Future Battlespace and Need for Jointmanship

Vinod Anand, Senior Fellow, IDSA


Predicting future is always a hazardous exercise since crystal gazing is not an exact science. But one of the major functions of political, military or business leadership is forecasting and planning. Because without going through the estimation process or through the process of appreciating the situation as referred to in military parlance, one is unable to make workable and achievable plans. Militaries, the world over, are always accused justifiably or unjustifiably, of planning for the last war. However, there have been a number of military leaders with vision and foresight, who have disproved this cliché. While delving into future scenarios, use is made of past precedents, trends, events, theories and a modicum of intuition before arriving at a possible vision of the future.

Tofflerian theory is one such tool of prediction, which helps us in moving towards understanding the future nature of warfare. Warfare has progressed from wars between primitive tribal societies, to wars of agrarian age, followed by wars of industrial age. The post-industrial age is being termed as an era of knowledge-based information age warfare. The nature of war has a direct impact on the nature and form of the battlefield. The shape and size of the battlefield by agrarian age was limited and in the industrial age, it expanded not only in size but also acquired additional dimensions like the air and electronic medium. It is more appropriate to describe the battlefield of the future as battlespace since wars would be fought not only in air, on land and sea but also with space-based assets, on electronic fronts, along information highways and information fronts. Thus, future wars would be fought in diverse media and along many fronts. In fact, only the pace of technology, human ingenuity and imagination limit the scope of future battlefronts. We are already talking about information wars, net wars, cyber-wars, neo-cortical and non-lethal warfare.

The inexorable march of technology has had a tremendous impact on the conduct of warfare and battlefield complexity. New technologies have been used to create wealth as well as make war. The current transitional phase between industrial age and knowledge age is unfolding an unprecedented revolution in technologies. These technologies have not only given birth to a "Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA) but also have initiated a revolution in business affairs. It is also being visualised that "revolution in business affairs" would release adequate resources for meeting the challenges and opportunities of RMA. However, there has been a considerable debate in the western military literature whether it is really an RMA or merely a military technical revolution. Because revolution in military affairs not only connotes harnessing of new and revolutionary technologies but also evolving of matching revolutionary concepts, doctrines, precepts and practices. One such concept, though hardly revolutionary in nature, is the concept of jointmanship. Practising of this concept has been widely recognised as a vital contributory factor for success in a modern war. In battlespace of the future, where wars would be fought in many dimensions and media, practice of jointmanship would be absolutely essential for achieving success.

What is the meaning of jointmanship? The word joinsmanship is not found in the dictionary. The other words used to convey the same meaning are ‘jointness’ and ‘jointery’. The word jointness conveys the meaning of things having been forcibly joined together or structures with joints. Our intent and purpose, on the other hand, is to evolve ‘jointless’ structures that are seamless and facilitate a smooth prosecution of war. And jointery is another word, which is in the lexicon of the British military literature, though the Britishers do not consider this word to be particularly elegant. However, the essence of all these terms is an inter-service cooperation for synchronisation of all components of military power to achieve a common military aim. Jointmanship is characterised by trust and confidence, mutual respect for each other’s capability and cooperation, rather than competition. The nature of modern and future battlespace milieu makes it imperative for our armed forces to fight an integrated battle. In our context, the concept of jointmanship envisages the conduct of air-land, air-maritime and tri-service campaigns with a common military strategy in pursuance of our national security objectives. The Indian Air Force Doctrine lays down the following four essentials for jointmanship. The Army Doctrine also subscribes to these views. These essentials are:-

(a) Trust and confidence, resulting from sincere efforts to learn about and understand the capabilities and limitations that each member brings to the team.

(b) Operate on a basis of partnership and mutual respect for each other’s capabilities.

(c) Cooperation with each other rather than competition. It may be well worth remembering that the competition is with the enemy.

(d) Finally, joint operations involve using the right tool at the right time and not necessarily a bit of everything.

Technological Trends Shaping the Battlespace

Which are the technological trends that are impacting the battlespace and thus require the armed forces to generate co-ordinated, unified and joint response to meet the challenges of a modern and future battlespace? There are several such discernible trends, which are becoming increasingly dominant for conduct of warfare in the foreseeable future. Some of these are long range precision firepower, integration of systems, force multipliers and concentration of effects rather than mass and use of information technologies for increased transparency of the battlespace. A combination of these emerging trends imparts increasing lethality to the battlespace.

