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Cover Story

Enter ‘Tactical’ Strategy
In a Superlative & most Insightful analysis, B&E Documents how Corporate Leaders have Transformed their Organisations & Implemented continental strategic shifts that have Rewritten Global Management case books
Issue Date - 17/02/2011
In modern militaries, the concept of readiness is an important facet of national security policy, planning and decision making processes. For instance, in the West, there has always been enough evidence in the public domain to evaluate the readiness of the armed forces in terms of military mobilisation, insufficient manpower and equipment holdings, training inadequacies, etc. If viewed in the broader context, the construct tends to merge with “military capability”, while in the narrow context, it tends to tilt towards battlefield or military “effectiveness”. In effect, the construct of military readiness is nothing but a relationship between the availability of time and required military capability. Richard K Betts defines military readiness as a complex trade off among three broad questions: Readiness for What?, Readiness of What? and Readiness for When?

Since independence, India has demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm in maintaining requisite levels of defence preparedness. Stephen Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta, in their recent book ‘Arming without Aiming’, argue that strategic restraint has been the defining feature of India’s national policy, which is reflected in the defence policy making and modernisation processes. They argue that economic growth and greater access to technology seem to be changing the strategic perspectives within the country, while increased resource allocation is contributing to the overall growth of the Indian armed forces. India’s emphasis on defence acquisitions alone is unlikely to improve the overall preparedness of the armed forces. Perhaps, there is a need to examine readiness needs against the backdrop of three fundamental dimensions postulated by Betts: the likely threats; the desired military capability on land, sea and air; and the time by when to field them. A broad analysis of these three dimensions reveals that while the conventional and sub-conventional threats emanating from our western adversary might demand immediately deliverable instruments of force, the threat in the north being more long term will require structural readiness in terms of the adequacy of mountain warfare and maritime forces, strategic defence infrastructure, and asymmetric warfare capacities.

limitations and inhibitions
India has no formal document that systematically articulates the country’s national interests, security objectives, and in turn, the military readiness strategy. The absence of an overarching strategic guidance thus hampers the functioning of defence policy makers, planners and practitioners, and often leads to narrow interpretations of the country’s defence preparedness needs. In fact, the fault lines in India’s military readiness strategy can be gauged at three levels: deficiencies in policy, planning and decision making; inability to remove irritants in capability development; and the institutional culture and capacity to absorb change. Many experts argue that a strategic defence review is important, as this alone will help formulate the shape, size and role of the armed forces in the short, medium and long terms. A balanced civil-military relationship is equally important, which if accompanied by pragmatic doctrinal evolution, long term planning, and capability development, will contribute to the overall creation and maintenance of readiness levels.
evolving a strategy
The first priority of the national security framework must be to ensure that the armed forces are ready to fight. Creating war fighting capacities takes years, but an even greater challenge is the preservation of military readiness. The approach therefore cannot be to deal with defence preparedness issues as they emerge, but to anticipate and if possible prevent them from occurring through a well structured system. In the Indian context, the problem lies in the inability to comprehensively define what readiness is, and is not. Identifying and bridging the military readiness gap would involve several aspects.

First, it will entail laying down of clear and concise metrics and standards in order to specify the levels of operational readiness that the armed forces must be able to attain and sustain. Second, the ability to ascertain whether the desired operational readiness levels are being achieved, or there exists a shortfall. And third, the creation of oversight structures that accord appropriate attention to the military readiness policy, levels, and deficiencies. A hierarchical structure could be created at several levels to compile, collate and analyse preparedness related data of required manpower, material and money to address the deficiencies in the country’s war fighting potential.

The way ahead
India’s ability to fashion readiness of its military components will depend on the country’s national vision and the quality of strategic decision making across several departments and disciplines. National vision and strategic thinking will be extremely essential to manage the acquisition of a regional or global status and military capabilities to leverage this position. Whether India can develop the institutions that allow it to define its security objectives clearly and, in turn, allow it to mobilise its resources for economic growth effectively, would be extremely important. This national vision alone can allow the Indian state to transform its strategic resources in terms of money, manpower and material (3Ms) efficiently into some useable instruments of force required to make it a power of some consequence. Apparently, there exists a deficit on this account and that in turn inhibits the maintenance of right balance between development and defence in the most creative ways possible. Greater clarity on the country’s grand strategy, and in turn, the national security strategy alone can secure India’s unhindered economic and technological growth.

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