Guest Column - Force Magazine
A Case for Jointness
All three Services should iron out their differences for a stronger defence force
Lt. Gen. B.S. Pawar [Retd]By Lt Gen. B.S. Pawar (retd)

American President Dwight D. Eisenhower had proclaimed over half a century ago that separate land, sea and air warfare were relics of the past and future conflicts would be fought in all elements with all services, as one single concentrated effort. This statement was relevant then and remains more so even today.

Jointness can be characterised as cross service synergy in all stages of military process, whether it be tactical — involving direct planning and conduct of military operations, strategic — through the production of ‘joint doctrines/strategies’, or simply related to training, research/development and procurement. Joint operations are not simply a sum total of capabilities of different components of military power. Their role, importance and methodologies are highly dependent on the nature of war that may have to be fought and the doctrine/strategy that is pursued for achieving political and military objectives.

Time and space have collapsed in modern warfare — nations do not have the luxury of continuing to wage war for long durations. Apart from military, economic and domestic limitations, there is the coercive pressure of the international environment which does not permit much latitude. Therefore, the need to achieve strategic goals in the shortest possible time has become critical. The difference between tactical gains, achieved in a shorter timeframe and strategic benefits, which could take longer, has blurred with future conflicts focusing on the latter from the very outset. Added to this is the networking of forces which not only enables real-time sharing of intelligence and information between widely dispersed forces but also, if harnessed properly, permits the most appropriate and available resources to be brought to bear upon the adversary in the shortest possible time.

Old concepts of jointness based on cooperation and coordination between different wings of the military with tri-Service execution are no longer enough. There is a need to cement this with structures which are based on integrated planning and operations under one unified authority with responsibility and accountability. Such an institution will obviously have components of different wings placed under it, but these would be subordinate to it and not to their own Service chiefs - this is the requirement of modern warfare. The Indian system, in which these things are processed in a triumvirate fashion, is very unsuited to cope with the new environment. The desired and optimum results cannot be achieved if each service fights its own war, with only the so-called coordination being carried out as at present.

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