Threat based forces to Threat cum Capability based forces to achieve national security objectives. 

• Develop capabilities to win against all present and future adversaries across the full spectrum of warfare, if wars are forced upon us. 

• Achieve appropriate levels of deterrence that would lead to prevention of war including proxy wars, through strong conventional and nuclear forces. 

• Ensure sanctity of the borders. 

• Effectively deal with proxy wars and enhance our capabilities to fight Counter Insurgency (CI)/Counter Terrorist (CT) Operations. 

• Develop capabilities to fight and win ‘Short Wars’. 

• Create capability to fight and win a two front war, if forced upon by Pakistan and China. 

• Enhance capability to rapidly switch forces from East to West and vice versa. 

• Achieve Network Centric Warfare capability and technological edge over adversaries. 

• Maintain an effective nuclear deterrence and create a viable nuclear triad. 

• Increase our capability to ‘Fight Dirty’ in a nuclear environment. 

• Develop an out of area capability. 

• Improve and enhance our Peace Keeping Capability. 

• Create Post Conflict Management Capacities and Capability. 

• Create capabilities to conduct joint operations by the Army, Navy and Air Force across full spectrum of warfare. 

• Create desired degree of influence in the Indian Ocean Region. 

• Develop strong maritime capability to ensure security of Island territories. 

• Develop and create suitable air and space based capability to ensure air dominance over sovereign territory including island territories. 

• Build adequate capacities for contingencies in Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) and Internal Security functions. 

• Create synergies with other organs of state. 

• Ensure reasonable share of the GDP for defence (3%) to ensure that the required impetus to modernisation is provided. 

Inadequacies in the Present Approach to Modernisation 

• Whilst the needs of modernisation is acknowledged and understood, there seems to be no overarching and unambiguous policy paper on the same, based on strong fundamentals (a National Military Strategy). 

• There is inadequate articulation of the generation of capability required in the various strategic domains. Some element of desired capability is factored in, but the process however, is handicapped due to the non-availability of a comprehensive outlook regarding capabilities in diverse strategic domains. 

• Modernisation endeavours predominantly driven by acquisition of affordable state-of-the-art weapons, equipment and military technology. 

• Dependent to a great deal on threat perceptions –albeitwith insufficient Net Assessment of likely future scenarios & capabilities of present & potential adversaries. 

• Desire for max indigenisation exerts considerable influence on all modernisation processes. There is a lack of a pragmatic balance between the compulsions of indigenisation and the dire modernisation needs to meet the desired capability of the military. This is all the more compounded by our inadequate indigenous capability for military hardware in the Country. 

• A distinct lack of accountability exists, especially in meeting deadlines of modernisation. 

• There is low decision making resolve at different levels due to various factors. 

• At times modernisation becomes a process of reverse engineering –doctrines and force employment philosophies are modified to suit weapons and equipment procured. 

• Modernisation initiatives are greatly influenced by perceptions of likely budget allocations – “cut the coat according to the cloth available”. Customary Budget allocation fixation severely retards modernisation aspirations and plans. 

• We have in place a tedious, and in some cases repetitive acquisition and procurement processes. 

• In the absence of an over arching philosophy for equipment procurement, on-going efforts at modernisation of the military are not synchronised amongst various stake holders (user, DRDO, OFB, DPSU, Pvt Sect etc). 

Contours of a Recommended Modernisation Strategy 

Modernisation Fundamentals 

The IA envisions, ‘being a highly motivated, optimally equipped and modernised, operationally ready force, capable of functioning in a synergised joint service environment, across the spectrum of conflict’. In sync with this Vision, the IAhas made elaborate modernisation plans for developing war prevention and full spectrum capabilities. Our primary objective for such an upgrade must be to stay competitive and technologically reliable while remaining cost efficient. 

A concept led, capability based, modernization, which is threat related and resource conscious is only feasible if we can identify capabilities needed to accomplish operational and tactical requirements of our field force. Like any military, India too, faces difficult choices in establishing its budget priorities for modernizing the armed forces to meet both near-term and future threats. With a growing inventory of weapons and equipment nearing obsolescence and the urgent need to upgrade or replace them, the present allocation of defence budget, which is pegged at less than 2% of India’s GDP, is grossly inadequate to support genuine modernisation needs. 

Another modernisation dilemma that the military faces is that it can carry out substantive modernisation only by simultaneously undertaking large-scale downsizing, due to budget constraints. However, it cannot afford to radically downsize as its operational commitments on border management and internal security duties require a large number of manpower-heavy infantry battalions. 

Capabilities take several decades to create. Therefore their identification, prioritisation and developmental road map need careful calibration so that it is available in the visualised operational time frame. 

Strategic Guidance and Actions at Macro Level 

All modernisation endeavours must meet the ends of the Vision Statement of the armed forces. The military modernisation must respond to a technologically and strategically challenging security environment and must secure for us a competitive advantage over our potential adversaries. The AMS must also be symbiotic with the Transformational Goals of the IA. The AMS should define our efforts to ensure that soldiers have the best equipment and necessary capabilities to guarantee their success in any mission or environment today and tomorrow. 

