Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

Transforming the Military


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 3- Transforming military

The COVID blaze caused economic disruption and now even the military is feeling the heat. The military is grappling with multiple issues like freezing of fresh capital acquisition and delay in procurement. But this could also be considered as an opportunity to transform the Indian military. 4 areas where this transformation could start are discussed in this article. Read to know more.

The difference in approaches to security

  • Pakistan’s approach: Pakistan stagnates in an existential-threat-based and India-centric approach to national security.
  • What is China’s approach? China’s expansive global strategy and unbridled capability-based development surge have overcome the dangers of direct competition with the US.
  • It has closed the gap through an “indirect approach to international security”.
  • This indirect approach looks at building on strengths in areas such as cyberspace, non-contact warfare, economic and diplomatic coercion.

So, what should be India’s approach to security?

  • Strategic guidelines for India’s must shift from a threat-based methodology to a multi-disciplinary capability.
  • An outcome-based orientation to fit with the nation’s power aspirations.

4 most critical means to kick-start the transformation:

1. Creation of indigenous defence capability

  • Doing this without brushing away the short and medium-term requirement of selective imports will be the key to a calibrated march to self-sufficiency.

2. Leadership

  • India’s military leadership is very hierarchical and sequential in its approach.
  • However, this same leadership has superb operational skills and possesses a quick understanding of technology, tactics, techniques and procedures.
  • Consequently, strategic leaders need to be identified and their transition towards becoming more than mere executors of operational plans and campaigns needs to be enabled.
  • Multi-disciplinary thinking, lateral assimilation and a world-view are among the specific skill-sets that need to be nurtured.

3. Training and Education

  • Training and education form the next two silos in the process of transformation.
  • The US example: Several military officers at the colonel level — fresh out of war colleges and the university environment where they spend a year of education (not training) — are posted at the Pentagon and NATO HQ.
  • Here, they work alongside civilians, politicians, lawmakers, not forgetting their own joint leadership.
  • In such an environment, it is not difficult to mark, train and recognise talent in ways that go beyond the mere rank structure.
  • It is high time India goes down that road because even though economic globalisation may be on hold for a while post-COVID-19, there is going to be a flattening of the world from a security perspective.
  • There will be common threats that would need to be fought jointly by nations.
  • The three pre-requisites in these silos will be an amalgam of 1)service-centric and joint operations expertise, 2) operational acumen in a global environment, and 3) broad-based education that develops intellectual capital.
  • Training in the Indian military is top-notch and needs a little tweaking to help officers and men understand the rules of engagement in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world.
  • It is diversified education at all levels of leadership that is a weak area.

4. Jointness and integration

  • Finally, the silo of jointness and integration without losing identities and compromising competencies is an outcome that needs to be chased down with focus and determination.

Consider the question based on the issues discussed in the article “Strategic guidelines for India’s security managers must shift from a threat-based methodology to a multi-disciplinary capability and outcome-based orientation to fit with the nation’s power aspirations. Based on some expert committee reports, discuss the ways which the Indian military follow to achieve the transformation to satisfy the nation’s power aspirations.”


Some difficulties caused to the military due to COVID pandemic should be considered as an opportunity. It should be an opportunity to evolve a transformational culture in the Indian military. This should be based on clear political guidelines driven by existing and futuristic capabilities, expected strategic outcomes and anticipated strategic challenges.


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