Col Ashwani Sharma (Retd)


From horseback to fifth generation fighter aircraft, warfighting has come a long way over the past two centuries. Major disruptor in this journey has been technology, which has not only changed the weapon systems progressively, but also the concept, indeed the very ethos, of warfare. From Shastras to Astras, technology has made great strides, the most recent being remotely-controlled, autonomous weaponry and platforms. While space has been successfully added to the effective battle space, internet, as a means of war, has gained traction as human mind is targeted by social media wars. AI adds yet another dimension by way of autonomous weapons. Technology thus continues to determine battlefields of the future.

Status quo in military technologies is bound to have a deleterious effect on warfighting potential of a military. However, technology also brings with it sweeping changes, and while most militaries tend to resist change, it is no longer an option, it is an imperative!

On 01 Jan 2020, India took a step forward in this direction to create Department of Military Affairs, and appointed General Bipin Rawat as the first Chief of Defence Staff. Foremost amongst his responsibilities, is to transform the Indian military into an efficient, tech-intensive armed force, which will operate in an integrated manner; of course, with all the constraints. The CDS thus, has a difficult task of balancing the modernisation and operational needs of the forces with the available financial resources; of reducing revenue expenditure to fund capital acquisitions. Fast evolving technologies, changing ethos, and consequently the way we fight, add to the strain. It is indeed a tight rope walk for the CDS!

On completion of one year in office, we interacted with the CDS and got a rare insight on a range of subjects. I urge you to read the interview carried in this issue; it will answer many questions, which may be on your minds.

We also had the opportunity to speak with the Chief of the Army Staff, General Naravane, who too, incidentally, completes one year in office. He spoke to us in a candid, forthright manner. Interview with the COAS is also featured in this issue.

There are a number of other interesting feature articles in this issue.

I hope you enjoy reading the same. And before I sign off, here is wishing you all a Happy 2021!