Monday, January 16, 2017

Military competent to do self-correction; leave it alone


Last week saw a spate of video messages by soldiers across Army, BSF and CRPF complaining and highlighting what they felt was supply of bad food, lack of good facilities and demeaning treatment because the leadership in these forces—according to them—is involved in corruption and has feudal attitude towards the men they command.

While the men may have genuine grievances and perhaps felt that existing channels of redress are not sufficient, I am aghast at the extrapolation done by a section of the Indian media portraying these complaints as catastrophe that has overtaken the Indian security forces and that the time-tested officer-men relationship—especially in the Army—is no longer as robust as it used to be.

As someone who’s had an opportunity to be a media practitioner across web, print and broadcast mediums for over three decades, I am aware of the pressures of ratings and compulsion to be ‘first with the news,’ that often overtakes sound judgement. And that is what has happened over the past week. In the mad race to boost circulation and viewer ratings, a section of the ignorant media has, in one go, sought to tarnish and destroy one of the last institutions that has stood rock solid in defence of India.
Ill-informed—I would in fact go the extent of saying ‘uneducated’ (in military matters)-- star anchors and reporters are out to create divide within the army where none exists. The officer-soldier relationship has certainly undergone a change over the past couple of decades thanks to the churn in the Indian society at large but it is still the bedrock of the Indian Army’s day to day functioning. The bonding between officers and men is evident in the hundreds of daily counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations carried out by the Indian Army. Indeed, without that bonding officers will not be able to lead--and men will not willingly go into--operations that can lead to death of brothers-in-arms.
It is easy to sit and pontificate from the confines of the studio and reduce the issues to binaries of good and ugly but the reality is more complex. Yes, there is a problem. But the problem is not as disastrous as made out to be. In fact these issues are an outcome of a combination of factors: erosion in the soldiers’ status in the society; prolonged deployment in monotonous and thankless counter-insurgency jobs; crippling shortage of officers in combat units; and, ironically, easier communication between families and soldiers!

A psychiatric study by Army doctors some years ago on ‘Evolving Medical Strategies for Low Intensity Conflicts’ revealed the huge range of issues soldiers in such situations have to confront, contradictions between war and low-intensity conflict situations, and, particularly, the concepts of ‘enemy’, ‘objective’ and ‘minimum force’. Some other findings were:
• In general war, the nation looks upon the soldier as a saviour, but here he is at the receiving end of public hostility.
• A hostile vernacular press keeps badgering the security forces, projecting them as perpetrators of oppression.
• Continuous operations affect rest, sleep and body clocks, leading to mental and physical exhaustion.
• Monotony, the lure of the number game, and low manning strength of units lead to overuse and fast burnout. 

Operating in a tension-ridden counter-insurgency environment does lead to certain stress among the jawans, but that is only one of the factors. The main worries are the problems back home: land disputes; tensions within the family; rising aspirations.
During my travels in counter-insurgency areas, I have often come across company commanders telling me how, for many soldiers, tensions at home create unbearable stress. Often, a land dispute back home or a family feud weighs heavily on the soldier’s mind. For the ordinary soldier, the smallest patch of land back home is the most precious property. Again, I have frequently come across a common thread where soldiers say there is no tension in the actual work of counter-insurgency. The main problem for the fauji comes from his domestic situation.

Add to it the fact that the society no longer respects the soldier and his work in protecting the nation. A local politician, a thanedar, etc., seem to command more clout in the society today. This has often led to loss of self-esteem among ordinary soldiers. A recent movie—Paan Singh Tomar—depicted, in some measure, the humiliation that a soldier faces in the civilian environment, both while serving and after retirement from the armed forces.

Senior officers point out that most suicide and fratricide cases take place after soldiers return from a spot of leave. And yet, the Army must look within too. Fortunately the leadership in the Army is as acutely aware of the need to change with time and adapt new practices in daily functioning.