Long Range Precision Fire Power

The Americans aptly demonstrated the long-range precision firepower when they fired Tomahawk cruise missiles against Osama Bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and a chemical factory in Sudan in August 1998. These surgical strikes were carried out from naval platforms, passed through the medium of air, were guided by space-based assets and struck land targets. These missiles were procured from the budget of one service, guided by the assets of other service and contributed to land warfare and that too against an unconventional adversary.3

However, the quest for longer ranges and improved accuracy has always been present among the armed forces. Introduction of rifling in the 19th century extended the range and accuracy of individual weapons and artillery guns. The appearance of tanks and aircrafts around 1915 increased battlefield complexity and added new dimensions to the conduct of warfare. The battlefield expanded both vertically and horizontally. These developments had a direct effect on organisations, concepts, doctrines, force planning and methods of command and control.4

In the contemporary Indian context, the use of laser guided bombs by the air force to destroy enemy’s dispositions during the Kargil operations was not only a demonstration of the precision technologies, but also a demonstration of a joint army-air operation. The future sub-continental battlespace will be dominated by a wide variety of platforms and delivery means like the Prithvi missiles (both army and airforce versions), Sagarika and Dhanush missiles, Multiple Rocket Launching Systems (MRLS) like Smerch and Pinaca with increased ranges and accuracy, terminally guided munitions, precision guided munitions and improved tanks and aircrafts with precision capabilities. Induction of state-of-the-art anti-tank guided missiles, laser-aimed weapons, laser target designators that guide the ordinance to the target and development of smart and ‘brilliant’ munitions confirm the trend towards precision fire. This trend would place greater premium on generating synchronised responses from our multifarious weapon platforms and delivery means to achieve our military objectives. The element of time available for decision making by military commanders would also be at a premium. Therefore, the need to evolve cohesive, joint organisation and structures besides joint concepts and practices cannot be overstated. Thus, this trend indicates that jointmanship, which is very important in the present context, would become increasingly essential in the future.

Integration of Systems

The second dominant technological trend, which is the movement towards integration of various systems, is also referred to as integrative technology. The modern integrative technology started with the telegraph and railroad, two systems that when joined, changed warfare dramatically. Introduction of wireless communications and military aviation enlarged the scope for integration of systems. In the context, the fast-paced advances in communication technologies, computers, command and control and intelligence processing (C4I), have generated military capabilities to view the battlespace as a one composite whole and thus be dealt with jointly by all components of a military force in a coordinated and coherent manner. Inter-operability would be the leitmotif for the different C4I systems of our three services.

The Gulf War demonstrated many elements of fusion of technologies and systems, which contributed to the American success. The use of links between scout and attack helicopters, between Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar Systems (JSTARS) and various weapon delivery platforms, both surface based and air-based, between forward observers and indirect fire systems provided a quantum jump in system integration. In fact, Operation Desert Storm is considered a well-articulated joint campaign and is cited as an example of having achieved ‘true jointness’ amongst the different services of the US Armed Forces. The American military literature has not yet stopped celebrating their triumph in Gulf War, perhaps in order to exorcise the ghost of Vietnam. However, the lessons of Gulf War are very relevant to the Indian Armed Forces.

In our context, during Kargil operations it was felt that there is a requirement of improving inter-operability of the different communications, control and intelligence system of our services. With the technologies available now, it would be possible to establish a common command, control and information systems to gain synergies in operations. The Army is in the process of developing Army Strategic Operational Informational Dissemination System (ASTROIDS) which will be a C4I system between the Army Headquarters with various Command Headquarters down to the operational level of the Corps. In the hierarchy of systems, tactical, command, control, communication and information system (Tac C3I) has been primarily designed as a functional system for the field formations and is to function below ASTROIDS. Thereafter, it would be command information Decision Support System (CIDSS) at the levels of Corps and Divisions, which would be the hub of the emerging network that would be plugged to Air Defence Command and Reporting System. Offensive Air Support System, Battlefield Surveillance System and Artillery Command and Control System. 6 Needless to say that the development of such systems requires interfaces with the two other services at strategic, operational and tactical levels. The dominance of C4I systems in the battlespace of the future emphasises the need for adopting an integrated systems approach to the total electronic spectrum utilisation by the three services.