We must develop and field a versatile and affordable mix of weapons and equipment. Balanced development of all arms and services must be undertaken to ensure combat effectiveness of the field formations. Each theatre has its own operational dynamics, which need to be addressed in detail to achieve distinct advantage; therefore the planners must develop theatre specific capability within the ambit of modernisation. 

The Modernisation strategy must also be dynamically responsive to the demands of the Field forces in helping them to win wars today and tomorrow. We must strengthen and simplify processes involved with Fast Track Procurement (FTP). 

The military must emphasise with the government the critical need of service predominant modernisation first, with focus on war fighting, and developing joint capabilities later. The modernisation strategy must focus on resources first in making up existing voids and hollowness in the service, and thereafter in eliminating capability voids in the desired levels of deterrence against our adversaries. 

We must also refine and streamline our acquisition processes so as to shorten the periods from identification of the need to its actual fruition in the Field Army. We must consider the full life cycle costs of all systems being contemplated for new induction. We must also make informed decisions on modernisation upgrades, refits and disposal in keeping with our 30:40:30 principle (state of the art: contemporary: legacy) of equipment holding. 

We must have a long-term vision of merging a modernized Army into a Transformed Joint Force by balancing and accommodating of requirements for the sake of jointness. However, this will not be at the expense of mid to long term requirements. 

The military must create an apex body to monitor and facilitate modernisation. 

We must energise and empower the Army Technology Board to include and execute modernisation through influx of new/cutting edge technologies. 

Modification committee at Army HQ level must be strengthened to allow proliferation of equipment modified by field forces and found operationally suitable. 

Equipment portfolios will need periodic capability reviews to assess operational relevance and cost effectiveness. There must be a clearly formulated portfolio strategy of all weapons and equipment modernisation based on priorities and budgetary support. Protocol issues need to be addressed by ensuring systems approach to induction of equipment, rather than stand alone development and proliferation thereby leading to incompatibility issues. 

The Modernisation Strategy 

The modernisation strategy must be centred around the following:- 

• Ends. The objective of modernisation strategy is to ensure that the military has a modern and affordable mix of the best weapons and equipment available that will allow it to fight and win today’s and tomorrow’s wars across the spectrum of conflict. 

• Ways. The above Ends would be accomplished by the following Ways: - 

• Modernisation Through Acquisition of New Equipment. The existing voids and hollowness in the field armies need to be met through large-scale upgrades and considerable infusion of new equipment to ensure that the military is capable of fighting and winning today’s wars. Modernisation through acquisition of new equipment also entails development and acquiring new equipment or improving, upgrading or adapting existing equipment to give capability to fight and win future wars too. This entails:- 

• Modernising the current generation of weapons. 

• Investing in next generation technologies. 

• Revolutionary technologies or the generation after next weapons. 

• Fielding of new capabilities by exploiting and developing spinoffs of new technology or backcasting. 

• Sustaining Existing Equipment. Close capability gaps by extending the useful life of existing equipment by life extensions, upgrades and overhaul since replacement of all equipment is neither feasible nor desirable. However, we must not lose focus of the equipment in service: - 

• Modernising equipment to meet current and future capability needs through procurement of upgraded capabilities and recapitalisation. 

• Product improvement through indigenous research and development(R&D). 

• Leverage innovative designs and capability demonstrators emerging from the field armies and formalise the fast track production and induction of operationally viable projects. 

• Capitalize on the Army Science and Technology Board to convert ideas into capabilities. 

• Mitigating Shortcomings. Due to critical capability and security considerations, certain equipment needs to be procured on an emergent basis. Outright purchase of overdue equipment gestating with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) or other indigenous manufacturers. These are basically to make up critical shortcomings in capabilities and cannot wait for the procurement and sustainment time lines discussed above. These will have to follow ‘fast track’ acquisition processes if not already in the pipeline for delivery within 12 to 24 months. In general terms, the equipment proposed should more or less be in the approved Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP), with some balances and variations. 

• Fielding Equipment. Provide the appropriate quantity and type of equipment at the proper time, in accordance with the military operational priorities. 

• Disposal of Equipment. The concept of disposal needs to be included in the planning process to fix timelines for discard of obsolete equipment/technology and also to plough back max revenue into acquisition through disposal. 

• Means. Adequate fiscal support (budget allocation), a streamlined acquisition process, unambiguous capability articulation, revamped R&D and indigenisation strategies, a strong local industrial base and focused leadership are the Means to ensure that the military’s modernisation efforts bear fruition. Last but not the least is the need for full government support and strategic direction. This can only come about through strategic communication, a skill that needs to be urgently refined by the military. 

To be effective and timely, all modernisation endeavours need to be supported by efficient and responsive supportive measures, especially in the planning and acquisition of equipment. Considerable streamlining and fine tuning of the planning and acquisition process is required at every level. 


