An Open Letter to Prime Minister Modi – from a Veteran

We are blessed with a smart & diverse readership. They are the ones that teach us and help us navigate through the macro issues we discuss. This week we heard from a reader with great expertise and deep experience in the area of military strategy. This reader shared with us his Open Letter to Prime Minister Modi. With his kind permission, we reproduce it below.

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Modi

Dear Sir,
It is necessary and vital that you appoint  General VK Singh as the Defence Minister. The reasons for this are manifold.  The situation has  come to a stage where anything else would be a halfhearted effort at addressing problems which have snowballed into gargantuan proportions. Consider the following:-
Indian Strategic Thought. This practically  does not exist.  In the last 60 years India has not devised any coherent policy towards a constant threat on the Western Border.  By the grace of God we had strategic thought  immediately after partition in the form of Vallabhai Patel and hence India is in the form that exists today. The only exception being Kashmir which Nehru handled on his own with disastrous consequences.  Since then Indian (Strategic?) thought  has been dominated by considerations other than basic military fundamentals. This thought has veered like a weathervane before every incumbent Government. Indians are today famous as people who snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Witness the negotiations post the 65 and 71 wars where all the gains were given away through a holier than thou attitude and chimerical dreams of  Peace .  Not involving the Military in basic strategic thought has led to some extreme situations. In the fifties it was Hindi Chini bhai bhai  with the inevitable disaster of 62 and recently the  mantra was “ economic engagement” with the  gift to the Chinese of   territory  the size of Metropolitan Delhi without firing a shot.
Warfare is an art  and it requires of the practitioner a lifetime of servitude, much like a  Shehnai maestro before the raga of strategy can be mastered. In the absence of  military involvement in formulating strategy the game is taken over by charlatans from the Home Office, Foreign Office and even Policemen.
Why has the military not been involved?  The  answer is simple.  For the last ten years the Government has been elevating Dancing Girls to the position of Chiefs Of Staff through the famous “ Line Of  Succession” where it is ensured that every Chief dances to the Government’s tune.  The Generals today know which side their bread is buttered and Strategy is not one of  those sides.
A civilian  Minister  for Defence not schooled in the art of Strategy will not be able to separate the wheat from the chaff put  forward to him by his civilian advisers  who themselves are equally clueless.  The most powerful  nations on earth today resolves these problems through infusion  of the military into government  at appropriate levels.  Witness Dwight Eisenhower as President and Colin Powell as Secretary Of State.
It is the lack of strategic thought that has led Mother India into the pitiful condition of buying the sword she holds in her hand  from abroad. A nation that cannot produce its own jet engine cannot aspire to any sort of  independent posture in the world. Why cannot this nation produce it’s own jet engine even  while it sends  a mission to Mars? The answer is simple,  It is much more profitable to the Politicians  to procure the engine rather than produce it at home  and hence the “mother  of all defence  deals”.  What a shame. The Service Chiefs quietly dance in the background.
India’s war Plans exist only on paper. Huge deficiencies ensure that they cannot be translated to reality. In the High tech  battlefield environment emerging today ( forget about Pakistan), Indian troops would be sitting ducks. Can one expect the National Security Adviser, presently from the IFS  to understand this?  There can be nothing more disastrous for a nation than a soldier who advocates the path of peace, stemming  from his own inability to ensure success on the ground.
The Indian Defence Establishment  is controlled, nay, ruled by the  IAS. The Holy Mantra of the IAS is “status quo”. Which Defence Secretary  is going to stick his neck out for, say, a bold offensive plan when he doesn’t even understand the mechanics of warfare.  Witness the delays in the  formation of the Mountain Strike Corps. Under the present dispensation, the Indian Armed Forces are doomed  to lackluster  performance on the battlefield. It is  not armies that win wars, it is Generals that wins wars. A case in point being Field Marshal Maneckshaw. Had he followed Indira Gandhi’s desire to attack in April 71 slavishly, it would  have been a sorry General stuck in the swamps that is Bangladesh in the “ Kal Baisakh” and monsoons.                     
India’s success on the world stage depends on a strong economy backed by military power, Theodore Roosevelt said it long ago “ Speak softly and carry a big stick”.

The Indian Army has suffered  from lack of initiative  for sixty long years barring a brief period under Maneckshaw.  The Army that terrorized  Hitler’s finest troops, the 1st Parachute Division and the Liebstandarte SS Division in Italy today cannot even find officers to fill its ranks.

Drastic situations require drastic solutions out of the ordinary business of governmenting. Let the General clean out the Augean Stables that is Indian Defence today  backed by the people’s faith in you.     

Your faithfully,

Rajesh Khosla

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