Battlespace Transparency

The third dominant trend of technology is related to the ability to obtain a real time picture of the battlespace. This encompasses technologies related with obtaining intelligence, carrying out surveillance, reconnaissance and also keeping track of own forces. The electronic means of intelligence and deception started developing during the mid-20th century. Earlier, detectability was limited to the line of sight, scouts, spies, cavalry and thereafter it progressed to balloons, field glasses and aircraft. The current battlespace scene, even in the Indian context, is dotted with advanced surveillance and target acquisition technologies like battlefield surveillance radars, mortar locating radars and various kind of surveillance radars and sensors available with the air force and the navy. We are in the process of inducting UAVs (uninhabited air vehicle) and gun locating radars. The use of satellite for military communication, surveillance and navigation is also in the offing, though some components of our forces already are in possession of GPS (Global Positioning System) based on satellites.

Thus these advances in ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) technologies are making the battlespace more transparent. It is needless to say that expensive and scarce surface-based, space-based and airborne ISR assets have to be exploited in a joint manner. There would be instances of ISR resources of one service providing information for execution by the weapon platforms of the other thus predicating the need for evolution of seamless joint systems.

It is the combination of these three technological trends, that is: improved battlespace knowledge provided by ISR, tremendous advances in C4I technologies and long range precision fires, which are the quintessence of RMA. And it is a joint architecture of our forces that would enable us to allot an appropriate mission for the appropriate force with appropriate ordinance at operational and tactical levels. Such a course of action would achieve an economy of effort. Technical and additional capabilities for our defence forces are being developed, though, in a very gradual and incremental manner. But, as we are aware, different services have their own compartmented and segmented perspectives. This trend is not only present in the Indian Armed Forces but also among a majority of the defence forces of the world including the US Armed Forces, which are perhaps considered an epitome of jointness. Joint defence planning to develop and acquire a range of military capabilities based on ongoing RMA should be the leitmotif to meet the challenges of the future battlespace. In the USA, the armed forces are moving towards a creation of a new "system of systems" which exploits their capabilities in the ISR, C4I and precision technologies. Admiral William Owens, the Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff writes "the new system-of-systems embodies a new appreciation of joint military operations, for it depends ultimately on contribution from all the military services, a common appreciation of what we are building, and a common military doctrine". 7

Conceptual Elements Shaping the Battlespace

The battlespace, with the impact of ongoing RMA, is characterised by increased lethality, multi-dimensional expansion of battle space, non-linearity and high mobility. Simultaneity of engagement and increased tempo of operations would be two other unique features of the battlespace of the future. In the American military literature, there is a mention of ‘hyper war’ and ‘parallel war’, which, apparently, are extreme manifestations of the precepts of simultaneity and speed of operations. And, as mentioned earlier, the most prominent characteristic would be increased battlespace transparency. These characteristics of the likely battlespace have led to the evolution of concepts, which require joint application, are suitably modified for Indian conditions and are likely to result in efficient use of resources available to our services.

Some of the important concepts, which are relevant to the battlespace with Indian characteristics, are the concepts of air-land battle with its future variants, concepts of dominant manoeuvre and ‘full-dimensional protection’, concept of focussed, integrated logistics and concept of information superiority and information warfare. All these concepts are based on a composite response from a composite force and thus move us towards the practice of jointmanship.

Air-land Battle

The evolution of the concept of an integrated air land battle commenced in the eighties in America. The basic tenets of this concept are to see deep and strike deep in close concert with the land forces. It stresses on manoeuvre and siezing of the initiative from the adversary and moving away from the attrition warfare of the past. Gen. Donn Starry of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, who was the architect of this concept, believed that it would be superior technology along with manoeuvre which would lead to success when outnumbered by, or when outnumbering the adversary. He was even convinced to state that nuclear weapons, especially at operational and tactical levels of warfare have become a non-relevant means of seeking political goals likely to be considered appropriate by the modern nation states. A combination of precision attacks from diverse weapons platforms can produce effects at a target, which are equivalent or better than battlefield nuclear weapons.8

The key ingredient of the air-land battle is synchronisation and integration of various elements of combat power so that their effects complement and reinforce each other. The intention is to fight close, deep and rear battle with an integrated approach and engage the depth echelons of the enemy to prevent them from affecting an ongoing close battle.