Equipping the military with capable and modern equipment to win today’s wars while setting the conditions for continuing success in future full spectrum operations entails trade-offs and risks, involving multiple competing objectives that must be balanced against constrained resources and uncertainty. 

Capabilities take several decades to create. Therefore their identification, prioritisation and developmental road map need careful caliberation so that it is available in the visualised operational time frame. 

The strategic imperative to sustain, prepare and transform for the future are the strategic ways, ends and means to build a balanced military for the 21st Century – an affordable versatile mix of tailor-able and networked organisations operating for current commitments and to hedge against unexpected contingencies at a tempo that is predictable and sustainable. 

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Reigniting Kashmir

Reigniting Kashmir 
17 November 2012

An overview of India's Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the Kashmir region. 

John Quinton, American writer once wrote, “Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.” It appears that this is exactly what is happening in Kashmir, at least on the Indian side. Some ‘overnight’ security strategists wake up one fine morning feeling they are best judges of matters military; better than the military itself. Last year, the Chief Minister of J&K suddenly decided Kashmir was the most serene place on earth declaring arbitrarily, without reference to stake holders, he would revoke AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), naming areas including known terrorist strongholds. A terrorist incident immediately thereafter even led a squeamish politician from the same party accusing the Army of engineering the attack. Interestingly, the CM’s statement came despite 195 terrorist incidents in J&K during 2011, spate of infiltration attempts, LeT training 21 female suicide bombers for attacking J&K, CM demanding 50 additional police battalions and the Centre allocating INR 499 crores to J&K for upgrading weaponry to fight terror. Luckily, status quo was maintained after much discussion including diluting AFSPA that could be highly disadvantageous to security forces fighting vicious insurgency and exposing troops to decades of litigation for legitimate acts. Presently, the CM is again gunning for revoking AFSPA despite continuous unprovoked firing by Pakistan, the State admitting 3084 youth of J&K are undergoing arms training in 42 terrorist camps across border, 2500 terrorists in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir awaiting chance of infiltration, focused killing of Panchayat (village level elected body) members by Pakistani terrorists, over 100 Panchayat members resigning and Centre rushing 7000 additional Central Reserve Police Force personnel to J&K to control the deteriorating security situation. Can there be a worse example of short sightedness for narrow political gains? 

Last year when the Army Chief remarked that J&K administration had not capitalized on low levels of violence maintained by security forces, the present CM’s father went ballistic; himself an erstwhile CM of J&K who came to power following massive rigging of elections in 1987 sowing seeds of insurgency in the State. Army is sent in when the State administration fails. AFSPA in J&K came into effect through an Act of Parliament on 10 September, 1990 when its requirement was felt by Parliamentarians to provide administrative and legal mechanism for Armed Forces in counter-insurgency. AFSPA is not a tool for the Armed Forces to run riot. Politically motivated human rights groups may portray AFSPA as ‘draconian’ and ‘human rights abuse’ but the record of Indian Armed Forces compared to counter-insurgency operations by US/NATO/ Sri Lankan Army has been exceptional; minimal collateral damage and without using heavy weapons, air and artillery. Indian National Human Rights Commission statistics prove only 4-5 percent of human rights abuse allegations proved true and armed forces ensure exemplary punishments in case of culpability. Armed Forces don’t want prolonged deployment in counter insurgency but the State administration has to do their part through good governance, which is sadly lacking. The CM continuously rejects implementation of 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Indian Constitution that empowers Panchayats. Delhi Policy Group (Delhi based Think Tank) held a comprehensive round table on J&K with politicians of every hue of J&K whose unanimous antipathy was that the State Government is ensuring Panchayats remain without powers. How then can governance improve at the grassroots? 

The opposition in J&K has clear links with Hijbul Mujahideen. Insurgencies and criminalization of politics having become a currency for retaining power; a phenomenon not new in India: take the hate speeches in Assam during Emergency era that created ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam); Illegal Migrants - Determination by Tribunals Act of 1984 for Assam that regularized illegal Bangladeshi immigrants (many possibly trained in terrorist camps) drastically altering demography till the Act was struck down in 2005 by Supreme Court as “unconstitutional”; training and arming Bodos; creation of Bhindranwale and what have you. Nagaland was ideal setting with all Naga insurgents based in adjoining state of Manipur and could be summoned underhand to keep up violence. India used an entire Division to decimate the Maoist movement at Naxalbari few years back, yet the movement has been allowed to grow exponentially, largely through mis-governance. Political power apart, insurgency is good for finances as well. The Centre doles out enormous funds, accountability is not sought and no one is wiser. 

