As 2020 drags to an end, it is difficult to resist the feeling that one has been cheated of a year. Hopefully, the feeling will go away with the year and we can start afresh in 2021!
The November cover story has been inspired by Col David O. Smith’s book The Wellington Experience. While the book caused a minor stir amongst some veterans, who, while grudgingly accepting that there was some truth in it, regarded it as another evidence of the American condescending attitude—telling us how to do things right. But the larger view was that at least on one score, the book had hit the bull’s eye—Professional Military Education. There was a realisation that this was a long neglected area that needed both attention and intervention from the highest quarter. In addition to Col Smith’s interview and a brief extract from his book, the cover story brings together perspectives from the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy on PME, its criticality, neglect and challenges.
Though China and Kashmir continued to make news throughout October (and we will return to both next month), the biggest highlight of the month was arrival in Delhi of the US secretary of state Michael R. Pompeo and secretary of defence Dr Mark T. Esper for the 2+2 meeting with foreign minister S. Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh barely two weeks before the US election. The meeting culminated in the elevation of the bilateral relationship into comprehensive global strategic partnership, which essentially cemented the Indo-Pacific Quadrilateral Alliance. All this came for a price: Basic Exchange and Communication Agreement (BECA). India signed the last of the US foundational agreements. FORCE editor Pravin Sawhney deconstructs the signing of BECA and what it means for India’s strategic autonomy.
An important article this month is the Indian Air Force’s perspective on Chief of Defence Staff’s proposed Joint Air Defence Command. Air Marshal Ramesh Rai forcefully argues how this would divide limited assets and would compromise IAF’s ability to play an effective role in war.
Islamist terrorism once again hit the international headlines after a series of attacks in France throughout October. In a detailed commentary, we look at why and how France became the hub of Islamist violence in Europe and what lessons it holds for us. In India and the BRI section, we look at Indonesia. The Books’ section continues to grow. We look forward to more engagement with our readers here. And then there are our usual columns and news update. Stay safe.