Letter from the Editor | August 2023

FORCE turns 20 years old with this issue. In this long journey we have learnt a lot, evolved a lot and hopefully have succeeded in shaping the perspective of at least some of our readers. Despite several highs and a few lows, including the harrowing years of Covid-19 Pandemic, we have continued to produce content which has stood the test of time. This wouldn’t have been possible with the trust of our readers and support of our advertisers. Thank you both.

For the first cover story of FORCE in July 2003, we travelled along the Line of Control for a week. Since this was the time when there was no ceasefire, we witnessed regular shelling by both sides across the military line. The Indian Army’s focus at that time was on Pakistan with counter terror operations in the hinterland and raids across the LC to hit Pakistani army posts whenever the opportunity came. After the 1999 Kargil conflict, the army had two options: to build deterrence (capabilities) for war to discourage the proxy war, or to raise more Rashtriya Rifles formations for internal stability operations. Since all army chiefs liked to leave a legacy, they chose to raise more RR formations, which suited the then Vajpayee government.

FORCE felt that the army’s decision was wrong since no insurgency with a sanctuary in neighbouring unfriendly nation has ever been defeated. We consistently wrote about this and spoke about it in informal conversations with senior military leadership. Some agreed with us, some disagreed. But what became increasingly clear over the years was that the army hierarchy had developed a comfort factor with counter insurgency and was reluctant to let go of it. Eventually, the internal security bug rubbed-off on the Indian Air Force also, with the service asking the government for a role in counter insurgency operations. The navy was willy-nilly pulled into coastal security after the 26 November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. But as the US came closer to India and made it clear that its primary interest was maritime cooperation between the two nations, the navy managed to extricate itself from the brown waters of the coast to look at the blue expanse of the Ocean.

Over time our editorial focus expanded too, as challenges, internal and external looked poised to coalesce into a seamless national security threat. With foreign policy becoming critical to how India projects itself and how the world views it, a discourse on it became integral to our editorial, making FORCE a comprehensive magazine on national security and defence.

The 20-year long journey of FORCE has captured these turning tides. A glimpse of these can be had from our website, where we have been building a digital archive. We have also expanded our social media presence, with an active channel on YouTube, a handle on Twitter and pages on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you once again for being part of this journey. To the next 20 years!



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