Presently, Indian Home Minister has talked of “credible intelligence reports of Pakistan trying to stir up trouble in India by helping terrorist infiltration”, but what the stance of the Centre will be next year with elections approaching is anybody’s guess especially if Pakistan ensures a prolonged tactical pause. For political gains, the Centre may go to any length as demonstrated by the underhand Track II agreement to demilitarize Siachen without debate in Parliament. The Indian Co-Chair confirmed in writing they are a “Private Body” but later reneged by saying they are “Private Individuals” who sought briefing from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Military. MEA briefing did not cover Siachen and no “Private Individual” asked any questions on Siachen. The Military categorically said they do not want demilitarization. So the two vital questions that are not being answered by the Indian Co-Chair and any of the “Private Individuals” of the Track II Team are: When there was no direction / discussion by / with MEA regarding Siachen and the Military categorically stated they do not want de-militarization, what was the motivation / compulsion of these “Private Individuals” to agree to demilitarize ignoring recommendation of every veteran and serving Army Chiefs including the present Chief (are these “Private Individuals” accusing all our Army Chiefs including General Bikram Singh of putting the lives of their soldiers at stake in Siachen for mere ego); and why would any organization pay millions to organize meetings in different parts of the world and with what aim Since MEA officials formally briefed the Track II Team and there were series of meetings with Pakistani counterpart after each of which there must have been feedback, it does not make it any less official. What the Co-Chair and his bunch of “Private Individuals” appear hiding but being openly talked in journalistic circles is that the before the Lahore meeting there was also a briefing by the NSA himself, which if true smacks of intrigue at highest levels. Incidentally, reneging from “Private Body” and labeling themselves “Private Individuals” is because for a “Private Individual”, ‘treason’ does not figure in the Indian Penal Code - amazing but true. Someone higher up has given them last minute legal advice; providing protection from law and more importantly from being forced to divulge disclosing covert political directions on the issue. 

Perhaps AFSPA could not be revoked in J&K right now because of stiff opposition by the Northern Army Commander, but he retires next year. A mischievous report titled ‘Kashmir Vs Northern Command’ in ‘Geopolitics’ of October 2012 talks of differing perception of Army Headquarters and Northern Command, indicating government’s dirty tricks department is in play again. When the Army Chief’s categorical view not to demilitarize Siachen has been ignored by the military heavy and government briefed Track II Team, AFSPA may well be revoked from J&K, especially since J&K Government supports the ruling coalition. Last time when militancy similarly went down in J&K during 1998, Pakistan made massive intrusions in Kargil forcing diversion of troops that facilitated infiltration. Revoking of AFSPA will re-ignite Kashmir Valley while withdrawal from Siachen will set Ladakh afire with terrorist bases mushrooming all over Ladakh and Zanskar Ranges. John Quinton must know we don’t need to buy tunnels here, we dig our own! 

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Why Lieutenants Should Study Strategy.

- Col Micheal D. Wyly 

That lieutenants ought to first learn the basics is an easily agreed upon tenet of educating an officer. But agreement begins to crumble apart immediately when we ask "What are the basics?" A look at what we have done in the past couple of centuries, however, would reveal that we have regarded the basics to dwell in the realm of tactics and not strategy. I disagree. I do not reject tactics as being as important part of the basics; but its strategy is not studied in parallel, tactics are meaningless-and perhaps as well not even studied. I can even go so far as to say tactics without strategy are dangerous. 

Wars, after all, are not won by the side that wins the most battles. They are won by the side that wins the right battles. The wrong battles, whether won or lost, occupy valuable units that might be better used elsewhere and waste good men. But before we get into why this is important to lieutenants, who generally will fight the battles they are told to fight, let us consider the educational process itself. 

Clausewitz obviously had something in mind when he wrote, " In war more than in any subject we must begin by looking at the nature of the whole; for here more than elsewhere the part and the whole must always be thought of together." The basics, Clausewitz is saying are understanding what battle is all about. Given that battle is about winning wars, the first step to understanding battle is understanding wars. So, how does the 21-year-old student, who has never been shot at, come to understand war? Of course, we must get him to the field. He must experience living out of the pack on his back. He must move units of men through rough terrain, control formations he is responsible for but cannot see, save for the few close around him. He must hear the sounds of the guns, move with live ammunition close overhead, call artillery and air-live, high explosive ordance-at "danger close." He must learn to endure hardship while cheering his men to keep morale up, even in cold, rain, and mud. But he could do all this and still know nothing of war. It might turn him into a great outdoorsman. He may become an expert on weapons, a splendid leader. He might even learn enough from the veterans around him about their war to refight it if it reoccurs-which it will not. 


But if he is to understand war, he must study war. This can be difficult in an age when we are surrounded by and bombarded with advice from self-proclaimed experts on war. Many have writ ten books. Some of these authors are combat veterans and some are not, but whether or not they have seen combat does not determine whether or not they are experts. 

So to learn about war, the student cannot find many experts. What he must do is study as many wars as he can. Guerrilla wars, limited wars, cold wars, hot wars, long wars, short wars, static wars, mobile wars- all should be studied in the way that a historian studies. That is trying to identify what actually happened and why. He must- read multiple sources on the same wars and than as in solving a resection problem in map reading, he must look for evidence to converge as the azimuths on a map and draw conclusions - 

I am often confronted by the question, "How can we teach our soldiers to fight when we do not know what kind of war the next one will be?" We do not know if it will be a counterinsurgency in the jungle, a mobile war in the desert, or urban war. I say it is exactly for this. Reason the lieutenants should be reading history as much if not more than field manuals. Field manuals are formulas. They are techniques that may serve in one kind of war but not in another. They add little to understanding, so to be educated about war, one needs to know What has happened in war. He must study the results of war and ask himself why the results were what they were. 


