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READING LIST

MARCH 2016 ISSUE


Lessons for all Military Commanders
 
THE UTILITY OF FORCE: THE ART OF WAR IN THE MODERN WORLD There is a sea difference between deployment and employment of military force. If a deployed force, however large it be, does not contribute towards political progress that the military success had anticipated, it is a wasted force. The utility of force, according to General Rupert Smith, lies in its correct employment.

This underlying message is the central theme of the book, ‘The Utility of Force’ by Gen. Smith who spent 40 years in the British Army and international commands before retiring in 2002. The book is not about conventional wars fought by states, but about the modern wars that the western nations have been engaged in. The writer draws useful lessons from Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland where he was involved in combat. In these wars, peacekeepers were pitted against non-state actors of various hues.

The writer argues that the military thought which only comprehends gains and loses is irrelevant to modern wars. According to him, “Our confrontations are political, and the desired outcome is of a political nature, which usually involves compromise, and so the military may not be best suited to attaining the desired results.” He adds that in these wars, “the relationship between the political and military strategic levels must always be very close, to the point of engaging in continuous reassessment and debate, which does not stop until the overall purpose or aim is achieved.”

Use this wisdom in Kashmir where the Indian Army with heavy deployment for counter-insurgency operations is unable to employ the force. The reason for this is obvious: In the absence of the political advice, debate, interaction and progress, the army, by conjuring up unrealistic scenarios, is using force with diminishing results. To know what needs to be done, this book provides exceptional insight into such small wars.

THE UTILITY OF FORCE: THE ART OF WAR IN THE MODERN WORLD
Alfred A. Knopf, USD 24 (also available on www.amazon.in in INR), Pg 415


— General Rupert Smith
 
 


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