Why Indian Military doctrine Should include both Sun Tzu & Kautilya?

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Synopsis – In a recent address PM has called for indigenization of the national security system including that of doctrines, procedures, and customs. This shift towards indigenization shouldn’t lead to the complete ignorance of foreign strategic thoughts.

  • A recent, PM address at the Commanders’ Conference stressed the importance of indigenization of the national security system, not just in sourcing equipment and weapons but also in the military doctrines, procedures, and customs practiced in the armed forces i.e. the Indian armed forces doctrine.
  • But, this doesn’t mean that India should reject the ideas of any foreign military strategist. A balanced approach is the need of the hour.
Evolution of Indian armed forces
  • Indian armed forces have evolved from the British military. Hence, they have absorbed certain legacies and war-fighting strategies from it.
  • Moreover, in modern times Indian armed forces have learned equally from their large-scale interactions with armies of other countries.
  • Training academies too have reformed with time. Professional military education (PME) is also upgraded after few years.

What is PME?

PME is the bedrock of military doctrine.

  • It is the fundamental set of principles that guides military forces. Being a flexible concept, the doctrine evolves over time. Post-implementation, the strategies in the doctrine are refined and streamlined.
  • It equips officers with the intellectual tools to analyze strategic problems.
  • Its aim is to shape leaders at most levels of leadership to be able to ‘think strategically’.
Professional military Education in India

Issue with PME

  • The major issue is that the up-gradation of PME is not happening consistently or with required diligence especially related to cyberspace.
Challenges and concerns
  • Indigenization is good, but there is a concern that while encouraging indigenous strategic thought, inputs from “foreign” writings could be ignored.
  • Producing a new indigenous doctrine at this stage would be challenging. Many developments have taken place very recently, such as: –
Also Read: Ultimate Military Strength Index
Global best practices

Military strategy doctrines of major developed countries in the world include lessons from diverse foreign resources, irrespective of their nationality.

  • UK Joint doctrine: The 2014 UK Joint Doctrine 0-01 starts with a Sun Tzu quote:
    • Thus, it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory is won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and then looks for victory”. This is timeless and not country-specific.
  • US Doctrine: Similarly, the US Army ADP1-01 Doctrine Primer commences with a quote of J F C Fuller, the British military historian,
    • The central idea of an army is known as its doctrine, which to be sound must be based on the principles of war, and which to be effective must be elastic enough to admit of mutation in accordance with change in circumstances. In its ultimate relationship to the human understanding this central idea or doctrine is nothing else than common sense—that is, action adapted to circumstances.
Describes Indian Military Doctrine
Framing the Indian Military Doctrine

Thus, India should also not emphasise for a military doctrine that is solely based on indigenous ideas.

Way forward

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When it comes to learning, it should not matter whether the source of that learning is national or foreign. Hence, PM’s address definitely didn’t mean a complete rejection of foreign strategic thought. It simply meant to also include the teachings of our own strategic thinkers in India’s military doctrine. It is true that indigenous teachings have not received proper attention in Indian military thoughts, but it would be equally illogical to exclude the teachings of foreign strategists.

  • Timeless wisdom, be it from Chinese strategist Sun Tzu or the German thinker Clausewitz, are equally valuable as Kautilya’s Arthshastra or Thiruvalluvar’s Kurals
    • Kural: a classic Tamil language text consisting of 1,330 short couplets of seven words each, or kurals.

There needs to be a conscious effort to ensure that the Indian military doctrine is not affected by triumphalism (delighting too much regarding over one’s success or achievements especially in a political context) with regard to history.

Read Also :-Wisdom at Wuhan 

Article The Indian Express

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