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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (November 2016)

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There is something common in the requirement that will make up the future soldier and policeman. Strange as it may seem, because the job profile and the professional role of both these essentials of national security are at such variance to each other. The soldier is, after all, the sword arm of the state, the last option, resort of the government. While the policeman is the essential public interface with the people, the one who ensures that faith is not lost in governance. And that, there is no breakdown in the moral authority of the state.

 


After all, the soldier steps in when the state machinery breaks down, loses its moral authority. This is plain to the eye in areas riven with insurgency. The Army is called in to restore some semblance of order, even though it is the role of the civil agencies to do that. And within the civil sector it is the primary responsibility of the police to ensure that law and order are maintained and people continue to live their lives without harm to body or mind. But as has happened in many places, across the world, the state has ceased to exist.

This is where the commonality between the future soldier and policeman enters the debate. Both are currently members of enormous organisations, trained to operate in large numbers and deployed in a mass. But the job profile of the future requires that the soldier and policeman develop skills that enable them to operate as individuals and not just in number. As society changes rapidly, so do all the issues that come forth from this evolution, including war and the methods to fight it. Crime, for which the policeman is recruited to confront and prevent, and war which is the soldiers’ responsibility to train and fight, are both in throes of massive change.

So to confront both the issues, crime and war, the policeman and the soldier have to change from their current levels of training and skills. For the nature of crime and war require that those responsible for prevention have the capabilities to operate at higher levels of individuality and initiative. It is plain to the eye that massed trench warfare is a thing of the past and so is the possibility of police at every corner. Future is silent skilled prevention.

This is where the role of technology comes in. For just as crime is getting more technical, from credit card fraud, to cyber and medical scandals, so is war seeing the use of greater uses of high end easy to use technology. A recent example of Iraq is most telling where the Islamic State used a commercially available drone as an aerial explosive device by letting Kurdish Peshmerga fighters attempt to dismantle it. In the process, it exploded and killed three combatants. A very cost effective weapon for an adversary that has no dearth of imagination when it comes to using weapons, mechanical or psychological.

The future of policing and soldiering, therefore, will require ample skills in both technology and psychology. Both are now essentials in equal measure. Gone are the days of simple soldiering and policing. The tasks are far too complex already and certain to get even more so. The technical skills now required are such that both will need to have the capability to operate at distances, durations and take decisions without always being able to refer to the seniors for immediate guidance and command. The ability to operate independently will make the difference between an efficient policeman, soldier and a failed one.

In an era of instant information dissemination, failure of the state is unacceptable. Even if the failure is in perception only. A smartphone is a veritable television station broadcasting live, facts or fiction. And the machineries of the state have to confront that threat all hours of the day and over the whole year. So the future policeman and soldier, have to be armed with such skills, as well as their basic roles. Of course, the basics haven’t changed; it is just that advancements in the society have been such that challenges are more complex than can be envisioned by current training manuals. The future soldier and policeman, therefore, have to visualise the most intricate of solutions to a challenging future. And they would have to do it largely by themselves.

 


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