Reforming the Organization

Soldiers these days are better educated and, consequently, better aware of their rights.
As the armed forces are in themselves a microcosm of India, the rising education and awareness levels in recruits is easily perceived. A sea change from yesteryears is now visible in the hordes of young men who crowd recruitment rallies across the country. Most hopefuls are the educated unemployed youth who turn towards the military for acquiring early financial and social security. Their educational qualification is Class XII on the average, many being graduates too. The stereotype of an innocent, less educated but hardy soldier is now a thing of the past. The officer base has also shifted predominantly to the middle class. This has further narrowed the gap between the ‘leaders’ and ‘followers’.

An acute shortage of officers at the cutting-edge level is the other big factor contributing to an limited bonding between soldiers and officers. Against an authorized strength of over 22 officers for a combat battalion, there are at best eight or nine officers available to the commanding officer these days.

Very often, young officers with less than two years of service are commanding companies! Even in the battalion headquarters, one officer ends up doing the job of three, given the shortage. There is no time to interact with soldiers. In the old days, a game of football or hockey was the best way to get to know each other. Not any longer.

What, then, is the way forward?

Embracing Change

The average Indian soldier remains as hardy as before but he is certainly confused with the pace of change occurring all around him. It is here that the leaders—the officers—will have to adapt themselves to the new reality. The age-old system of regimental traditions and values is robust, and serves to develop camaraderie and loyalty between the led and the leader even now. The new fashion to dismiss them as outdated ideas must be arrested. Military ethos is not developed overnight and is certainly not imbibed by pandering blindly to the changes in society.

However the leadership needs to take cognizance of a new challenge: Proliferation of social media. Access to improved technology and means of communication has meant that soldiers are now tempted take a short cut to air their grievances—genuine or otherwise. The new Army chief has done well to issue a legitimate warning that misuse of social media will lead to consequences while at the same time, providing a new avenue of grievance redress through his office. However, the top leadership will have to be careful in not short-circuiting the traditional chain of command. 

The change must come from the top.

A former Army Commander, Lt. Gen. C.S.K. Sabu, had encapsulated the desired change in view of altered socio-economic conditions at a seminar on ‘Leadership Challenges in an Era of Turbulence’ at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi, in June 2010. He said: ‘Such a change needs to be top-down, and be backed by the force of institutional ethics, tradition, peer pressure and group dynamics. While the Chetwode motto of the Army is everlasting, it loses focus once a soldier is beyond his CO—it lacks the guiderail required for a codified, value-based ethical conduct on the part of senior officers, which must be set right.’
Certain changes which can be considered and deliberated are:
• 360 degree assessments in the context of Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs).
• Inculcate the warrior ethos in the Army.
• Embrace the soldier’s code—Veer Senani must be codified.
• Encourage scholar–warrior ethos for the officers.
• Promoting ethics and probity in military life.
• Norms for conducting welfare activities must change—it is a command function and must be restored to the same. 

Finally, if the led are to believe the leader, the leader must walk the talk. Officers must believe in themselves and the system that they work in. They must take pride in the fact that the military is essentially different in its work culture, ethos, traditions and values from any other entity. Soldiering is the only profession in which a man voluntarily chooses to enter into a contract that entails death if the occasion so demands.


The Indian military, despite its recent problems, remains a very fine institution. To be relevant and effective, it must, however, embrace change with discretion. Therein lies the trick in meeting the increasing challenge posed to the military leadership. However, let the change be driven by the military itself rather than pesky anchors and upstart reporters hectoring soldiers on a matter that they have very little idea about.

Monday, January 9, 2017

All you wanted to know about the Shekatkar Committee Report but didn't know where to look

                                    
Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (retd) presenting copy of the report
to Manohar Parrikar
The Lt Gen DB Shekatkar Committee—appointed by the government to enhance the combat potential of the armed forces and rebalancing defence expenditure—has recommended a number of measures to trim, redeploy and integrate manpower under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in a gradual manner to meet the objective of an agile but effective military to meet current and future threats that India faces, BharatShakti has learnt after speaking to multiple sources including some members of the panel.

The Committee, which submitted the final report to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 21 December 2016, has noted that if majority of its recommendations are implemented over the next five years, the government can save up to Rs 25,000 crore from its current expenditure. The Committee has however warned that the implementation cannot be selective. As the report has apparently noted: the redeployment of manpower from and downsizing of some of the organisations under the MoD will have to be across the board and ruthless to be effective. Moreover, the Shekatkar Committee has made it clear that the saving made as a result of its recommendations must be redeployed in enhancing the combat capabilities of the Indian armed forces and not be merged in the general budget.

