Col Ashwani Sharma (Retd)


As we step into the new year, the first event of significance in the Indian Military’s calendar is Army Day. Celebrated every year on 15 January, the day marks the appointment of India’s own, and its first, C-in-C, General KM Cariappa, a legendary officer who was conferred the honorary title of Field Marshal in 2007. The Army Day also inspires the world’s second-largest standing army to live up to its glorious, honourable past and traditions, and more importantly, measure up to its motto – ‘Service Before Self ’.

Army Day prompts us to take a peep into our heritage. While the Indian military owes much of its structures and organisation and indeed many customs and traditions to the British, its fundamental ethos and raison d’etre can be traced back to its roots in the subcontinent’s ancient civilization from which it has evolved over centuries. Its guiding principles, the spirit and the abiding laws of Dharma Yudha run deep in the psyche of the Indian armed forces, and position them a cut above the rest. How else does one explain the courage, the bravery and the motivation of an Indian soldier who fearlessly sacrifices his life, who shies away from collateral damage and who accords respect and dignity even to the enemy’s dead. ‘Service before Self ’ is derived from this land’s cultural heritage and the teachings of our gurus and sages. For centuries, our ancient texts and scriptures have shaped our soldiering attitudes and instincts, which hold righteous action and duty as paramount. Indian military indeed stands tall among its contemporaries!

Here is also an opportunity to examine the technological landscape, which is forcing armies across the world to adapt. Changing technologies and new capabilities also warrant that we revisit our warfighting doctrines. This issue has it all for our readers.

General MM Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff, speaks to us on a number of issues. Heading the largest Army in the world, and the one engaged in operations constantly, is indeed an onerous task. Gen Naravane shares it all during the interview. In order to understand the massive drive to improve infrastructure along the country’s border areas, some of which boast of toughest roads and highest passes, we spoke with the E-in-C, Gen Harpal Singh – he shares some very valuable insights.

As you enjoy reading the first issue of the new year, I, along with the entire defstrat team, wish you all our readers a happy and joyful 2022.