But should the lieutenant be studying battles or wars? Tactics or strategy? My answer it that he must first study strategy. He must study war as a whole. 

But let us consider the problem at a more basic level. Try studying battles only. Read only at the tactical level. What will you read? You sources will be extremely limited. There are a few books that dwell exclusively at the tactical level, but they are very few. Most good historical works cross the boundaries of tactics and strategy without warning again and again. If one decided to limit himself to study about battles alone, he would deprive himself of Bluinenson on Patton, Churchill on World War II, Mansfceii on the Eastern Front, Potter on Nimitz, James on Macftrthur, and Caesar on Gaul. He would exclude most of Clause witz, Mahan, Jornini, Liddell Hart, and a great deal of fuller, all essential in building the most fundamental foundation in the basics of warfare". 

And then there is the subject of the operational art. It is said that. there is a level of war between tactics and strategy. It is the operational art or the conduct of campaigns. While tactics govern the fighting of battles and strategy the fighting of Wars, the operational art governs the fighting of campaigns. The operational art. too, is part of the whole strategy. Patton once wrote that no general should ever involve himself in tactics. In his diary entry of 25 February 1944. he wrote: 

“I am sometimes appalled at. the density of human beings. I am also nauseated by the fact that Hodges and Bradley state that all human virtue depends on knowing infantry tactics. I know that no general officer and practically no colonel needs to know any tactics. The tactics belong to battalion commanders .If generals knew less tactics, they would interfere less”. 

We could hardly say that all generalship ought, to be at the strategic level, however. That is, divisional and corps commanders are usually not advising Presidents and PMs on how to effect national policy through military means. Sometimes, perhaps, but usually not. And I will even argue with Patton, that sometimes generals must implement battle tactics at the division level. But usually generalship is, indeed, somewhere in between the battles and the war-, and that area in between is the planning and conduct of campaigns. It is sometimes difficult to identify where strategy leaves off and operational art begins and then where the boundary lies that brings us down to tactics. There will be disagreement among scholars over where one leaves off and the other begins. And it is hardly possible to understand one level in isolation of the others. So, as Clausewitz said, one must study the whole. The best education for war is studying war, as it has actually taken place. 

Our contemporaries are correct that the operational art does have to be understood. As an integral part of strategy, however, it cannot be understood without a good grasp of strategy. The operational art is the bridge that gives battle tactics strategic aim. So, Lieutenants must. study strategy! 

Generals, after all. are former Lieutenants, but there must be more to being a general than old age. There must be more than experience. There must be a lifetime of study-that is, if the general is to consider himself a professional. That we can take a tactician, a battalion commander, for instance, and "add water" sending him to a defence war college and have - voila! - a general, is Q delusion. It takes a lifetime of study,. And a military lifetime begins at lieutenant. Lieutenants must study strategy. 

But even the lieutenants who will never be generals need to understand strategy if they are to fight their battles effectively. Any task is done better, more efficiently, if the one per forming the task knows why. If the lieutenant is not sure whether he is supposed to win his battle to increase the number of enemy 

retreat, to deny the enemy something, or to acquire something for friendlies to use, he cannot fight the battle as well. Do I destroy the airfield or keep it intact for our use? Do I dismount and become inextricably engaged? Or do I roll on by, leaving the enemy isolated as I place priority on speed? These questions can only be answered if the lieutenant know why. And if he knows why. he learns more, and when he is a captain or a major or a colonel and responsible for choosing his battles, where and when to fight, he will be better equipped to do so. And if he knows about.. war and its many, many forms, he will not be narrowed and restricted by doctrine, by lists of principle that are not really principles but checklists, or by field manuals written by experts on the last war. Having studied war as a whole, he is ready for the unknown. Ready for anything. 

- Col Micheal D. Wyly, MARINE CORPS GAZETTE, 10/1988.


Gen E M Flanagan, Jr. (retd) 

Briefings in the Army can run the gamut from crude but effective to elaborate and perhaps not so productive. For example, in the field, a sergeant may gather a section about him and use a stick to draw the situation on the ground and sketch with arrows and other basics symbols where he wants it deployed, where he thinks the enemy is and where the rest of the platoon is located. At the other end of the spectrum is the briefing given by a very clean-cut, properly uniformed, articulate officer in a room loaded with electronic devices that dim the lights, control the wall- size screen, turn on the film projector, switch to television break-ins, operate the slide projector and modify the volume of the speaker's voice. The normal Army briefer usually finds himself somewhere between these two extremes. 