After taking into account the nature threats that the country is likely to face in coming decades, the committee has in fact recommended that the defence budget should be in the range of 2.5 and three per cent of the GDP. This would however require a substantial change in approach and outlook of the government towards the armed forces. For the last five years for instance, defence budget has remained below two per cent of the GDP. 

One of the major recommendations of the committee is to review the definition of ‘Capital’ and ‘Revenue’ budget heads in the funds allocated to the three armed forces, particularly the Indian Army. The panel notes that the Indian Army—unlike the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force—will have to remain a manpower-intensive force because of its major deployment in the mountains against both its major adversaries, China and Pakistan. As a result the sustenance budget of the Indian Army will be higher than the other two services leaving very little money for capital acquisition. The panel has reportedly therefore recommended that a ‘roll on’ plan for fresh acquisitions be introduced so as to overcome the practice of ‘surrendering’ funds at the end of every financial year.

The panel has also suggested a review of the financial management system of the MoD in which the defence finance wing is seen to be more of an impediment in clearing projects and has recommended that the financial powers of all the three chiefs and vice chiefs be enhanced further to quicken the pace of acquisitions.
As for redeployment and rationalising of manpower, the Shekatkar Committee has recommended that the role of non-combat organisations paid for and sustained by the defence budget be subjected to a performance audit. Some of these organisations mentioned in the report are Defence Estates, Defence Accounts, DGQA, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), DRDO, and the National Cadet Corps (NCC). Once a professional and objective review is carried out, the committee said, substantial savings can be achieved by downsizing or rationalising the manpower in these organisations.

The committee has also suggested the establishment of a Joint Services War College for training for middle level officers (the higher command course for instance), even as the three separate War Colleges—currently at Mhow, Secunderabad and Goa—for Army, Air Force and Navy could continue to train younger officers for their respective service. Similarly it has recommended that the Military Intelligence School at Pune be converted to a tri-service Intelligence training establishment.

Another aspect highlighted by the committee is the increasing reluctance on part of the state governments to renew lease of land for crucial firing ranges for the troops. Increasing urbanisation and pressure on land has meant that the armed forces have to battle political and bureaucratic pressure to retain the existing firing ranges. The panel has therefore suggested better coordination between the MoD and state governments to overcome this problem.

However the Committee has also suggested that the armed forces ramp up the quantum of training on various simulators. The new recruits can do about 60 per cent of their firing training on simulators, resulting in substantial savings to the tune of Rs 20-25 crore per annum in expenditure of training ammunition, the committee has suggested.

There are several other suggestions to improve efficiency of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), re-orienting the training staff of NCC by utilising more ex-servicemen and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) to free young serving officers for more mainline jobs and even recommending the possibility of shifting NCC under the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry.

Like the previous such reviews ordered by the government, notably the Naresh Chandra Committee, the Shekatkar Committee too has said a 4-star Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)—or a Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee—be appointed as a ‘chief coordinator’ between the military and the Ministry of Defence. It has however stressed on retaining the primacy of the three service chiefs in operational and administrative roles even while suggesting establishment of three or four integrated commands in medium to long term.  This aspect will however need further deliberation at the highest level, the committee has suggested.

The entire report, it appears is focussed on shedding the flab in the MoD and make India’s armed forces more agile and technology-oriented to meet current and future national security objectives.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The military needs professional audit, says a serving young officer. I agree

For the past 12 hours, I am being had (as they say in the fauj) for raising what I consider legitimate questions on why is the military taking a battering (from Uri to Nagrota via Pathankot) in J &K. While no one doubts the bravery, commitment and professionalism of our men in uniform, many civilians are asking the question: Why are military bases attacked with such regularity and with apparent success by terrorists?Why can't such attacks be minimised, if not prevented altogether? 

I am no fauji (as many key-board warriors remind me all the time on social media because I haven't served) but as someone who has operated in various insurgency theatres in north-east, J&K and Sri Lanka since 1983, I have a semblance of idea of what it means to be in a conflict zone. But don't take my word for it. 

