ENHANCING MILITARY EDUCATION IN IAF
"The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."
Professional attainment, based upon prolonged study, and collective study at colleges, rank by rank and age by age-those are the title reeds of the commanders of future armies, and the secret of future victories.
-Winston Churchill, 1946
1. Education, in the military profession, is the process of culturing a person to the future needs of the organisation. This process of grooming an individual to suit the wide-ranging requirements of the system is of paramount importance. Airmen of tomorrow will have to undertake operations which are not just network centric but also knowledge centric. As the world changes at an unprecedented and accelerating rate, the concepts of war, peace, and conflict merge with each other. Humanitarian assistance, war against terror, insurgencies, and insurrections now occupy the centre stage for most armed forces. Success in any operation will come from sound training and quality education. Professional Military Education (PME) will play an important role in ensuring that the IAF transits onto a more effective learning environment. Effective PME will play a crucial role in the effectiveness of any fighting force in the future. There is often confusion in the pattern in which military education should be conducted and the manner in which the officers have to be groomed. IAF requires officers who are educated so that they are able to find solutions to the multitude of unexpected challenges that are bound to confront them in the course of their careers.
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2. Education is a continuous process. If any organization does not recognize the importance of education, it surely is not evolving. It is a 'must vision' for an organization like Indian Air Force to have its officer cadre strong in professional knowledge, flexible and growing in thought and imagination. Amidst evolving national security challenges, Professional Military Education (PME) has to evolve to cater for the demands of a more complex and technology intensive environment as we head towards our vision of tomorrow. In fact continued and comprehensive education program is indispensable to develop intellectual abilities amongst officers to undertake diverse missions in an intricate security scenario.
3. The aim of this paper is to analyse the essentials of education process and to give pragmatic and practical suggestions to modify the conduct of professional military education in the IAF, catering to the complexities of future wars.
UNDERSTANDING TRAINING AND EDUCATION
4. Training and learning are two different processes despite being associated with the same needs of learning. The concept of training is normally designed to acquire specific skills. These acquired skills make a person more employable and specialized in any profession. Thus training is more specific, more focused on a particular task and is for a limited period of time. Education on other hand is more broad based and is related to acquiring knowledge and enhancing intellect. It is a process of complete mental and moral development. The methodology of training is through specialized courses while education is a continuous lifelong process. Another glaring difference concerns the limited scope of creative thinking and prescriptive methods used in training. In the training process a person is introduced to right methods leaving little scope for original creative thinking. Education, in contrast focuses on creating independent thinkers. It is the process of preparing others to solve problems and deal with situations not yet known or defined. Military education focuses on the art of war and on developing insights on how to fight the wars smartly. It enables the personnel to perceive future threats, engage in creative ways to resolve conflict, select the right tools and methods, and achieve the desired effect.
5. In a complex and fast changing world, there is need for a comprehensive, wide ranging and all inclusive educational frame work encompassing an academic curriculum which trains for the certainty and yet is diverse enough to be able to educate for uncertainty.
NEED FOR A CHANGE IN EDUCATION PATTERN
5. Rapid advances in technology and easy availability of information dictate a serious rethink into the manner in which military education is conducted. Technology has revolutionized modern war fighting. Essentially what it means is easy access to knowledge and in general an increase in knowledge. In the days to come the entire art of war fighting will get technology driven at an even faster rate thereby increasing the necessity to educate and intellectually equip officers to keep pace with this change. In simple terms, officers will have to possess necessary intellectual skills to handle automated systems and exploit the plethora of information in the battlefield. In any case newer capabilities would mean newer roles which will require specialized skills and above all a mindset to change. A well structured educational pattern will play a crucial role in preparing officers to understand and face these challenges. Officers will require special skills to think, understand and articulate the effects of modern technology.
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The profession of arms presents numerous occasions where officers are confronted with diverse and complex problems. Teaching well thought solutions may help officers master some problem. However, the key lies in critical thinking which provides the tools for finding specific solutions for a multitude of unfamiliar problems.
Critical thinking pertains to a diverse range of intellectual skills and activities concerned with evaluating information and own thought in a disciplined way. The underlying principle is to be able to asses and understand information more comprehensively. PME in the IAF needs to promote critical thinking so as to enable officers to arrive at well reasoned decisions having evaluated the content, logic and human limitations and shortcomings.
One of the most challenging tasks of a well planned PME program is to produce imaginative, innovative, adaptive and critical thinking commanders. This will only be possible provided that the PME framework of the IAF is continuous, well knit and encourages intellectual growth. This would involve laying stress on the right subjects and choosing the most appropriate educational programs. At all stages the aim should be to
In this context, the need for education and experience are critical to the officers in the future environment. The modern defence strategy demands us to maintain a combat capability across the entire spectrum of conflict and we must do so in an environment of reduced resources being available for purchase of new high technology equipment. As well, the selection of what high technology equipment is to be purchased will become more important as we try and maintain interoperability with allies in the future. By selecting the right equipment and providing the education and training in the right areas our leaders can continue to be effective members of joint and combined formations.
