"War - Organization, in the 21st Century"

War - Organizing for, in the 21st Century


War/conflicts today - organizing the military accordingly - necessity for an Integrated Defence Head Quarters and a Chief of Defence Staff and a National strategy policy.

Quotations for consideration:

  • “The organization of the Army is dependent on the answer to the question - ‘What is the Army for’?” - Anon.
  • “The only defensible war is a war of defence." - G. K. Chesterton
  • “It is not the size, but the range and balance of capabilities within the Nation’s armed forces that are important. ‘Navy’s and Air Forces are about manning equipment, whereas Army’s are about equipping men.” - Anon.
  • “No Nation ever had an army large enough to guarantee it against attack in time of peace, or ensure of victory in time of war.” - Calvin Coolidge .
  • “In war there is no prize for runners up.” - General Omar Bradley .


As Tim Harford writes in ‘Adapt’ - any large organization faces a basic dilemma between centralization and decentralization. The way to resolve this issue is by thinking about information. Decisions taken at the centre can be more coordinated, limit wasteful duplication, and may be able to lower average costs because they can spread fixed resources across a bigger base. But decisions taken at the fringe of an organization are quick and local information will probably be much better, even if the big picture is not that clear. Most people overestimate the value of centralized knowledge, and tend to overlook the ‘Knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place’.

A centralized organization, however extensively computerized with all information centralized and analyzed, does not work well when confronted with a diverse and fast changing tactical scenario. Hence decentralization, allowing for rapid adaptation to local circumstances, is what is called for, requiring well trained, adaptable soldiers with the authority to make their own decisions. This decision making authority should not only be for tactical operations but, in counter insurgency operations also include discretion to fund local development efforts, etc.

Our Military, especially the Army, was designed and organized to fight World War II type operations very well and to a great extent it still remains so. The only concession we have made to the needs of the present time is the addition of a small Special Forces Capability.

Such present organization of the Military does not allow for the Forces to be properly organized, trained and equipped to be most effective in the conflicts they are likely to be called upon today. Here specialized Forces for specific tasks are more appropriate.

Of course we also need a Bureaucracy both in the Ministry of Defence & the Ministry of External Affairs that understands not only our own Military and its capabilities but also that of our potential adversaries both in their Military and Economic arena. Thus enabling them to act in such manner and build such connections, cultural, economic and social, as to reduce or even negate the very chance


Total votes: 0


I left Airforce 17 years back after completion of 34 years of commissioned service.I donot know what is happening now specially after state of art technology. The article is quite exhaustive and probably not indicative. Pl suggest your clear recommendations/suggestions after these long deliberations. I hope policy makers might be working on various methods/steps to be taken to reduce the cost as well as to strengthen our Defence.
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