A strategic concept for Indian defence services.
The fundamental element of a military service is its purpose or role in implementing national policy. The statement of this role may be called the strategic concept of the service. Basically, this concept is a description of how, when, and where the military service expects to protect the nation against some threat to its security. If a military service does not possess such a concept, it becomes purpose-less, it wallows about amid a variety of conflicting and confusing goals, and ultimately it suffers both physical and moral degeneration. A military service may at times, of course, perform functions unrelated to external security, such as internal policing, disaster relief, and citizenship training. These are, however, subordinate and collateral responsibilities. A military service does not exist to perform these functions; rather it performs these functions because it has already been called into existence to meet some threat to the national security. A service is many things; it is men, weapons, bases, equipment, traditions, organization. But none of these have meaning or usefulness unless there is a unifying purpose which shapes and directs their relations and activities towards the achievement of some goal of national policy.
A second element of military service is the resources, human and material, which are required to implement its strategic concept. To secure these resources it is necessary for society to forego the alternative uses to which these resources might be put and to acquiesce in their allocation to the military service. Thus, the resources which a service is able to obtain in a democratic society are a function of the public support of that service. The service has the responsibility to develop this necessary support, and it can only do this if it possesses a strategic concept which clearly formulates its relationship to the national security. Hence this second element of public support is in the long run, dependent upon the strategic concept of the service. If a service does not posses a well defined strategic concept, the public and the political leaders will be confused as to the role of the service, uncertain as to the necessity of its existence and apathetic or hostile to the claims made by the service upon the resources of society.
Organizational structure is the third element of a military service. For given these first two elements, it becomes necessary to group the resources allocated by society in such a manner as most effectively to implement the strategic concept. Thus the nature of the organization likewise is dependent upon the nature of the strategic concept. Hence there is no such thing as the ideal form of military organization. The type of organization which may be appropriate for one military service carrying our one particular strategic concept may be quite inappropriate for another service with a different concept. This is true not only in the lower realms of tactical organization but also in the higher reaches of administrative and departmental structure.
In summary, then, a military service may be viewed as consisting of a strategic concept which defines the role of the service in national policy, public support which furnishes it with the resources to perform this role, and organizational structure which groups the resources so as to implement most effectively the strategic concept.
Shifts in the international balance of power will inevitably bring about changes in the principal threats to the security of any given nation. These must be met by shifts in national policy and corresponding changes in service strategic concepts. A military service capable to meeting one threat to the national security loses its reason for existence when that threat weakens or disappears. If the service is to continue to exist, it must develop a new strategic concept related to some other security threat. As its strategic role changes, it may likewise be necessary for the service to expand, contract, or alter its sources of public support and also to revamp its organizational structure in the light of this changing mission.[USNI Blog]
This essay [HT: Nitin Pai] was penned in May 1954 by Samuel Huntington, when he was 27-year old, for the USNI Proceedings magazine. As the debate over the civil-military relations in India has been so much in the spotlight, this piece raises some fundamental questions that the Indian defence services should try and honestly answer. When the military veterans indulge in emotional blackmail or the defence services pass the buck on to the neta-babu nexus for all the ills afflicting them, they do a great disservice to the services, their members and the nation at large.
It is perhaps too much to expect the feudal remnants of a colonial armed force to define its strategic concept, which would be relevant to a modern, twenty-first century India and its geopolitical environment. Unless the defence services get over their colonial hangover, they will not be able to lay a justifiable claim to the resources from the society. And they need to revamp their organisational structure to suit their modern strategic concept. As it is highly unlikely that Indian defence services would be able to do all this on their own, a Blue Ribbon Commission for defence is the only answer; something that should be on the top of the agenda of the new government at Delhi.
The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealised past. ~Robertson Davies