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Manvendra Singh Blog - DSA's Editor-in-Chief

DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (January-2020)

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The outgoing Chief of Army Staff has made a very pertinent observation about the future of warfare. He won’t be repeating the remarks during the traditional pubic interaction on the occasion of the upcoming Army Day 2020 on 15 January, since he retired at the end of December. But these are important observations, especially given the backdrop of repeated utterances that have bordered on the avoidable, or, some downright against the army ethos.

Commenting on the direction of combat in the future, Gen Bipin Rawat said that non-contact warfare is gaining relevance in wars to come. This is a useful point to begin an analysis on the direction of the army as it evolves in the future, given its domestic, regional and international challenges and commitments. In all spheres, the challenges are fairly predictable since they haven’t changed much over the last decades. Beginning with the first Pakistani incursion into Kashmir in 1947, then the birth of insurgencies in 1950s in northeastern states, the China border War of 1962, Indo-Pak Wars of 1965 and 1971, militancy in Punjab and then Kashmir.

Such is the Indian combat collage at an instant glance. At every juncture, the army looms large in terms of taking on the responsibility for the country, as it should. Punjab and Mizoram are the only success stories when it comes to end of militancy, but even that should be analysed from a political as well as security perspective. Overall the picture remains static, and so in this scenario, at the beginning of a new decade, how can the army leverage new technologies to tackle old challenges. This is the moot question that arises from Gen Rawat’s observations. It requires greater analysis for that would give a clearer picture of what is possible, and what needs to be done.

‘Non-contact warfare’ in simple language is the wizardry of a drone strike in the bad lands of terrorism, while the controller sits in a different country, time zone, maybe even continent. Such is the scope of this form of warfare. This, however, raises another question, and which needs to be pondered by the army leadership. Why should the role of technology be limited to only ‘combat’ roles, why can’t it be included in administrative and logistics functions as well? For that is where there are substantial gains to be made, in terms of efficiency and economics.

There are many platforms that are being discussed in seminars and on drawing boards across the world, from artificial and machine intelligence, to cyber-space and beyond. For the energies of all these potentially game changing tools to be channelled to their fullest capability, the army will also need to look at itself, within. Can the current structures, and even the newly proposed ones, actually enhance war-fighting capabilities, or, will they only add a greater burden to a military bureaucracy already reeling from being overweighed? [This is deliberate, and not to be changed to overweight] For the army to gain technical dominance over the adversary, it would need to create the necessary structures across the board, not just in Headquarters.

 

DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (December 2019)

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The United Nations recently declared that the six-month deadline for Britain to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius had passed. It had voted in May 2019 for the return of the islands, and gave Britain six months to do so. But it seems that holding the islands is far more important for Britain than international censure or even some kind of sanctions. It isn’t difficult to see why, since amongst the islands is the famous military station, Diego Garcia, which Britain has leased to the United States. It remains one of the most important bases anywhere in the world, and the most secretive too.

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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (November-2019)

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After much humming and hawing, India and Pakistan finally signed along the dotted line to activate the much announced Kartarpur Gurudwara Corridor. Media reports had long back said that the signing would be delayed. So much so, some even wondered whether it would be done at all. Pakistan had once announced that all Indian pilgrims would pay a dollar fees, but now that too has been waived by an announcement made by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The on-off, and on again, nature of the Kartarpur Corridor issue truly captures all that has gone amiss in the running of a once hyped South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (October-2019)

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Raksha Mantri Sh Rajnath Singh has become the first to hold that office who has flown a sortie in Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. The indigenously developed LCA Tejas holds its own importance to many people connected with the Air Force, and Indian defence industry and management generally. What it above all stands for is the ability of Indian scientists and engineers to master critical technologies so as to make a modern combat aircraft. That is a matter of pride as the country approaches its annual Air Force Day on 08 October.

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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (September 2019)

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After a long stand-off, the Iranian tanker, Grace 1, has set sail from Gibraltar, heading eastbound, allegedly for Syria. Which is where the root of this crisis lies! Washington tried to prevent the tanker from sailing and in fact asked for it to be handed over. The Gibraltar courts would have none of it, and let it free after weeks in detention. In the meantime it has been renamed Adrian Darya-1, why so is not such a mystery after all given the nature of the crisis.

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