A briefing can be short(.for example, showing where to stand when the commanding general arrives) or very long and elaborate when the subject matter is complicated, important and necessary. One general served notice on a briefer rather clearly. "Colonel," he said before the briefer had spoken his first word, "we're not leaving here today until I understand this stuff." Obviously, the higher up the ladder of the Army one progresses, the more complex the briefings may become. 

The best briefer are those who know their subjects, organise their material and present it logically, speak in clear, understandable English (not in the jargon, of adjutant general, comptroller, or those in finance, research and development or other special disciplines). Good briefer also adjusts, their briefings to the audience's knowledge of the subject and speak from an outline rather than read a briefing word-for-word in a monotonous, somnolent voice. 

Follow a Sequence 
A good briefing must follow a logical, orderly sequence, moving from one point to the next. 

The sequence for a briefing might, include the following; 

* Purpose. (Is it a decision or an information briefing?) 

* Precise statement of the problem or subject to is addressed. 

* General outline of the briefing. ("Here is what I am going to cover,") 

* Background. (Include only enough facts to bring your audience up to date.) 

* Pertinent facts bearing on the problem or the subject. 

* Problems that may not be obvious. 

* Courses of action and pros and cons of each. 

* Summary. 

* The briefing according to the outline. 

* Recommendation couched in terms that are clear, precise and require the boss (in a decision briefing) to say only "approved" or "disapproved". 

The briefer must tailor the briefing to the situation and the audience, whether it is one person or many. Who is the audience? How much do they know about the subject? Do they have preconceived ideas about briefings? (If the briefer does not know this at the beginning of the briefing, he will undoubtedly know by the end of it.) Can the audience see the charts clearly? Is this briefing purely to inform or does it require decision making by those who are briefed? 

Visual-aids ; Charts 

A good briefer uses understandable charts to assist in making his points. In many cases, a good briefer can give his entire briefing from his charts. 

The charts do not have- to be made by commercial artists; clarity and simplicity are far more important than artistic merit . 

Charts have two useful, purposes: they provide an outline of what the briefer is going to cover, and they focus the audience attention on the salient points of the briefing. If the chart is somewhat complex - a diagram of a piece of equipment, for example - the briefer should walk over to the chart and explain it... 

If. however, the chart .lists a number of salient points, the briefer should use the chart as his outline. 

Charts allow the' audience to view the subject matter'; therefore, the audience can visualise the idea or article being discussed . 

Consider for simplicity, for example, that a briefer has been tasked to describe an apple. 

He could talk ail day about the apple, but he would accomplish his task far more quickly and accurately if he simply brought an apple to the person being briefed, told him what it was, let him see it, smell it, taste it and feel it. The person who was brief would have a pretty fair idea what an apple is. 

Address the audience 

The briefer must address his audience, not the charts. Speaking from chart and an outline requires the briefer to be totally familiar with his subject matter and to know far more about the subject matter than the audience. If he does not know more about the subject, he should not be the briefer. 

Speaking from charts and an outline does, however, introduce the problem of time. If the briefer reads his briefings, he can time it exactly. When he speaks from an outline, however, he may use more time than allotted. The briefer must keep his eye on the clock and adjust accordingly. Rehearsing will certainly give the briefer a fairly accurate idea of the length of the briefing. 

The first chart is an outline of what the briefer is going to cover, the rest of the charts explain the matter; and the final chart sums tip the presentation. One observer described a good briefer as one who must be right, be brief and be gone. 

Briefing Seniors : Personnel Memoirs 

One of my first exposures to the perils of briefing senior officers occurred when I was a relatively young major on the staff of the 11th (US) Airborne division. I was responsible for a very hasty and pressure-move of the division by air from Lipa Luzon to Okinawa Japan to lead the occupation of Japan in the closing days of World War II. 

When we- arrived at Okinawa, the division commander called on the staff to tell him about the next leg of the move - from Okinawa to Atusgi, Japan. I had to give the presentation. I went to the commanding general's tent alone, full of the confidence of youth and the success of the move, so far. I thought that I would discuss rather than "brief" him. After about 30 seconds, he said to me: "Don't you have any charts? How in the hell am I supposed to understand what you're taking about..? Why can't I find a staff officer?" After that session, my learning curve as a briefer went up considerably. 

As the commanding general of the US Sixth Army, I gave all my own briefings to visiting senior officers, other VIPs and even foreign dignitaries. One of the more pleasant briefing was one I gave to Prince Charles of England. He came to my office where I briefed him, using charts of course, on the general picture of the Army worldwide. Even though the briefing was at 8 A.M on a Saturday, Prince Charles seemed to pay close attention. I suspect that he retained little of what I told him, but he had so trained himself that he gave every evidence of rapt attention. 

On another occasion at Sixth Army, I briefed a visiting Russian delegation headed by a major general. One usually thinks of Soviet generals as dour, scowling, humourless, steely-eyed, stolid -- or all of the above. This two-star proved to be an exception. After I completed my very unclassified briefing, I said to him through the interpreter: "General, I want to caution you that everything I have told you is classified secret." The Soviet general, not to be outdone, said: "And I want you to know, General, that what you have told me will remain a secret between your Army and mine." 

