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Indian Air Force concludes 15-week course to brush up strategic thinking

Dominating the tactical and strategic battlefield today is a high level of transparency, digital communications and precision-guided weapons during both day and night

IAF to hold outreach programme  for youths on Jan 24 in Gorakhpur

The IAF chief said that “the endeavour of programmes such as the WASP is to prepare future military leaders in the cerebral domain… leading to the question of ‘how to think,’ rather than ‘what to think’”

Ajai Shukla

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With India’s army already operating on the strategic plane across a 4,500-km frontier with China and the maritime forces clear about its intention to become a “blue water navy”, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is also switching over its force platforms and senior officers’ training to a curriculum befitting a strategic air force that projects its power across the region.

Towards this end, the IAF on Wednesday concluded a 15-week strategic education programme for its senior officers to imbibe a deep understanding of strategy, rather than planning operations with a simple tactical outlook.

This took the form of a Warfare & Aerospace Strategy Program (WASP) — a 15-week programme held under the aegis of the College of Air Warfare and the Centre for Air Power Studies.

“The broader aim is to nurture critical thinkers, who can blend cross-domain knowledge to generate policy-driving ideas at the strategic level,” said the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The WASP course saw eight IAF officers undergoing intensive training in the fields of strategy, military history, civil-military relations, higher defence organisation, aerospace power, information warfare, technology and hybrid warfare.

These are some of the elements that characterise combat operations today, as was evident in the recent Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and is playing out in the Russia-Ukraine conflicts in the preceding decade.

Dominating the tactical and strategic battlefield today is a high level of transparency, digital communications and precision-guided weapons during both day and night.

There is considerable interest within the military in this latest training package. The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari’s keynote address was attended by senior military officers, defence attaches, senior bureaucrats, aerospace power scholars, academia and defence correspondents.

The IAF chief said that “the endeavour of programmes such as the WASP is to prepare future military leaders in the cerebral domain… leading to the question of ‘how to think,’ rather than ‘what to think’”.

Chaudhari said this self-learning would equip tomorrow’s leaders to think creatively and to continuously evolve strategy as the strategic environment changes around them.

The air force chief stated that “emerging technologies would remain symbiotic with human intellect, necessitating the need to absorb and adapt with it continuously”.

Chaudhari said he was glad to note the performance of the officers who had undergone the first WASP last year. He said he was looking forward to those officers filling key posts in the IAF.

Finally, the CAS complimented the mentors who had guided the student officers through the programme and urged them to continue with the same zeal in the forthcoming WASP editions.

It is also likely, said senior IAF officers, that the 15-week course could be merged into the syllabus of the Indian Defence University, when that is fully functional.

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First Published: Jun 28 2023 | 9:49 PM IST

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