Basic principles embodied in continuous learning include:
â€¢ Recruit the best and brightest candidates who can learn and operate in the future Air Force
â€¢ Offer effects-based learning opportunities based on learning objectives and outcomes. These opportunities
must be provided continuously to the Airman - before, during, and after service
â€¢ Provide career-long progression through deliberate education, training, and experiential opportunities to
enable Airmen to reach their full potential
â€¢ Present learning opportunities on demand - the right information at the right time - and assess its
effectiveness in achieving the defined learning outcomes
â€¢ Provide a push and pull system to make learning opportunities available when and where appropriate to
enable a sustainable military advantage
â€¢ Leverage operational competence and tactical expertise through timely education, training, and experience
â€¢ Development supported by leaders who internalize and visibly espouse the vision, values, climate,
motivation and behaviors that constitute the new learning environment
Developing uninterrupted access to Air Force knowledge for all Airmen will be the final
ingredient to effective continuous learning.
Critical thinking and problem solving skills epitomize the need for continuous learning. No longer will critical
thinking education be reserved solely for senior Air Force leaders. Advances in scenario-based virtual learning and decision simulation will mature and refine the learner's innate talents and experiential skill sets, as
Precision learning delivers the appropriate education, training, or experience at the right time and place, in the right format, to generate the right effect. Precision learning relies on customized learning, mass collaboration, push and pull learning systems, distributed learning opportunities, increased use of simulated and virtual technology, and enhanced use of visualization technologies. It focuses learning on the learner.
Precision learning will offer a variety of delivery formats such as text, video, audio, interactive courseware, and
virtual environments. A new generation Learning Management System (LMS), to meet learner needs and with
shareable content objects, will be part of the infrastructure to support precision learning in a secure environment.
important issues for Canada and provide a forum for discussion on proposed solutions. A quick
scan on the Internet will provide a plethora of articles dealing with every possible aspect of the
RMA and future war fighting.Keeping these aspects in view, some of the measures that need to be adopted at the squadron level with regard to the imbibing of the virtues of an Air Warrior are:-
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Awareness of the Concept. - To make the officers aware of the concept, all officers were issued with a card containing the IAF Code of the Air Warrior. All officers are required to carry this card while in uniform and understand its contents. In addition, to constantly draw the attention of all Air Warriors and even their families, posters containing the definition of Air Warrior need to be printed in various sizes and displayed at prominent places in the squadron. A team of few officers can be constituted at the squadron level to conduct regular lectures, discussions on Air Warrior concept and instill militariness.
Operational Tempo. Often while undergoing an squadron inspection, Op activation or any other hectic situation the pace of activity rises to a very high level. It is at this time that various core values of an air warrior such as competence, importance of duty, dedication, responsibility, service below self, excellence and a host of other professional attributes can be developed..
Joint Training and cross training. This is a very important aspect. Joint training activity always produces fruitful results. Similarly cross-training and utilisation in other branches would enhance the understanding of the intricacies of functioning of these branches.
Teaching of History of Air Force. Knowledge of the history of any organisation is very important to instill a sense of involvement and pride within the officers. Teaching of Indian Air Force history also needs to be incorporated in the squadron activities.
Effective Supervision. Effective supervision is essentially the responsibility of the seniors officers in the squadron. The key to effective supervision lies in one's ability to diagnose the environment. The handling of people's psyche may make the difference between a winning team or a losing team. Tools for effective supervision such as proper delegation, adequate involvement, motivation, fair and transparent functioning, personal example and empathy need to be kept in mind. Guidelines for officers at various levels of the squadron can be formalized.
Communication and Feedback. Healthy communication is an essential requirement in any squadron. Apart from formal communication, a healthy chat in the work place establishes environment for enhanced performance.
Introduction of Honour Code. An honour code for the officers should be introduced within the squadron. This code will serve to constantly remind the officers of their tremendous responsibility. This will also lead to mutual respect and foster a feeling of Espirit -de - corps where each one feels that he is a part of the team having a common goal.
An Air Warrior is not just a person with a military bearing. He is a soldier with character that sets him apart from ordinary mortals. The human resource policy on manpower utilisation is borne out of experience over the years. This is an evolving process, which changes from time to time, keeping the interest of the organisation in mind. Points brought out in this paper may have been discussed in various forums earlier and some of them may have existed too. A further study may be required to assess the implications of some of the recommendations.