Here's a serving young officer's take on what is happening vis-a-vis the military of late. For obvious reasons he will remain unnamed!


Well, We are at war. Look around if you doubt it. The situation in Kashmir and most of the north west border is volatile.

We knew that this WILL happen. The enemy is ready to hit and we are also doing the same. War does have its collaterals.

Failure.


Pathankot, Uri and Nagrota. It's good to brand the dead as martyrs. But that does not take away the need to assess the why of the incident.

Systemic problems.


It's easy to identify and weed out individual failure. When it cancers out into the system, the instinct to survive ensures that ugly facts are brushed under the carpet.

Examples.


No hierarchy was held accountable for failures at Nyoma, Samba, Nagrota, Machhal etc. The garb of collective blame took away the lessons needed to be learnt making the military as just another unaccountable bureaucracy of the Govt.

Inbred ideas.


Today we all like to be self audited. It's good not scientifically proven to be ineffective. E.g.  In Control Systems, if a system is only given positive feedback. It becomes unstable and collapses. Similarly a system without feedback has no control and self consumes.


The military needs professional audit by HR professionals, security experts and third party groups having no stake in the existing narrative. Self analysis will never reveal the actual fault lines.


Holy Cow


Only the nation is a holy cow. Everything else can and should be questioned for bringing out improvements. I feel that the government should take decisions through its collective wisdom and not let perceptions get in way of executive decisions that need to be timely.

Friday, November 4, 2016

An anguished plea by a veteran

The suicide of a veteran soldier in Delhi, purportedly over his unfufilled grievance, has brought the focus back on to the question of One Rank One Pension. A thorough enquiry will bring out the truth behind the suicide. However, it is time for everyone to be mature and responsible as the letter below from a veteran officer brings out. I am reproducing the text for everyone's benefit. Whether to follow his advice/suggestion is of course an individual decision.




Dear ABPSSP Members,

I am extremely pained about the unfortunate demise of Sub Ram Kishan Grewal on 1st Nov, 2016.Jantar Mantar has become a source of anti-government propaganda by political opponents of the ruling dispensation. It appears that he became a victim of Whatsapp misinformation fallout on OROP by some unscrupulous elements.While majority of the Ex-Service Men (ESM) have received their second installment of OROP, during September 2016, reasons for Late Sub Ram Kishan Grewal’s OROP anomalies need to be investigated factually.

As per the available information, Sub RK Grewal had served for six years in Territorial Army (TA) and subsequently twenty-one years in Defence Security Corps (DSC). At the time of his demise he was drawing INR 23,000 a month. It appears that some amongst the ESM had informed late Sub RK Grewal, that his OROP was INR 28,000 a month. Apparently, he had written a letter to the Defence Minister on 31st October, 2016, complaining about this discrepancy. Unfortunately, even before the Defence Minister could receive or respond to the letter, the said person ended his life at Jantar Mantar.

We, the members of ABPSSP, convey our deepest condolences to the family of Sub Grewal and would do whatever is within our purview to help the family to overcome their grief and their resettlement. We are extremely disturbed and upset at the politics over this “suicide”. It is disgusting to see that some politicians are openly making this an opportunistic incident by press - ganging the family at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

We appeal to the political class; when such tragedy overtakes soldiers, please do not exploit the families of the bereaved for selfish, political agenda. There are many ways that the political class can help the bereaved families to overcome their grief and face the tragedy rather than crudely politicizing the issue.

We are also pained to learn that some retired Officers have been instigating a segment of the ESM for resumption of protests at Jantar Mantar, by listing several misplaced demands (most of which) were unfounded and unreasonable. We appeal to JantarMantar leaders, not to play into the hands of unscrupulous politicians. Let us not ignore the feeling of disgust and cynicism among the public when they watched on the news, ESM burning their medals in July-August, 2015 at Jantar Mantar. Bitter but true – we have lowered our esteem amongst our own people.