In context of the Indian scenarios, this concept of air-land battle was tried as recently as December 1998 in Thar Desert during Exercise Shiv Shakti. This training exercise was undertaken jointly by South-Western Air Command and the Southern Command of the Army. Besides the latest long-range weapon platforms and delivery means available, it is believed that satellite imagery as well as data from remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) was also used. However, the exercise also revealed some structural deficiencies in joint organisations as well as weaknesses in our capabilities of airborne surveillance platforms, secure communication gear and ability to strike deep. 9

On the positive side, the recently concluded Kargil operations displayed the joint army-air effort to vacate the Pakistani aggression. Inspite of the air force being handicapped by the directive to not cross the Line of Control (LoC), and difficulties of operating at high altitude, the air-strikes against the intruders, supply camps behind forward lines and air attacks on the forward objectives greatly influenced the outcome of the land battle. In fact, the use of air force on May 26, seized the initiative from the adversary, imparted a considerable freedom of action to our ground forces and was also instrumental in reducing casualties among our troops.

Dominant Manoeuvre

The next relevant operational concept is the concept of "dominant manoeuvre", which is an advanced version of the integrated air-land battle and is part of the "Joint Vision 2010", of the US Armed Forces.10 In fact, it would be seen that the concept of air-land battle is a sub-set of this concept for it is described as:

"The multi-dimensional application of information, engagement and mobility capabilities to position and employ widely dispersed joint air, land, sea and space forces to accomplish the assigned operational task. Dominant manoeuvre will allow our forces to gain decisive advantage by controlling the breadth, depth and height of the battle space".

Thus, this is an organisational concept which requires joint and synchronised operations to be carried out by air, land and sea assets to achieve a decisive success. This concept is largely dependent upon leveraging the effects on battlespace of the new and future technologies. This concept certainly holds lessons for the proponents of the joint approach in the Indian Armed Forces.

The concept of "full dimension protection" is again, basically a derivative of the concept of dominant manoeuvre and revolves around the classic and older concept of protecting own forces in the battlefield from all flanks.11 For instance, the flank protection to the ground forces is usually provided by armour anti-tank elements and while armed attack helicopters protection from air to ground forces is provided by air defence elements and air force. Protection in the electronic front is provided by improved battlespace awareness and tools of electronic warfare. In essence, this concept envisions an integrated defence system for protection of force in all dimensions, exploiting the unique characteristics and capabilities of each service and component of our military force.

Organisation as a Force Multiplier

It is normal to associate the notion of "force multipliers" with high-tech weapon platforms and systems that attempt to substitute "mass" and provide greater "effect" at the target end. However, there are various kind of force multipliers other than the high-tech systems which affect the outcome of a military contest. Richard E. Simpkin in his book Race to The Swift has classified force multipliers into various types and catgories which, include fighting multipliers, manoeuvre, logistics, doctrinal, human, organisational, intrinsic and extrinsic multipliers that improve the combat effectiveness of the force across the full range of military activity. While arguing in favour of the jointness, it is quite evident that the concept of a seamless and joint organisation would act as a "force multiplier". And lack of such an organisation would add to battlespace friction, fog and would act as a force degrader.

This takes us to the next operational concept of "focussed and integrated logistics". The information technologies help us to know, firstly, where an item is, secondly, where it is required and thirdly, the most efficient means of delivering it. An integrated joint logistics system would reduce the requirement of holding large single service inventories for common items and eliminate redundant processes. And during peace time, evolution of a joint approach towards development and acquisition of common equipment like ALH (Advance light helicopters), radar systems, missile systems and electronic warfare systems would lead to optimisation in terms of budgetary support research and development effort. It would also ensure inter-operability and commonality of systems thus leading to easy integration.

Information Warfare

All the concepts mentioned above have a large contribution from the new emerging tools of information technologies. These new technologies for acquisition, processing and synthesising of information have given rise to the notion and principle of "information superiority" or information dominance which is somewhat based on the analogy of air superiority and predominance of air. In the information era, the military strategy would encompass dominance of "information systems" as one of the military objectives along with destruction of the adversary’s infrastructure and war-making resources. The futurologists Alvin and Heidi Toffler have predicted that "the third waveform" of wars would be fought for the control of knowledge. They stressed on developing a national and military strategy that will include a clear doctrine and a policy for how the armed forces will acquire, process and distribute knowledge. Therefore, the contest for control, use and manipulation of information to achieve political, economic, military and other objectives would be the key objectives of information age warfare.

