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Tuesday October 15, 2019

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

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

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Anniversary issues have generally been occasions to rejoice over progress made, recount events and developments, and prepare for what is yet to come. And it is something largely followed here as well. But this anniversary issue is different for it comes in the wake of a deep tragedy, followed upon by an announcement of some military significance. So, the anniversary mood is somewhat tempered, as it ought to be in the circumstances. After all, no one can be ignorant or indifferent to the prevailing national mood.

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

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Terrorism is a scourge that has haunted the world for years and threatens to do so for decades to come. There seemed a time when it appeared that the world would unite as one to pursue this infection to its logical end. That era dawned on the 11 September 2001 when the United States was attacked with weapons the world had never used and at a scale which warranted unity and immediate action. For even as the US was attacked, amongst the dead were nationals of many countries. The world was paralysed by the attraction of the main target, the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.

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

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The origins of Special Forces lie in the beginnings of warfare and the willingness and audacity, of some to try a different method of fighting the same objective, defeating the will of the enemy to continue to fight. Special Forces have always existed as a military unit, mostly as a disorganised but highly motivated lot of volunteers who saw a different operational option. As militaries evolved into better organised services, so did the lot of those who saw themselves as the special, the ones who did things differently. Although it took many more years, lots more wars, for the concept of an organised Special Forces to take root. That too didn’t happen without a fight, but from within.

 

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

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The historic referendum and one with far reaching ramifications, has confirmed Britain’s exit from the European Union. The run up to the vote was bitter and exposed all the differences within British society, not least of which is the fact that most of those who voted to leave had earlier supported the entry into Europe. Within two generations, roughly, the same voters have come full circle and decided against staying in the European Union. There are two aspects to this referendum that are of utmost relevance to Asia and its endeavours to make this its century.

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

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India and the United States of America have asserted that the two countries are closing upon an agreement on the details of the long pending Logistics Supply Agreement (LSA). The agreement has been awaiting a signature for almost a decade and now, it is exhibiting symptoms of progress. Indian arguments against the LSA have hovered around its archaic comprehension of sovereignty. Miscellaneous words in the Indian discourse have gained traction, sovereignty is one of them. In an era, where a child can pilot a commercially available toy around the neighbourhood snooping at free will, it is quintessential that India reconsiders its approach to sovereignty as well.



The LSA isn’t an easy fit, so is any other bilateral agreement especially the one between an expansive USA and a continuously insular India. Bilateral agreements are meant to fructify gains for both the parties involved. So India is treading on its gain-lines and is not mono-sided as many would opine the Indians to believe. Conjointly, it compels Indian policy makers to surmise and execute beyond the limitations imposed by territorial boundaries. It is an opportunity to implement beyond courtesy calls on friendly ports.

To assimilate gains from the materialising synergy has been the impetus behind the two decades of Joint or Combined exercises. Grammatically, the two words are different but in the military lexicon, they are often interchangeably used. Either of the words, conveys the same significance that is sought by policy makers ie the sense of joint-ness with friendly foreign militaries. Operational joint-ness with another country or a group of like-minded countries is an extremely important policy statement that goes a long way in ameliorating relations and instilling confidence in the other. A full-fledged battle is always about having confidence in those around you. Joint and Combined training exercises are precisely about that endgame in mind – the possibility of conducting live operations together. The planning is always in an out of area operations; in the locus of lands disturbed by nature or by the shenanigans of mankind. In this new century, the Joint and Combined operational planning is imperative since a large swathe of land is under the sway of extreme politically inspired violence or comes under the attack of forces of nature that are beyond the scope of the affected country. Sri Lanka and Aceh province of Indonesia are a case in point following the devastating Asian tsunami of December 2014.

There are other aspects of transnational jointness that also come under the purview of military diplomacy and which are just as important. They may not make the news but play an important role which cannot be understated. The sight of carrier battle groups exercising jointly or various combat aircrafts of different countries displaying gut wrenching manoeuvres, make for stunning visuals. Even the simple foot soldier parades their differing combat gear, sporting different equipment. All of these visuals make for some catchy stories.

Equally important are the poor rain sodden cadets at military academies arriving from various countries but under the orders of the same directing staff and drill instructors. The fact that a country sends its future military leadership to a foreign land for training speaks volumes about the calibrated degrees of confidence between the nations which is in essence the main fillip behind the need to encourage military diplomacy. This is, after all, the aspect of diplomacy which provides for the greatest variety of options and equally varied solutions to the problems. And this is a field in which India has played an important role and could do much more.

Even as the Indian military training establishments welcome cadets or officers from friendly foreign countries, New Delhi would do well to send more of its soldiers on foreign courses. There have been a number of cases where political clearance, which means the Ministry of External Affairs, has not been given or delayed, for Indianv vacancies in foreign courses. What is important for military knowledge is best left for the military to decide instead of a bureaucrat putting an indelible ink mark. Increasing Indian military presence in diplomatic missions across the globe is another insufficiently fulfilled aspect of military diplomacy. Untapped opportunities is India’s loss, not just that of its military.

 

 
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