I urge the members of ABPSSP and through them the Ex-Service Men fraternity to comprehend the “political drama” over suicide of an Ex-Service Man with an open mind and in proper perspective after considering the following: 
  •      Ex-Service Men fraternity were denied OROP for 43 years (1978-2015) by successive governments.
  •        Sensing the mood of the ESM, then Finance Minister, announced a token of INR 500 Crores for OROP in the budget of February 2014,something the government then was not serious about. 
  •      Perseverance of the Defence Minister in finalizing the OROP Scheme through several rounds of consultation with Ex-Service Men Organizations from February to September 2015, is well known.
  •     The government has not only implemented the OROP Scheme in November, 2015, but it has already paid two installments of the OROP arrears – March 2016 and October 2016 respectively.

·    To overcome the anomalies of the OROP Scheme in vogue, Justice Narsimhan Committee has traveled across the country, received representation from all Ex-Service Men organizations and submitted its report to the Ministry of Defence.

·     The Defence Minister has institutionalized periodic meetings at the Ministry of Defence with Ex-Service Men organizations and other stake holders to resolve all related grievances. Two such meetings have already been held – 14 March & 24 October, 2016.


There will always be a lot going on in the country – at the border, in the capital or anywhere in the vast expanse that we call our motherland. The day we all signed up to be part of the armed forces, it became our responsibility to safeguard our nation in all ways possible. Post-retirement, as part of the civil society, it is now one of our duties to bridge the gap between the civilians and the armed forces. I appeal for your understanding and soldierly response on all fronts of nation building activities. 

Lt Gen VM (Venky Patil)
Chairman, ABPSSP (Akhil Bharatiya Purva Sainik Seva Parishad)

Friday, September 23, 2016

The story behind the story on Rafale that I broke


Last year in April, I almost ignored one of the biggest tip-offs I have received as a journalist but managed to put it up on my blog 12 hours after I first heard about it. 

The story begins on the morning of 9 April 2015, around 1130 am when I bumped into a top defence source at the domestic airport in Delhi who casually mentioned that a decision has been taken by the government to buy the Rafale combat jets off the shelf from France, scrapping an ongoing process that was going nowhere. 

I heard the source say that between 60 and 63 jets were to be bought. Apparently, the decision was taken at a special meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to depart for France. A few hours after that we had this accidental meeting at the airport.

My 'news antennae' was immediately up and I had no doubt about the authenticity of the new since the source was top class but as luck would have it, I had back-to-back appointments that day culminating in a dinner at an embassy. Since I was by now freelancing, I wasn't sure who among the news outlets would believe me with such a massive news break. So I hesitated and kept the information with me.Until about 10.45 at night. 

As I got into the car for a 45-minute journey home, it struck me that this gold standard info should not go unreported. What if some one else also reports it in tomorrow morning's newspaper,I thought to myself and started writing furiously on my I-phone.

Reaching home around 1130, I decided to put up the news on my own blog. So about 10 minutes to midnight on 9 April ( now I see the time was actually 1153 pm), I published this (http://nitinagokhale.blogspot.in/2015/04/big-breakthrough-in-rafale-deal-likely.html) blog post, sticking my neck out. 

All hell broke loose in the aviation circles across the world around midnight IST as I tweeted the link to the piece. Many enquiries were made, many Direct Messages on twitter were exchanged and it wasn't until about 4 am that I could sleep.

Waking up later than usual the next day (10 April), I scanned the morning newspaper for any news on Rafale and sure enough one of the Delhi papers had more or less the same information as I had.

The South Block, headquarter of India's Ministry of Defence (MoD), was--friends on the defence beat said--swarming with reporters of international news agencies and newspapers that afternoon, trying to confirm the news. Indian Air Force officials and the MoD Spokesperson were inundated with calls trying to verify the news put out by me and another newspaper about the decision on Rafale. No one seem to have any idea. Our reports were in fact run down by established celebrity defence analysts as fanciful and unrealistic. To be honest, I did feel bit uneasy but kept the faith since I had got the news from someone who had an inside track in the government.

As the day progressed, one hint of that there was indeed the possibility of a deal being announced came through a report from Paris which quoted Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirming that talks were on on this issue. 

I felt slightly assured.