Though there are many definitions of information warfare available, the Indian Army doctrine defines Information Warfare (IW) as "A deliberate attempt to gain access to, tamper with and exploit information, and information systems of the adversary to own advantage; at the same time preventing him from doing the same to own side." 13 This concept encompasses elements of command and control warfare (C2W), electronic warfare, military deception and secrecy, psychological warfare and also covers information operations for media support for effort of our military forces. IW is a dynamic force multiplier, covers the entire spectrum of conflict and can be applied at all levels of conflict, that is strategic, operational and tactical. It can be carried both during times of peace and war. The IW assets consisting of ISR and C4I capabilities of each service, need to be dovetailed, based on principle of unity of effort. A joint response in IW effort would give us benefits of synergies in operations.

Battlespace Environment: External Factors

So far the discussion has been confirmed to the internal dynamics of the battlespace. There would be several external factors, which would singly or in combination impact the battlespace environment and have a bearing on the outcome of a military conflict. While the internal environment of battlespace is affected by the nature of technology, operational concepts and doctrines and geographical factors, the external pressures on the battlespace environment could be as diverse as political purpose, economic factor, international pressures, national will and support to the war effort, reinforcement of morale and the role played by media. 14A large number of these factors may require a joint approach and response from the armed forces, both, before and after the commencement of war.

During Kargil operations, while the effects of some of these factors could be clearly perceived, there were some factors, effects of which were intangible. The political purpose given to the Indian forces was to restore the sanctity of LoC. The political directive also ordained that LoC should not be crossed. This inhibited the air force in exploiting its full potential as it also restrained the land forces from carrying out the classic manoeuvre of envelopment of the adversary’s forces by crossing the LoC. However, the intent of the argument is that it was a common military objective given to both the army and the air force, which required a joint response. And eventually, it was the joint approach, which hastened the process of successful conclusion of the operations. It is also clearly evident that a good diplomatic spadework done by India, combined with international pressure, brought to bear on Pakistan to withdraw the intruders, had a profound effect on the outcome of the Kargil conflict.

Media also played an important role, which contributed indirectly to the results of the Kargil conflict. The television pictures from Kargil conveyed to the entire nation the resolve and grit displayed by our soldiers. Media also highlighted the justification of the cause of our effort to meet the challenge to our sovereignty. It reinforced the morale of our soldiers at the front inspite of the casualties, which in turn complemented the national will and morale. While it is accepted that media can act as a "force multiplier", at times it can also act as a "force degrader". Any diminutive dissonance between the services or a slight divergence between the respective service approach to ongoing operations in battlespace may have an adverse impact on the ongoing operations in the battlespace. Further, appearance of any schisms in political and military approaches to a conflict, when highlighted by media, could have a retrogressive effect on the operations. This was clearly evident on the Pakistan side during the Kargil conflict. This leads us to infer that services should not only be media savvy but they should have a joint and integrated approach for conducting media operations.

The modern battlespace would be increasingly affected by the resource restraints and budgetary pressures given the high costs of new technologies and modern military equipment. These concerns would need to be addressed during peacetime. Based on the military strategy which would be an important component of national security strategy, a long-term and sustained development of our armed forces is mandatory. However, as mentioned in this paper earlier, a joint approach towards defence planning and development of our defence forces would give us maximum "rumble for the rupee". We need to evolve joint mechanisms to decide whether a flight of aircrafts, a particular type of naval vessel, a flight of armed attack helicopters or a squadron of tanks would give us the optimum combat effectiveness value based on a common military strategy and a common vision of the battlespace. For instance, if objectives or interdiction can be achieved either by using a certain kind of missile or an aircraft, then there should be an established process to make alternative force planning choices. Another example could be, making a choice between an aircraft with in-flight refuelling capabilities for providing cover to a naval fleet at sea or an aircraft-carrier with aircrafts on it with its own strengths and vulnerabilities. 15

