1. ‘Perception Management’ is the art of shaping up the public opinion of a target audience in coherence with the overall national, political and military objectives as defined by a nation state’s policy on international relations. ‘Public Diplomacy’ is a major component of the ‘Perception Management’ strategy besides ‘Public Information’, ‘Information Operations’ and ‘Psychological Operations’, the last being the only defined tool in the realms of diplomacy in the military domain. In the post cold war world the role of diplomacy has visibly changed and expanded in the face of far more unstable international conditions. This is partly because of the emergence of complex relationships between a large number of power centres, including nation states, states run by military forces, United Nations Organisation, Non Governmental Organisations as well as non-state actors. These developments are adding to the machinery of diplomacy and modifying the established character of diplomacy in significant ways. The scope of diplomatic practice has grown to adapt to the changing needs of changing international environments. It is evident in the contemporary world order that the diplomatic techniques have altererd in response to new needs and it is of paramount importance that India too, as an aspirant world power, restructures its ‘Perception Management’ campaign by adapting to the contemporary needs of the changing environments in the international relations. While ‘Military Diplomacy’ is a new dimension to a nation’s diplomatic efforts, India is still lacking in using this critical tool of state-craft in pursuance of its overall national objectives. METHODOLOGY STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM 2. It is felt that Military Diplomacy in Indian context is being exercised with shallow understanding of the subject and its implementation by Indian higher echelons is a stand-alone effort without judiciously utilising all the resources available within the Indian military system. This study seeks to highlight the missing link in the overall scheme of Indian Military Diplomacy, that there is a need to inculcate an understanding at the joint services’ level to appreciate the growing importance of military diplomacy at the lower levels in armed forces across the world, and tap vast potential available in the Indian system that is presently being under-utilised. HYPOTHESIS 3. A top-down approach in implementing military diplomacy can not in itself achieve the larger aim of an effective and credible national military diplomatic effort. Higher level military diplomacy needs to be complemented at lower levels also to include lower echelons of military ambassadors to achieve the desired national objectives. JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY 4. After the two World Wars, the wars of Iraq-Iran, the Vietnam War and the Arab Israel wars, there was a lull at the international stage for some years and only the cold war ensued. The end of cold war brought some limited wars into focus like Chechnya conflict, Georgian war, Kargil war, Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict, Invasion of Kuwait and Global War on Terror (GWOT). With these military and semi-military confrontations, the military aspects of diplomacy are gaining significance. International powers like the USA, France, UK, Germany and Australia have embarked on using military as an indispensible tool in the overall perception management operations by specialising cadres in the military ranks to perform the said role. China and Pakistan have also been noticeably leveraging their national policies with a well structured Defense Diplomacy campaign. Though India is also on board the initiative, however, present understanding of Indian Military Diplomacy and its implementation is only broad based and not total without effectively employing and integrating the potential available at lower echelons of military hierarchy also. 5. Immediate Relevance of the Problem. It is felt that a large pool of human resource within the three services in the Indian defense forces presently goes untapped towards contributing in the overall implementation of military diplomacy in the contemporary scenario. There is a felt need to focus on the issue, research on any existing policy guidelines or mechanism to unify the overall effort in this direction to include selection criteria and training of military diplomats, and arrive at recommendations by way of creating a structure and mechanism in our organisation so as to optimally channelise the available potential within the defense forces towards a planned and well defined perception management campaign at the national level. 6. Essence of The Subject. (a) State craft is no longer the privilege of only politicians and bureaucrats. In the contemporary geo-strategic environment, it is equally relevant to all Official State Ambassadors, irrespective of their level. The sphere of influence of a lower echelon military ambassador would be limited in scope, but is more informal and would in effect be more intense and specific to a particular community. (b) Deployment of large military human resource abroad on official assignments with no defined military aim is a futile exercise and wastage of a potent tool of practicing state craft. Realistic thinking indicates that âÃ¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œFriendships cannot be thrust upon or pushed down, but friends can push-up betterment of overall relations.” In the prevalent global order marred with numerous and frequent military confrontations amongst states and equally among states and non-state actors, military diplomacy is one tool that can assist in achieving a higher degree of understanding amongst the affected sides and preclude or limit military stand-offs. (c) Manoeuvring the minds of the adversaries is a known form of military conduct. However, in the new world order, it is the art of influencing and shaping the perceptions of the neutral world community as well that would fall in the realms of manoeuvristic ethos of the militaries. As an aspirant global power and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, it is imperative that India puts its best foot forward in shaping the world opinion in its favour in all perspectives. Military per se, is a far reaching and most effective tool in conduct of such a Perception Shaping Campaign by the virtue of its multifarious engagement capability of the international community at all levels of hierarchy. SCOPE 7. This study concentrates on highlighting the incomplete implementation of military diplomacy in the Indian context with a view to bring out recommendations to ameliorate the overall structure, process and mechanism to unify the approach towards achieving the desired national and military objectives. METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION 8. The subject in reference is understood to have not been addressed by many renowned writers or defense analysts in any dedicated books. The process of collection of data would hence be more inclined towards ‘non-documentary’ sources to include views of individuals with expertise or experience on the subject and institutional / organisational feedbacks. 