Scholar Warrior : Expertise And Knowledge Sharing by Armed Forces Training Establishments

Issues Details: 
Vol 11 Issue 5 Nov - Dec 2017
Page No.: 
Sub Title: 
The handing down of knowledge capital
Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM**(Retd)
Monday, December 4, 2017

It’s a pleasure and an honour to be a regular invitee to Armed Forces training establishments to participate in seminars or deliver guest lectures. The quality of awareness of members of various courses is so high these days that one had better be well prepared for the interactive sessions. This is not alone the opinion of a hard core Army loyalist but of the numerous veteran diplomats, bureaucrats, intelligence specialists and corporate personalities who form part of seminar panels and deliver standalone lectures. Without a doubt,  the quality of knowledge I have come across in civilian training institutions matches that of our service  institutions.

The Lal  BahadurShastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) or Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA) are both outstanding institutions  I regularly visit and never fail to be impressed with. I even have post event discussions and guidance sessions with some course members, through email. A recent visit to Naval Academy, Ezhimala gave me an excellent insight into the new generation which will execute India’s future maritime security. The quality of questions I received at National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun augurs well for the nation. Army War College (AWC), College of Air Warfare (CAW) and Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), all which I recently visited displayed extremely high intellect. In fact at DSSC I had the opportunity to conduct a dissertation guidance session and came away truly impressed.

While all these institutions are doing yeoman service in preparing the next generation of leaders I am not so sure how much they are being exploited towards research, problem solving and innovative thinking. Knowledge appears to being an individual domain and not institutional. High quality individuals who pass through these institutions go on to contribute in their individual capacity to the appointments they hold and that’s about all. What they research and write at these institutions remains in their personal luggage or these days in their PCs or laptops where it languishes. A good six month effort is utilised only by a single individual, the one who did the research. The need is to share and share liberally as most of the research projects are unclassified.

If knowledge has to be institutionalised the first thing we need to look at is the concept of sharing. We need training institutions to have regular websites on the World Wide Web where the finer dissertations and area study papers are uploaded as distinct subject wise groups. We need links to all websites of other important training institutions embedded here and perhaps prize winning dissertations could be uploaded on the websites of all such institutions. I find institutions such as Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) and Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), which are doing such great work, insufficiently using the work of course members of different institutions. While so many seminars are conducted based on the work of research scholars within CLAWS and CAPS never do we find the winner of the Army Commanders Gold Medal from the Higher Command Course of AWC ever being invited to present his paper. I wonder if HQ ARTRAC has ever bothered to invite the medal winners of long courses to present their papers at any institution.

There is no end to the ways knowledge sharing can be done in today’s world. However I must share my idea and concept of knowledge exploitation too. As the Military Secretary of the Army I realised that we were posting officers from long courses without any consideration for the research work they were undertaking. These are the random ways that the Branch was infamous for. I wanted to kill that perception through demonstrated examples. We convinced the institutions through our most proactive GOC IN C ARTRAC of those times that they needed to share only the title and a one line statement on the dissertation being written by each member of the Higher Command Course at AWC and Army members at DSSC. Based upon that we could make a humble beginning in posting officers to appointments in which they could do justice on the basis of some element of their research work. As an example I can quote the case of an Armour officer who wrote on Employment of Light Tanks; we posted him as the GSO 1 to a brigade in North Sikkim. An officer of Higher Command Course who wrote on Water Wars was posted to the division in Rest of Arunachal Pradesh (RALP). More experimentation and refinement can make this system work beyond just demonstration.

As a follow up to the above the dissertation title of the research done by each officer at the training institutions was captured in his personal data recorded by MS Branch. This would allow an officer who can followed a common thread of subjects through the courses to become a reasonable expert in that field.

Ideally, the system by which College of Defence Management is tasked to conduct management study on a subject thrown up by the environment is a fine basic model for application in all other institutions so that studies and research conducted by the members of courses and programs are result oriented and based on the needs of the organisation.

The last issue which I am flagging only briefly relates to institutional research. Each training establishment has a core competence and a fine Faculty of Studies posted for the purpose of taking forward research in that field. The AWC is perhaps the best institution geared to lead the way and establish itself as a centre of excellence. Its studies and research should be such as to be virtually quoted as authority. Perhaps infusion of an academic element in the Faculty should be experimented with.

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