In the subcontinental scenario, the presence of nuclear weapons would inhibit the battlefield conduct of the forces operating therein. Though our military planners are advised to plan their objectives for conventional campaign without any inhibitions placed by the nuclear deterrent, yet the nuclear factor may limit the depth and duration of the conflict due to the fears of escalation to a nuclear exchange. Thus, the future conventional wars in the subcontinent are likely to be short and intensive which would place greater premia on joint operations to win worthwhile objectives. 16We will not have the luxury of long campaigns of World War II where the armed forces had the benefits of doing on-the-job training during the war and there was time available to evolve new joint prospects and practices as the war progressed and experience was gained. The focus in the future battlespace would be to shorten the decision cycles. The present single service approaches, in fact, increase the time frame for a joint decision cycle. A joint approach in planning and training for future wars and conflicts has to be a continuous and peacetime process. It should not be dictated by the force of circumstances or impending adversities in the times of war like the delay in employment of air power revealed during Kargil operations. Another important facet of the nuclear factor is the draft nuclear doctrine of August 1998. The doctrine points towards attaining a triad of nuclear capabilities built around ground, air and sea-based assets.17 The architecture of our nuclear forces is likely to have command, control, surveillance and intelligence structures with common interfaces and junctions between the three services. This points towards the evolution of joint structures for effective management of our likely nuclear force structure.

Moving Towards A Joint Approach

There is clearly a high degree of correlation between success in operations and practice of jointness as reflected in the experience of various armed forces. World War II offers us examples of successful joint operations like Operations Overlord which involved landing of a massive force at Normandy beaches under the over all command of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Gen. Macarthur’s Inchon landings in Korea, towards the closing stages of Korean campaign, were a true demonstration of jointness. In the current decade, Operation Desert Storm, that is Gulf War of 1990 also exhibited success due to jointmanship. Our first major success in war was in the Indo-Pak war of 1971, which could be quoted as an example of successful joint operation. The Operation Cactus in Maldives and Kargil operations are two other examples of success due to jointness. However, the degree of jointness achieved during our operations was largely due to the strength and proclivity of the personalities involved, both political and military figures, rather than due to the presence of any joint institutions, formal structures or a practice of joint doctrine. Indian armed forces need to frame a broad common doctrine, which would act as a basic foundation for the evolution of joint concepts at various levels of war.

A Joint Doctrine Needed

A doctrine consists of a set of fundamental beliefs, tenets and principles, which are based on the past experience. Collins dictionary defines doctrine as a principle or belief, or a set of principles or beliefs which is thought by its supporters to be absolutely true and therefore the only one acceptable. There is a wide acceptance amongst the three services of the belief that a joint approach is necessary to achieve synergies in defence of the realm. However, such a belief has not been converted into a formal enunciation of a joint doctrine of the armed forces. The Indian Air Force came out with its doctrine in October 1995, followed by the Army doctrine in October 1998. Naval doctrine, in some form or the other, also exists. These single service doctrines do stress the principle of unity of effort, inter-service cooperation and tenets of jointmanship. Though, there is some dissonance in single service doctrines on the concept of unified command, yet there is a fair degree of commonality (for instance, concept of ‘unified thinking’) which could be exploited to arrive at a via media for evolving a joint military doctrine. The joint military doctrine should naturally, be based on a common national military strategy which would, in turn, be part of our overall national security strategy.

Methodologies of Approach

One methodology for moving towards jointmanship is the current model where individual services are left to themselves to evolve their own precepts individually, based on their views of military and national strategy (apparently the national security strategy has not so far been well articulated formally and in an unambiguous manner) and based on the present joint processes, structures and organisations. Alternatively, the approach could be ‘top-down’ methodology whereby the defence reforms are forced down upon the three services, though, such an approach would be against the grain of Indian nature, which places great belief in the status quo and the consensus. And finally, the last option is that the nation and the sevices continue to wait for a shock or trauma of a defeat in operations, which could compel us to move towards developing a joint and integrated approach in the sphere of military endeavour. Obviously, the last option is the least desirable and the current model has not been able to impart adequate impetus to the process of jointmanship. Therefore, a discussion of the second model would be quite relevant.

Americans, after their failures in the "Iran hostage rescue attempt" (Operation Eagle Claw), Beirut incidents (of April 1983 and fall 1983) and Grenada operation (Operation Urgent Fury) pushed though the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defence Reorganisation Act of 1986 (GNA), which aimed at imparting a joint approach to military organisations and strategy through an act of legislation.18The purpose of this legislation was to minimise the dissonance between different services of the US and it contributed greatly to the unification of the US Armed Forces. And the GNA reforms were implemented much before the US forces went to the Gulf War. This piece of legislation is believed to have been largely responsible for the outcome of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In our context, Arun Singh Committee was constituted in 1990 to address the various issues afflicting the defence forces. The purpose of the committee was to take a holistic view and suggest organisation and structures for defence decision making, defence planning, management and financial control and management of logistics alongwith defence manpower and related issues.19 It is believed that very wide-ranging recommendations were made by the committee in 1991 and the same had been accepted by the then Chiefs of Staff Committeee (COSC). However, the Ministry of Defence had some reservations over the recommendations of the committee. The COSC was in favour of implementing the recommendations in its entirety rather than in parts. However, the report of the committee appears to have been consigned to the dustbins of history.