9. Notwithstanding the above stated limitations, the subject research would encompass the following. (a) Books on Indian Foreign Policy and Diplomacy of India. (b) Reference from Indian Military / Army Doctrine (unclassified portion only). (c) Articles on the subject on internet. (d) Interaction with civilian / defense experts on the subject. (e) Interaction with individuals with experiences in relation with the study. (f) Feedbacks from Governmental offices / organisations and military branches / directorates (open sources only). (g) Perspectives of foreign student officers attending DSSC 66 course. (h) Defense magazines / journals. 10. Research Cycle. The following issues will be considered during the research and appropriately streamlined to prove / disprove the proposed hypothesis. (a) Changing geo-strategic scenario and India’s increasing role in the world order. (b) Role of Indian Military to support National aims / objectives, or exert the will of the nation. (c) What is being achieved and what are the shortcomings of present Military involvement in overall national defense diplomacy design. (d) Higher echelons / political leaders influence the public opinion of their peoples, however it is by a feed and eat approach. The populace does not form its own opinions to the extent of influencing the outcome of a nation’s attitude towards a subject country, in this case, India. (e) As India looks into the future into next two decades or so, she sees a glimpse of a potential geo-strategic power poised to shaping up the world opinion. To do so, the efforts to channelize world opinion in our favour must be oriented towards an all encompassing approach to include a top-down, a bottom-up as also a lateral engagement of the world’s diaspora. (f) Military continues to be pivotal in formulating national responses in the foreseeable future, and hence it becomes even more important to plan and execute shaping up the military opinion the world over in our favour right from now on. (g) It is natural that the Captains of today will be the Generals of tomorrow. A favourable opinion towards India built in today, will pay rich dividends when it would matter the most in the times to come. (h) Role of Indian Armed Forces & interactions with the international Military components in various forums as follows:- (i) UN Missions (as Military Observers (MILOBs), Staff Officers (SOs), Military Contingents and on civilian staff vacancies.) (ii) Foreign training exchange programs to include Military Training Teams and Military courses. (iii) Deputations as Military or Defense Attaches (MAs / DAs). (iv) Multinational / Bilateral Military Exercises. (v) Training Visits or observer exchange programs to / from friendly foreign countries. (vi) Equipment trials during new military hardware acquisitions. (vii) Joint participation in humanitarian assistance missions like Tsunami relief. (viii) Multi-national operations like anti-piracy operations. (ix) World Military Games meets. (x) Strategic level military conferences / forums like IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium). (xi) Nepalese contribution to IA. (xii) Military Martial Music Exchange Programs. (j) Convictions on Present Status of Indian Military Diplomacy in Lower Echelons. (i) Vast Indian military resource being deputed / employed without any dedicated thought / foresight in the future. (ii) Selection procedure for important foreign missions / assignments and preparation for appointments / roles not streamlined to meet national and military diplomatic objectives. (iii) Superficial handling of the matter by all concerned at the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defense (IHQ of MOD) and non-accountability of officers or personnel on foreign assignments towards their contribution to the overall system during their tenures. (iv) Foreign assignments more focused and sought for personal financial gains and not oriented towards a national diplomatic effort. (v) Presently, individualistic approach is predominant in whatever lower level military diplomatic interactions take place at various forums. No dedicated thought or effort goes into addressing a particular nation’s community as a whole at lower level military interactions. No unified policy guides such good opportunities which are mostly informal yet influential, albeit sometimes would pay dividends after considerable period of time. (vi) Presently, no institutionalised training is imparted to handle such diplomatic opportunities by our lower level ambassadors. No objectives are defined by higher offices that should guide our actions when on such assignments. (vii) Despite a huge military diaspora from India contributing all over the globe as also when not being available for in country military service, this potential still remains untapped and non-channelized primarily because of the following. (aa) No defined policy / doctrine on the subject. (ab) No structure / mechanism in place to do the needful. (ac) Such a role not chartered to any existing organisations / military branch / directorate. (ad) Selection for assignments, and post employment not synchronous. (ae) Briefings & debriefings by selected few desks in Military Intelligence (MI) / Service Duties (SD) Directorates usually a formality. (viii) System of time bound foreign assignment bans is purely mathematical and has merits and demerits in the existing practical aspects, however, for military diplomacy, non availability of an experienced person for a follow up assignment could actually prove detrimental to the larger scheme of things. CHAPTERISATION 11. It is proposed to study the subject in the following manner. (a) Chapter-I. Introduction. (b) Chapter-II. Trace the advent of Military Diplomacy. (c) Chapter-III. Scope of exercising Military Diplomacy as part of overall National Diplomatic effort. (d) Chapter-IV. Various tools available to practice Military Diplomacy. (e) Chapter-V. Relevance of Military Diplomacy in Indian context and present status of implementation. (f) Chapter-VI. Present Status of Military Diplomacy at ‘Lower Echelons’. (g) Chapter-VII. Structures, processes and mechanisms required to address the issue. (h) Chapter-VIII. The way forward in the future. (j) Chapter-IX. Recommendations. (k) Chapter-X. Conclusion. CONCLUSION 12. There is certainly a need to address the issue of channelising the foreign assignees from the defense forces to perform their duties in accordance with a well defined policy / doctrine dictated by the overall national and military objectives. Military ambassadors at various levels serve as best tool to exercise military diplomacy and to shape up the international opinion in our nation’s favour by reaching the roots of a foreign military and delivering the essence of India’s correct perspective. Practicing Military diplomacy should not be restricted only to higher echelons of political, diplomatic and military chairs, but should become a part and parcel of all state actors in whatever capacity they represent the nation state. Practicing state craft must become second nature to all military personnel in India and Military Diplomacy a common subject of mutual understanding.
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