But it was not until past 10 pm Indian time--nearly 23 hours after I had taken a chance to put out what looked liked an improbable news at that time--that I could heave a sigh of relief. Prime Minister Modi announced at a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande that he had asked France to supply 36 Rafale planes in ready to fly condition (http://in.reuters.com/article/india-france-rafale-idINKBN0N10OL20150410). 

I had got the numbers wrong however. I had said India may buy 60 to 63 Rafales. It turned out that the numbers were to be restricted to 36. 

Since then, in the last 17 months, despite what many naysayers said, my sources in the IAF and MoD negotiating team kept insisting that the deal would go through and go through on India's terms. 

In some hours from now, the Indian and the French Defence Ministers will witness the signing of the formal contract. India has got its way in many respects ( http://bharatshakti.in/how-indian-negotiators-brought-down-the-price-of-rafale-jets%E2%80%8B/) but skeptics will still have doubts. 

For the sake of the country's security and for the IAF to remain a potent force, let's wish the main protagonists good luck.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A veteran's appeal against constant whining

Received this message from a sensible, mature and proud veteran. He is in a minority at the moment but the silent majority must back him and reclaim the voice of sanity is what I feel. Read on. And Act. Now.

It's not even funny to observe that most of who are creative at whining are those who just were mute when then  RM made a written statement in parliament that OROP was not feasible or desirable.


  • Mute when a Chief gave in writing that NFU & MACP not needed by services as it would kill merit.
  • Mute when Then  PM MMS in reply to Then ldr of opposition in lok sabha Mr Advani said OROP implemented issue closed.
  • Mute when then RRM closed investigations into bursting T-72 Guns
  • Mute when Substandard safety plates in mines caused deaths / maiming in mine lifting ops

One person comes along who says yes I will give and we pillory him.


Not appreciating what we got despite institutional bias.


What is in works despite lobbies & vested interests working against it ...


Think ...


Ponder


Instead of supporting efforts to strengthen hands that are giving we seek to deride those who fight for us
The Service pay cells
The AG & DG pers of Navy & AF
The Army CDRs & C-in-Cs of services
The Three service chiefs
The services favouring bureaucracy
The RM
The PM
.
.
We heckle Justice Reddy who is in favour of ESM
.
Other than our selves we have pilloried all ..
Sad state of affairs
We need to ask ourselves what have we done for common cause positivity ..
πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™ Most of you here are senior in age & service ..
Respectfully .. create & take forward positive .. even positive constructive criticism
Else we will loose all respect
πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
Ponder think contemplate


Another young officer, reading the above post just now messaged me this: That's what is required Dada. Get the Army back into Army. Where has the glory gone. My character...soul...life, everything is forged in steel once I say, I am in the army. What's this nonsense going on.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

DSSC: The cradle of tri-services jointmanship

Starting this week, I am going to write about different training establishment of the three armed forces that I visit throughout the year for guest lectures. They have glorious traditions, major accomplishments nd a vital role to play in shaping the top future military leadership. I start with the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC).


 Every February or March when I drive up from the plains of Coimbatore to the Nilgiri Hills and into the spotlessly clean campus of the Defence Services Staff College, I realize how this premier tri-Services training institution epitomises the crΓ¨me de la crΓ¨me of joint training military institutions in the world.

The Staff College, since its inception, has undoubtedly been the fountainhead of learning and military scholastic excellence in India. In my nearly decade-long association with DSSC as a visiting faculty—sharing my thoughts on military and media—the sharpest queries and most critical comments have come from the best and the brightest of the three services who get into this prestigious course through a competitive exam.
 
I have witnessed the College providing an invigorating environment for developing the ability for analytical thinking, creative and intellectual ability, ingenuity and innovative methids. In doing so, DSSC has reaffirmed its commitment to the noble traditions of the Services, while advancing the core values of ‘Duty, Honour and Country’in the leadership of Indian Armed Forces. These aspects are well summed up in College motto ‘Yuddham Pragyaya’, meaning ‘To War with Wisdom’.