In January 1999, an attempt was again made towards achieving an integrated approach in defence matters, however, apparently, the passage of defence reforms stumbled on the roadblocks established by civilian and military bureaucracy. This was certainly a set back in moving towards a "Joint Vision" for the armed forces (a "Joint Vision Statement" of the UK armed forces is attached as an appendix for understanding their views on jointness). Nevertheless, even the present structures and planning processes have adequate resilience to adapt to evolving policies and procedures that would move our forces towards the path of achieving enhanced jointness. Though it will require a very concerted and deliberate effort on the part of each service and setting aside of parochial considerations for achieving a common goal.


The battlespace of the future would be vastly different from that of the past or its current version. The dramatic developments in technology are impacting the shape of battlespace. Though these technologies attempt to meet the challenges of increasing battle field complexities, at the same time, they also generate opposite impulses, that is, they make the battlespace more complex especially for the adversary that is not well-endowed with the modern military technologies. Though, it would be simplisitic to assume that a technologically superior force would always achieve a victory, it would be a combination of adapting to innovative concepts and precepts along with exploitation of the state-of-the-art technologies that would contribute to success in operations. The defeat of technologically superior forces of America in Vietnam could be cited as one example. Germans, exploited their concept of Blitzkrieg during World War II by combining tanks, radio communications and aircrafts into a joint lethal punch and went on to win many early victories in Europe and North America. The Allied nations had similar technologies and equipment, but they were slow to adopt new concepts; though eventually they did before they gained comprehensive victories.

In the subcontinental context the RMA technologies are being developed or inducted at a very gradual pace. Though the Americans are predicting a highly digitised battlespace by 2010, as envisioned in their "Joint vision 2010" document, this would not be the case for battlespace scenario of the subcontinent. The resources constraint combined with technology denial regimes imposed by the western nations and delays in indigenous development of technologies would be the prime factor that would inhibit the main adversaries to move towards a highly digitised battlespace. However, the concept of joint warfare, joint campaigns, jointmanship or jointess which was important in the past and more important and relevant in the modern battlespace, would increasingly become absolutely essential in future battlespace of knowledge-based information age warfare. Even though Gulf War of 1991 is cited as a paen in support of the concept of jointness, yet, paradoxically it was also instrumental in heavily reinforcing the concepts of Guilo Douhet, notwithstanding the pronounced militarily and technologically asymmetric situation prevailing between the USA and Iraq. The Americans are attracted to the concept of "victory through air power" and "victory through sea" due to their technological superiority, their need to avoid human costs of land warfare and geo-political needs of global power projection. 20 However, their levels of jointness/jointmanship do provide some positive lessons for the Indian Armed Forces.

The concepts of integrated air-land battle, dominant manoeuvre, full dimension protection, focussed and integrated logistics along with the concept of information warfare are eminently suited for joint application to likely Indian battlespace condictions. The battlespace environment would also be affected by diverse factors like political imperatives, fiscal pressures, domestic and international pressures and the role-played by the media. All these factors and considerations would propel the armed forces to adopt a joint and integrated approach towards security objectives of the nation. There is enough evidence to prove that wars cannot be won by air, sea or land power alone—it would be an effective, suitable and synergetic combination of these elements of national power which would achieve a decisive victory in the battlespace of the future.

Appendix to Future Battlespace and Need for Jointmanship

Joint Vision Statement

(Britain’s Armed Forces)

Success in modern warfare depends on joint teamwork. Battles and wars are won by maritime, ground and air forces operating effectively together in support of shared military objectives.

Joint operations are not new and Britain’s Armed Forces have a proud record of successful cooperation. In the modern world, where we will face complex and unexpected situations, which require a swift and flexible response, the importance of a joint approach is more critical than ever.

Individual units depend for their fighting capability on the training, discipline and ethos generated by their parent Service. But success for the force as a whole require effective orchestration of its individual components.

