Military strategies lean on history, no matter how modern the technology. And much hinges on policy, culture and values of the region. Col Jim Craft would know. A veteran pilot from the US Air Force, he has spent an entire year learning eastern strategies and military thought at the National Defence College (NDC), New Delhi.
Craft, who’s also the chief of joint exercises for Pacific Air Forces, says strategies of any country are not uniquely independent. They put in place policies and systems that suit their interests, which include something they’ve learnt from elsewhere.
NDC offers a broad training programme for senior decision makers on matters related to national security. Among other things, it offers a 47-week course on national security and strategies.
“I was the sole US representative at the course, which was meant for brigadier-rank officers. It included civil servants from India,” Craft said, adding that his understanding of eastern strategies is now helping him develop joint exercises between different air forces.
Experts say understanding eastern culture and politics, which are extremely diverse, and moving away from Judeo-Christian values and western culture is key for western countries to understand how other nations react to situations.
“In 1998, I was commissioned in the navy to fly the P-3 (anti-submarine) aircraft, and I sought a transfer to the air force to fly a refuelling aircraft. To develop joint exercises with various countries, it is important to learn how things work in this part of the world, and India provided a very holistic course,” Craft said.DIFFERENT PERCEPTIONS
Defence analyst Commodore (retd) GJ Singh, while arguing that understanding the psyche of Indians, or Israelis for that matter, will aid the US in learning how different their threat perceptions are, said: “A lot of things go into a policy, and culture and politics play a huge part. The way we look at a situation is not the way the Americans see it.”
Speaking about takeaways from the course, he said: “The fact that there were people from the civil service background helped me understand aspects of governance, which is vital in building partnerships.”