Civil-Military Relations- Indian Context Civil-military relations are dynamic Change will challenge the civil- military boundary constantly
Factors that have affected Social changes Advent of nukes Emergence of new technologies Terrorism & insurgency Utilization of military for aid to civil power HR policies, training and orientation of both sides Status of civil & military professionals in society Perception management skills of other stake holders Political guidance, leadership and parliamentary scrutiny
Eliot A. Cohen “Overall, healthy civil-military relations need a military with standards distinct from those of general society and a society that appreciates the need for the difference, even if it does not always approve of the military’s views”.
Admiral Sushil KumarFirstly, we do not seem to accept the fact that agap exists in civil-military relations. This islargely because the civilian leadership is notsensitised to military subculture and need toremember that a soldier is not just a civilian inuniform; he has a different ethos.Secondly, we still do not have aninstitutionalised framework for handling civil-military problems, and consequently neitherside is aware of the limit to which adisagreement is acceptable.
Concept of Civil Supremacy Supremacy of the elected representatives is laid down by the constitution and is beyond question In practice it implies pre-eminence
Concept of Civil Control Implies a series of imposed rules and procedures that limit the authority, jurisdiction and decisions of the military Amounts to managing, restraining, monitoring and influencing the military
Concept of Balance Balance is sought to be achieved by Encouraging professionalism Living by the tenets of the profession Sense of collective identity Responsibility to society at large and not only to a group High intellectual levels and education throughout the career Structures for management of national security
“Professionalism promotes mutual respect& supplements control by encouraging themilitary as well as the civil services to dowhat they do best”.
Military’s role in core security decision making structures and processes Distance between the apex military leadership from political decision makers Military prefers political control, the intervening bureaucratic layer results in ‘bureaucratic control’ Questionable strategic grasp of some of the generalist bureaucratic cadre Lack of special skills among service officers Professionalism has not promoted mutual respect Manipulation of service differences by civil services officials
Politicians are perhaps more comfortable dealing with civil services than the military?! Ministerial attention spans are of necessity are limited Frank and unbiased advice by the civil services on the military perspective lends balance and leads to better policy and decision making The ‘steel frame’ has not kept pace with time and change The bureaucrats, with a greater grasp of India’s developmental needs, are able to keep a restrictive check and not lead to undue militarisation
There is no restriction on the brass taking up issues with the political head They are represented in various committees The Chiefs are a part of the Strategic Policy Group of the National Security Council Invited to meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Security There are fears that – The military officer education and rotation system is not helpful in equipping the officers to run a ministry The role conflict may take place when the military-bureaucrat in an integrated ministry will be required to pass judgement on cases initiated by the parent service
Politicalhas served the nation well The system Perspective While not averse to change, in the Indian political notion, the timing is equally important While national security is crucial, an integrated ministry having strategic perspective could skew the developmental agenda Rebalanced relationship between centre and periphery means increasing domestic political constraints on strategic and defence policy- making
“ Strategic restraint has served India wellbut the debate between ‘prosperity throughpeace’, and ‘peace through prosperity’continues despite a political decision to gonuclear.”
Another perspective“Civilian institutions that held the military in check are weakening.The military’s growing internal security role has given rise toconcerns about the future of civilian control over the military …Today the core of the Indian state – politicians, bureaucrats, andthe public generally – have become militaristic … what we see iscivilian militarism. Politicians and civilian bureaucrats are willing to use forcemore often and earlier on increasingly through paramilitary forcesand intelligence agencies … India face a greater worry: the erosionof democratic civilian control over its men-at-arms, both the formalmilitary and other armed organizations”. Sunil Dasgupta in Coercion and governance: the declining political role of the military in Asia
In the changed context, lack of strategic direction from the ministry owing to its strategic incapacity cannot be accepted The IDS experiment has shown that officers have quite easily imbibed culture that rises above inter-service competition resulting in unbiased ethos Security challenges along the entire spectrum of conflict and for non-contact war further necessitate an integrated approach to national security with appropriate structural and process changes
Shift in public discourse Internet has created a new paradigmnew platform for interaction, voicing ofopinions and shaping perceptions 24x7 TV gives opportunities to professionals, retired civil services officials and veterans to espouse causes and create awareness Pro- active media employing innovative techniques Perception management is being practised through ‘selective leaks’ and friendly media
There is a sense that the balance is being damaged by the civilians The decision making processes are bureaucratic and insensitive Mistakes of the those in authority have been of omission some of even commission Military personnel, given their expertise, should staff defence ministry positions and positions in the National Security Council The militarys role acquisitions has been restricted The appointment of a chief of defence staff is in abeyance Matters relating to pay and protocol have been dealt with lack of sensitivity
Perspective Historical perspective –evolution through years Conflicts with neighbours and CI campaigns New structures have evolved More integration and reforms required Exposure to service officers through deputation and vice- versa Parliamentary scrutiny Public awareness and informed debates through :- Transparency in dealings & opening of historical records Encourage study of National Security issues