A commander at any level should give his own briefings to visiting VIPs and his commanders up the line and not rely on his staff officers to do it for him. The most effective briefing for one's superior is for the junior commander to invite the visiting superior to his office and brief him there using charts, slides or graphs. The junior commander thus puts himself, not a staff officer, on the line. If the junior commander is on top of his command, he has nothing to fear: if he does not know the answer to a detailed question, he should not bluff he should tell the boss that he will get the answer and forward it to him. 


No matter the level of the briefing, whether it is at battalion or the apex HQ, it is a very important means of conveying information to a busy boss. Preparing carefully, following an outline, using clear and pertinent charts, speaking to the audience, checking the clock-and above all, knowing the subject- should carry the briefer successfully through most briefings. There may be exceptions, however.. 

An irascible senior officer on a bad day may chew holes in what the briefer thought was a superb presentation, but that is all part of the learning experience. It makes the briefer realize , that especially at the higher levels of command, he needs a strong constitution, a tough hide and an inherent sense of humour, which should be expressed after a disastrous briefing only in private to one's peers. 

- General E M Flanagan, Jr.(retd) ARMY, 1/1989. 

Military Writing : A Question of Style

By (Lt Col GEP Mulhern, OBE) 

[The article was circulated to all British Sapper Officers during the late 1950’s by Chief Engineer Brig (Later Maj Gen IHF Boyd of Royal Engineers]. 

This paper tells how to write about military subjects. It is essential, particularly in peace-time, for officers to know how to wield the pen. The cunning use of the pen may get you into the Staff College; it may help you to write a report that wins the praise of you Commanding Officer; it may help you to convince the Paymaster that you are entitled to extra pay; or it may prosper your [Queen and] Country in more ways than can be numbered here. You will often have to use your pen, but if you cannot use it properly you are just a scribbler wasting time. 

Military writing is subject to rules. Here are some of them. 

First, you cannot write anything a letter, a minute, a memorandum or an essay- unless you have knowledge. Writing betrays a man's brain. If his brain is empty, no felicity with words will fill the void. You must therefore read up your subject an collect your thoughts before you begin. You may have to search letters in a file, or turn up books of reference; or you may have to rummage in the storehouse of your brain. This is where the real work lies. It is for this that editors pay good money, examiners give good reports. Each writer has his own method. For quick and tidy work it is a help to record, as notes, the trophies of your research. Get all the facts into one place. Then you can clear your desk of files and references and turn to the matter of writing. Writing is a mechanical business. It is an art to do it beautifully, but competence can be achieved by obeying rules. 

You must begin with a heading. This has two functions> It directs the reader's mind in the way you want, and it focuses your won own what is relevant. Write a heading in block capitals across the top of the paper. Do not just write "Question 6." in the Book of common prayer there are ten rules for the conduct of life. There could be no better heading than "The Ten Commandments". Let your heading be like this. It describes the nature of the work in the fewest possible words. Then write your first paragraph. "Tell the news in the first sentence" is a rule of journalism. It is a sound rule for all writing. Look at the Book of genesis. The first sentence runs thus : "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". Now you know what the first chapter is about. Read on and you will see how He did it. 

The remaining sentences of the first paragraph expand or explain the first. The shorter you can keep the first paragraph the better, for it does not directly contribute to the subject. It merely prepares the ground. It is an overhead charge, like levelling the site before you start to build. You cannot avoid it, so do it quickly. Then get to work on the main business. 

It is often convenient to link the first paragraph to the rest with a short paragraph of one or two lines. (I have done it in this paper as an example.) It is a trick, an old trick used by Homer in the Odyssey, but is also serves the military writer of to-day. Sentences that form this link are such as these: 

The facts are as follows : 
The history of this dispute is given below : 
The two sides to this question are : 

Having forged this link, you write down the facts, history or sides of the question. This may well be called the discussion. In writing the discussion, also, there are certain rules. You must stick to the point. Irrelevant facts. unwanted dates or side- issues must be ignored. Sometime, however , there are facts or arguments which are a theme in themselves. For the reader who knows this theme, it is boring repetition; for the reader who is fresh to the subject it is important information. Put facts like those into an appendix. The reader may read them or not as he chooses. (For example : I might expound this very theme at length in an appendix.) 

Homer's link was "This is the tale I pray the divine use to unfold to us . Begin it goddess, at whatever point you will". 

Record the facts in order of time. You may be tempted to record them geographically. You may think it easier to describe what Napoleon was doing before Waterloo, and then to say what Wellington was doing. This may be easy to write : it is seldom easy to follow. It is better to say what both were doing on the first day, then the second, and so on. This leads to a good climax as indeed the event did. 