It was therefore fitting to hear President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the colours last week in a glittering function. Presentation of colours is by one of the greatest honours bestowed upon an institution in recognition of exceptional service rendered to the nation. Speaking on the occasion, he said the college provides a stimulating environment for “analytical thinking towards creativity and intellectualism”. Founded in 1905 as the Army Staff college in Deolali near Mumbai, it was relocated to Quetta (now in Pakistan). “Post its relocation from Quetta to Wellington in 1948, the Defence Services Staff College has emerged as the premier Tri-Service Institution in the country, and today it epitomises ‘Military Academic Excellence’,” the President said. “The Staff College, founded on the pillars of ‘jointmanship and military leadership’, has played an instrumental role in enhancing the professional capabilities of the officers of the three Services to face the future challenges,” Mukherjee said. He said most critical and sensitive leadership in all the wars has been provided by the alumni of this very “fountainhead of military learning.”

Historically, excellence in command and staff functions has always been the cornerstone of success on the battlefield. The aim of the 45 week long annual Staff Course conducted at the DSSC is to train and educate selected officers of the three Services for command and staff functions in peace and war, in their own Service and inter-Service environment. Whilst numerous institutions of each Service such as Army, Navy and Air Force  exist worldwide to fulfil this role, DSSC is a unique institution in India and among the very few in the world which is truly ‘joint’ in nature and provides professional military education for officers of all three Services together.

The curriculum of the Staff Course caters to needs of the Indian Armed Forces and those across the globe to face the challenges in the unique security calculus that exists today. The course curriculum, balanced and comprehensive in terms of content as well as methods of conduct, comprises the subjects of National Security, Strategy, International Relations, Theories of Warfare, Leadership, Communication Skills and Research Methodology. Most of the academic education is conducted through seminar system in the form of discussions moderated by the faculty. Exercises and war games assist students to validate operational concepts learnt during the Course through practical application. These war games and exercises extensively utilise computer based packages for versatility and objectivity. The students also devote a significant amount of time to individual and group research as well as Study tours. In addition to the faculty driven education, eminent experts in diverse disciplines from across the globe provide students with their perspectives on contemporary and relevant issues through guest lectures.

The scholarly accomplishments of the College are also demonstrated through ‘Trishul’, a tri-Service professional journal, which provides a discussion forum for thought-provoking ideas and matters ‘au courant’ dealing with military issues, international relations, strategic affairs and progressive precepts of joint war fighting. 
Demonstrated professionalism of the Indian Armed Forces, comprehensive course content, world-class facilities and well qualified faculty make the Staff Course conducted at DSSC one of the most sought after courses in the world. DSSC has educated over 1700 students from 75 foreign countries to date and produced not only iconic military leaders but also the Heads of State in many a country. During my visits to DSSC, I have had the opportunity to interact with students from 25-30 countries at any time. Apart from professional training of the highest quality, these students are well nurtured during the intensive training into informal ambassadors of DSSC, contributing significantly to military diplomacy and soft power of the country.
Conforming to the modern needs, the College functions in a network enabled environment with a Wide Area Network connecting entire academic and residential areas. These enable host services such as e-mail and cloud, delivery of training content, interactive forums, conduct of online exercises, dissemination of critical information, administrative services. Software applications such as Geo-graphical Information System, War Gaming Systems and Combat Decision & Resolution Package are leveraged extensively to enhance the value of qualitative training imparted. The recently commissioned Air Wing War gaming Centre, is a futuristic operational Command & Control Centre in the armed forces, which aptly demonstrates the juxtaposition of infrastructure development and exploitation of information technology to fulfil academic needs.
As the current Commandant Lt Gen SK Gadeock, AVSM, says his Vision of DSSC strives not only to produce future military leaders and commanders, but also to achieve holistic persona development of their families, thus contributing to society and nation building in the long run. An important factor in accomplishing this objective is in providing robust infrastructure and a conducive, stress free environment. 
The most remarkable feature of the College is the availability of all the facilities within one campus, in proximity of the centre of academic activity. In recognition of the quality management system and environmental management system employed and the standards achieved, the College was accorded ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 certification on 25 Jun 2015- an unprecedented distinction. DSSC now stands apart as the only Armed Forces Institution in India to be certified for compliance with both ISO standards. The Presentation of colours by the President only confirmed the pre-eminent status that DSSC has come to enjoy among Category A Training Establishments of the three services.