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Interaction with RCDS Delegation

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  • September 29, 2008
    Round Table
    Only by Invitation

    IDSA organised a strategic affairs workshop for members of the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) UK, on September 29, 2008.

    The RCDS group consisted of 13 officers from the UK and other countries such as Australia, Finland, Lithuania, Japan, Rumania, France and Lebanon, and was led by Air Vice Marshal Andrew Walton who is a Senior Directing Staff at RCDS. The RCDS is over eighty years old. Its mission is to prepare senior officers and officials of the United Kingdom and other countries and future leaders from the private and public sectors for high responsibilities in their respective organisations, by developing their analytical powers, knowledge of defence and international security, and strategic vision. In fulfilment of its mission, the College runs one course a year from January to December. An optional Master of Arts degree course in International Studies at King’s College, London, based on the RCDS curriculum and open to all, is run in parallel with the full course. The curriculum consists of: international stability, security and prosperity in the 21st century; the strategic perspective of the UK; contemporary international issues; leadership in the strategic environment.

    The seminar was chaired by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Dr. B.S. Malik. Director General IDSA familiarised the RCDS delegation about the IDSA. Three presentations were given – on India’s strategic situation, internal security, and developments in the Indian military by Brig B.S. Sachar, Ali Ahmed and Col. Arvind Dutta, respectively. Brig. Sachar provided a broad overview of the situation and India’s policy response. He also dealt with each neighbouring country separately highlighting the various issues. Ali Ahmed provided the delegation with an insight into the Indian Way of tackling insurgency and terrorism and gave an overview of each of the internal security problems besetting India. Col. Dutta dealt with the military issues by going over the structure and role of each service in detail. Vice Admiral Contractor, DG Coast Guard, who was also in attendance being an RCDS alumni, gave a short brief on the Coast Guard and its interface with the Navy and national security structure.

    The Q&A session saw some focused questions and comments. The first was on the Indian policy on internal security of containment of violence. Containment indefinitely into the future is under the threat of being overtaken by events and could lead to a problematic situation in the future. The questioner wanted to know how India would cope with such an eventuality. The second question dealt with India’s interest and involvement in military uses of space. The third was on India’s approach to China in terms of balance of power in the region.

    The attending IDSA scholars participated in informing the delegation on India’s position on the various issues raised. It was pointed out that if allowed to extend indefinitely conflicts could become exacerbated. India’s higher defence structure and its antecedents were outlined and the benefits of the committee-based structure highlighted. It was also brought out that there is an ongoing rethinking of geopolitics in China. On the question of space, it was highlighted that a cell has been established in the service headquarters and it has been tasked to look into the issue of India’s interest and involvement in space. So far, India has limited itself to looking at space only for peaceful purposes.

    Prepared by Ali Ahmed, Research Fellow at IDSA.