To achieve this, a single joint commander is needed, supported by a unified command structure. The joint commander must be able to draw upon and direct the entire range of front-line forces committee to the operation, together with supporting units and personnel (both military and civilian).

Joint teamwork does not just happen. It requires a shared understand of the roles each participant is required to play. It also needs mutual confidence, built up from extensive practical experience of operating together, that everyone will deliver his or her contribution effectively.

We must therefore ensure that a joint approach forms a central part of the way defence activity is carried out. This means closer integration in day-to-day training, in operations, and in the way defence is organised, supported and managed at all levels.

The future of Britain’s defence is in joint operations. We must therefore create an integrated framework which, while capitalising on single-Service professionalism, will be increasingly and necessarily joint.


1. Avin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War: Survival at the Dawn of 21st Century (New York: Warner Books, 1995). The theme of the book is centered on three waveforms of warfare and economic activity. First wave signifying agrarian economy and agrarian wars to control land, second waveform of industiral age wars for control of means of production and third waveform of warfare would be knoledge age information—based warfare for control of information. The recurring idea in the book is that ‘the wars will be fought the way we create wealth’.

2. Doctrine of the Indian Airforce, Air Force publication, October 1995, pp. 106-107. Also see Fundamentals, Doctrine and Concepts, Indian Army, August 1998, pp. 130-131.

3. See Raja Menon, "Lessons for India", Hindustan Times, September 15, 1998.

4. For a detailed discussion, see Vinod Anand, "Impact of Technology on Conduct of Warfare" Strategic Analysis, vol. xXIII, no. 1, April 1999, pp. 137-150.

5. For additional details on conduct of joint operations see Vinod Anand "Military Lessons of Kargil" Strategic Analysis, vol. XXIII, no. 6, pp. 1048-1049.

6. Manvendra Singh, "Armymen’s Combat Kit will have a Computer too", Indian Express, December 27, 1998.

7. Admiral William A. Owens, USN, "The Emerging US System of Systems" an article on internet site <http://www.dodccrp.org/dbkintro.html.>

8. Ricard E. Simpkin, Race to The Swift (Oxford: Brasseys’s Publishers Limited, 1985) Gen. Donn Starry argues this in his foreword to this book.

9. Shishir Gupta, "Key Cold War Concept is New Defence Doctrine", Hindustan Times, April 28, 1999.

10. Document "Joint Vision 2010" of the US Armed Forces, available on Internet <http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jv2010jv.Pub.htm>

11. Ibid.

12. See n. 8.

13. There is a plethora of information available on the concept of IW. However, this definition has been taken from a publication. Fundamentals, Doctrine and Concepts, n. 2. See p. 122. For a detailed working bibliography on IW, see Timothy L. Sanz in "Information—Age Warfare: A working Bibliography. Part I and Part II" of Military Review, March-April 1998 and September-November 1998 respectively.

14. Indian Army Doctrine avers that ‘In Future, not only must be commander consider the height, breadth, depth and time in visualising the battlespace, he must also consider perception of outside factors affecting it. International audience, media, rumours and disinformation affect the perception of people and all can be present outside the traditional four-dimensional battlespace. Hence, depth of battlespace in future is likely to have wider ramifications. See Indian Army doctrine, n. 2, p. 96.

15. See Vinod Anand, "Achieving Synergies in Defence," Strategic Analysis, vol. XXII, no. 10, Janaury 1999, p. 1501.

16. Vinod Anand, "Warfare in Transition and the Indian Subcontinent", Strategic Analysis, vol. XXIII, no. 5, August 1999, pp. 710-712.

17. Para 3 of text of India’s Draft Nuclear Doctrine, reproduced in Strategic Digest, vol. XXIX, no. 9 September 1999, p. 1440.

18. For a detailed discussion on purpose and intent of Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, see essays of Douglas C. Lovelace, Jr, August 6, 1996, on the Internet with the main title "Unification of the United States Armed Forces: Imeplementing the 1986 Department of Defence Reorganisation Act, 1986".

19. See Mahendra Ved, "Arun Aingh Panel Recommendations," Hindustan Times, August 26, 1991.

20. For American concepts of warfare and implications of RMA on aspects of jointness, see Brian R. Sullivan, "The Future Nature of Conflict: A Critique of the American Revolution in Military Affairs in the Era of Jointery", Defense Analysis, vol. 14, no. 2, August 1998, pp. 91-100.