Where there are two or more sides to question there are usually arguments for and against each side. There are then two ways of discussing them. You may first record all the various sides of the question. (You may perhaps tabulate them 'a', 'b', 'c', etc.) Then you give all the arguments which effect them in the advantage of this system is that the reader can see the sides of novel a good way. The reader approaches the problem with his mind on the wave-length you want. There is one draw back to this way. You want to refer back to sides of the question, as you usually have to, you must include such idioms on see (a) above and this then deflects the readers mind. 

The other method is to record, after starting one side of the question, all the reasons that make you favour or reject it. (It is the system I am using). The advantage of this system is that you can give, at the end of your discussion and each side of the question, your opinion of its value. There is a drawback here too. If sides of the question are, in themselves, of secure the reader will see what you are driving at until he has nearly finished reading the discussion. 

You must use your own judgement in this, although in examinations the sides to the question are well known to the examiner. It is therefore usual, in an examination, to follow each side of the question by its pros and con before talking the next. 

Stated the sides of the question and discussed each, as indicated above it only remains to finish you writing with some conclusion. Your latest paragraph should be the compliment of your first. If your first paragraph begins ; " I have the honour to request that etc". Your last one might be : " In conclusion." The leader, hopes, will write "Yes" and give it to a staff officer to arrange. 

If you follow this rule you will avoid two others. You will not put new matter into your last paragraph. If there is a new fact it is because the discussion is not finished and you are not ready for conclusion. You will also avoid living the reader in doubt as to your intention. If you want him to do something, or decide something, or learn something, he is will see what you want of him. He will not say " Well, what do I do now." It will be perfectly clear what is required of him. 

So much for the structure the first paragraph, the discussion and the last paragraph. There are few rules for your style or manner of presentation. The quality of your English is more important in examinations than in everyday life. An illiterate peasant if he speaks with sincerity will make his point, even though, there will be fault in his grammar. And accomplished with soft assents will sometime will fill his error with such rage that he is shown the door. The art is to combine the sincerity of the peasant with the polish of the accomplished speaker. To do this you must use short words, short sentences and as few adjectives as possible. short words are usually from the Latin. Do not say"Post-Prandial conversation of the bibulous nature "say " drunken talk after dinner". 

It is easier to make your sense clear in short sentences that in long ones. Short sentences aided directness to your style; like a straight left in the boxing-ring. Accomplished writers, however occasionally use a long sentence to relieve the somewhat telegraphic effect of a series of short ones. But there is a danger of long sentences becoming complicated ; and they often lead to mistake in punctuation. So avoid them until you are sure of yourself. 

When you have finished writing, go through your work and cut out all unnecessary words and sentences, you will find that many long sentences become short ones and are much improved thereby. 

In some places it is customary to avoid the first person. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But, before doing as the Romans do, make sure you are in Rome. Avoiding the first person must not lead you to making the sentences complicated and the sense "Woolly". For instance; "I advice you to pay promptly" is a good sentence. It is short and the meaning is clear. It would be appropriate in most places. If the person is taboo in your situation. You must write: "It is recommended that you pay promptly". This is still a good sentence within the limitations imposed by avoiding the first person. The temptation into which imposed by avoiding the first person the temptation in which many officers fall is to say; "It is recommended that payment should be made with almost expedition". This is a " Woolly" sentence. Avoid its kind. 

Writing headings and sub-headings, numbering the paragraphs,and the use of abbreviations are matters of custom. You must use your judgement. You are compelled to do these things in Orders and Appreciation’s. If you are in a hurry, as in an examination, well-chosen headings may help you. The examiner may assume you could expand them more than you actually do. Letters and essays are often better without. (It would be easy to put headings into this paper. I think it would spoil it: You may not agree.) Headings and sub-headings help the writer more than the reader; they keep his mind on the subject. Numbering the paragraphs helps you ( and others) to refer to particular parts. Abbreviations wave trouble in writing. They may be all right in purely military papers but they must be translated for civilian readers. For civs, in fact, they are nbg. The military system of telling the time, using a twenty-four hour clock, is not always clear outside the Services. Say: three O'clock in the afternoon, or 3 p.m., rather than 1500 hrs. And for ghosts to appear at 2359 hrs is ludicrous. 

Some catch-phrases lead you to long sentences. 'In the case of' which is such a one. "In the case of officers, their pay will be halved" is a long way of saying: "Officers pay will be halved". Whenever you see in the case of unofficial writing (and it is common), consider how much simpler the sentence might be if the phrase were omitted. In view of the fact that is another phrase that leads to long sentences. "In view of the fact that we are an island race, we must have a good navy" is simplified by saying" we are an island race, so we must have a good navy". The catch- phrases. "As follows", on the other hand, saves words. Macaulay uses the phrase and he is prince of words. These last, however are refinements. They make the difference between a competent work and a work of art. The two essentials are: to found your writing on sound thinking and to write your paper along the lines I have given. 

Such are the rules for military writing. Follow them and your pen will be mighty. 

[No paragraph headings have been given in deference to the authors opinion! - Editor] 

- Curtsey The Royal Engineers Journal, also published in Universal Military Abstract, Mar-Apr 1998, pp 64-65.