Joint Training Doctrine Of The Indian Armed Forces

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It is a well-known fact that modern wars cannot be won by a single service. Entire world is moving towards joint operations. Early examples of organising the armed forces for joint operations are the Theatre commands of the United States of America. China announced in November 2015 that she is converting the seven military regions that she had into five joint theatre commands. What China is going to realise is that it is easy to create joint theatre commands but it is very difficult to staff them with personnel trained in joint operations. It takes a long time to train personnel to think of, plan and execute joint operations. Since India has been fighting wars mainly on ground, land operations dominated all war fighting. In 1962 war with China, Indian Air force was not used at all, due to the fear that it will escalate the war. It made one of India’s former Air Force Chiefs to remark, “If Indian air force was used in the 1962 war, the result would have been different”. In 1965 and 1971 wars Indian Air force played an important role. Indian Navy proved its mettlealong with the army and the air force in the 1971 war. India established the first tri service command in the form of Andaman & Nicobar Command in 2001. However, like in the armed forces of all countries individual service interestscame into play. As a consequence, the status of this command leaves much to be desired. Strategic Forces Command, another tri services command was established later. Since it has a specific role to play and has the oversight of powers that be, it has acquitted itself well. It is high time that the Indian armed forces start thinking and work seriously towards achieving joint operations capability first and then graduate to integrated operations.

It is in this background that India’s first Joint Training Doctrine was released on 14 November 2017. Though such a doctrine should have been thought of much earlier it is better than never. Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) should be complimented for this effort.

Joint Training Doctrine comprises of six chapters. First chapter deals with “Approach to Joint Training”. This chapter enunciates the vision as,“Training of defence personnel (including those from Friendly ForeignCountries) for an all-round and balanced development in basic, tactical/operational, joint planning and organisational aspects etc. to achieve Synergy of effortacross the entire spectrum of conflict, in keeping with the Military Aims of National Security”.In addition it also covers the issues of inter service camaraderie, cost effectiveness and resource management, synergy that needs to be brought in technological and operational orientation in training, evaluation of training, self-study and self-development.

The second chapter titled “Objectives and Classification of Joint Training” lays down the objectives of joint training, explains the lead service concept (one of the three services is nominated as lead service for a particular operation. For example for amphibious operations navy will be lead service. For an airborne operation air force may be the lead service etc),and individual and collective training.

The third chapter “Organisation, Planning and Conduct” explains how the Doctrine and Training branch of IDS will be responsible for Individual Training and its Operations branch will be responsible for Collective and operational training. This chapter also explains the role of each service’s training command, and the Armed Forces Training Institutes, Joint Think Tanks and Indian National Defence University. Further, it gives out the broad frame work of Individual and Collective/Operational Training.

“Training in Intelligence” is the fourth Chapter. This chapter looks at synergy in intelligence training and inter-operability.

Fifth Chapter describes how training of personnel from friendly foreign countries can be used as an instrument of diplomacy and is aptly titled “Training – An Instrument of Diplomacy”. In this chapter the aspects of our armed forces personnel to be trained in foreign countries, personnel from friendly Foreign countries being trained in our country and joint exercises with other countries are given. How to leverage them for diplomacy and inter-operability has been discussed in this chapter.

The last chapter, “Civil Military Interface”, covers training of armed forces personnel in civil institutions, training of Central Armed Police Force Personnel and government officials in armed forces training institutions, Combined Operational Review and Evaluation Programme and Accreditation with Civil Education Institutions.

This Doctrine has been published with a caveat that it is the first effort and will be revised after it is tried out and getting inputs from the environment. It will be a wise move to do so.

It is a no brainer to say that the publication of the Joint Training Doctrine is a step in the right direction. Including the training of personnel of friendly foreign countries indicates that India is a leading power in the region and emphasises the need for inter-operability between the armed forces of the countries in this region. Lead service concept is a good approach and it brings clarity in training for a particular type of operation. Synergised approach to training in intelligence is the need of the hour.

However, the doctrine does not take into account the fact that a number of vacancies allotted to civilian government officers go unutilised. The apprehension of the civilian officers to do courses in armed forces training institutions needs to be overcome. To be fair, it is pertinent to mention that some civil officers do the course in Defence Services Staff College and National Defence College.

The Joint Training Doctrine as and when revised should address the requirement of starting the joint training for officers of all three services from their early years in service. The present trend of commencing the joint training from the levels of Higher Command and its equivalent courses is grossly inadequate.

Lastly, but most importantly, this doctrine will be only as good as its implementation. As they say, “proof of the pudding is in eating it”. In India we have a lot of rules, regulations, doctrines, committee reports etc. But the implementation is nothing much to write home about. We need to ensure that this doctrine is implemented in letter and spirit so that our armed forces can come out with flying colours in any future operations that they have to undertake.

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