IAF concludes course to brush up strategic thinking - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 28 June 2023

IAF concludes course to brush up strategic thinking

This 15-week course could be merged into the National Defence University syllabus, when that is fully functional


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 29th June 23


With India’s army already operating on the strategic plane across a 3,488-kilometre frontier with China and the maritime forces clear about their intention to become a “blue water navy”, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is also switching over its force platforms and senior officers’ training to a curriculum befitting a strategic air force that projects its power across the region.


Towards this end, the IAF on Wednesday concluded a 15-week strategic education programme for its senior officers to imbibe a deep understanding of strategy, rather than planning operations with a simple tactical outlook.


This took the form of a Warfare & Aerospace Strategy Program (WASP) – a 15-week programme, conducted under the aegis of the College of Air Warfare and Centre for Air Power Studies.


“The broader aim is to nurture critical thinkers who can blend cross-domain knowledge to generate policy-driving ideas at the strategic level,” stated the Ministry of Defence (MoD) today.


The WASP course saw eight IAF officers undergoing intensive training in the fields of strategy, military history, civil-military relations, higher defence organisation, aerospace power, information warfare, technology and hybrid warfare.


These are some of the elements that characterize combat operations today, as was evident in the recent Armenia-Azarbaijan conflict and is playing out in the Russia-Ukraine conflicts in the preceding decade.


Dominating the tactical and strategic battlefield today is a high level of transparency, digital communications and precision guided weapons during both day and night.


There is considerable interest within the military in this latest training package. The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari’s keynote address was attended by senior military officers, defence attaches, senior bureaucrats, aerospace power scholars, academia and defence correspondents. 


The IAF chief stated that “the endeavour of programmes such as the WASP is to prepare future military leaders in the cerebral domain… leading to the question of ‘how to think,’ rather than ‘what to think.’ 


Chaudhari said this self-learning would equip tomorrow’s leaders to think creatively and to continuously evolve strategy as the strategic environment changes around them.


“The air force chief stated that “emerging technologies would remain symbiotic with human intellect, necessitating the need to absorb and adapt with it continuously.”


Chaudhari said he was glad to note the performance of the officers who had undergone the first WASP last year. He said he was looking forward to these officers filling key posts in the IAF.


Finally, the CAS complimented the mentors who had guided the student officers through the programme and urged them to continue with the same zeal in the forthcoming WASP editions.


It is also likely, said senior IAF officers, that this 15-week course could be merged into the syllabus of the National Defence University (NDU), when that is fully functional. 

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