Every February or March when I drive up from the plains of Coimbatore to the Nilgiri Hills and into the spotlessly clean campus of the Defence Services Staff College, I realize how this premier tri-Services training institution epitomises the crème de la crème of joint training military institutions in the world.
DSSC: The cradle of tri-services jointmanship
September 11, 2016
Starting this week, I am going to write about different training establishment of the three armed forces that I visit throughout the year for guest lectures. They have glorious traditions, major accomplishments nd a vital role to play in shaping the top future military leadership. I start with the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC).
The Staff College, since its inception, has undoubtedly been the fountainhead of learning and military scholastic excellence in India. In my nearly decade-long association with DSSC as a visiting faculty—sharing my thoughts on military and media—the sharpest queries and most critical comments have come from the best and the brightest of the three services who get into this prestigious course through a competitive exam.
I have witnessed the College providing an invigorating environment for developing the ability for analytical thinking, creative and intellectual ability, ingenuity and innovative methids. In doing so, DSSC has reaffirmed its commitment to the noble traditions of the Services, while advancing the core values of ‘Duty, Honour and Country’in the leadership of Indian Armed Forces. These aspects are well summed up in College motto ‘Yuddham Pragyaya’, meaning ‘To War with Wisdom’.
It was therefore fitting to hear President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the colours last week in a glittering function. Presentation of colours is by one of the greatest honours bestowed upon an institution in recognition of exceptional service rendered to the nation. Speaking on the occasion, he said the college provides a stimulating environment for “analytical thinking towards creativity and intellectualism”. Founded in 1905 as the Army Staff college in Deolali near Mumbai, it was relocated to Quetta (now in Pakistan). “Post its relocation from Quetta to Wellington in 1948, the Defence Services Staff College has emerged as the premier Tri-Service Institution in the country, and today it epitomises ‘Military Academic Excellence’,” the President said. “The Staff College, founded on the pillars of ‘jointmanship and military leadership’, has played an instrumental role in enhancing the professional capabilities of the officers of the three Services to face the future challenges,” Mukherjee said. He said most critical and sensitive leadership in all the wars has been provided by the alumni of this very “fountainhead of military learning.”
Historically, excellence in command and staff functions has always been the cornerstone of success on the battlefield. The aim of the 45 week long annual Staff Course conducted at the DSSC is to train and educate selected officers of the three Services for command and staff functions in peace and war, in their own Service and inter-Service environment. Whilst numerous institutions of each Service such as Army, Navy and Air Force exist worldwide to fulfil this role, DSSC is a unique institution in India and among the very few in the world which is truly ‘joint’ in nature and provides professional military education for officers of all three Services together.
The curriculum of the Staff Course caters to needs of the Indian Armed Forces and those across the globe to face the challenges in the unique security calculus that exists today. The course curriculum, balanced and comprehensive in terms of content as well as methods of conduct, comprises the subjects of National Security, Strategy, International Relations, Theories of Warfare, Leadership, Communication Skills and Research Methodology. Most of the academic education is conducted through seminar system in the form of discussions moderated by the faculty. Exercises and war games assist students to validate operational concepts learnt during the Course through practical application. These war games and exercises extensively utilise computer based packages for versatility and objectivity. The students also devote a significant amount of time to individual and group research as well as Study tours. In addition to the faculty driven education, eminent experts in diverse disciplines from across the globe provide students with their perspectives on contemporary and relevant issues through guest lectures.
The scholarly accomplishments of the College are also demonstrated through ‘Trishul’, a tri-Service professional journal, which provides a discussion forum for thought-provoking ideas and matters ‘au courant’ dealing with military issues, international relations, strategic affairs and progressive precepts of joint war fighting.
Demonstrated professionalism of the Indian Armed Forces, comprehensive course content, world-class facilities and well qualified faculty make the Staff Course conducted at DSSC one of the most sought after courses in the world. DSSC has educated over 1700 students from 75 foreign countries to date and produced not only iconic military leaders but also the Heads of State in many a country. During my visits to DSSC, I have had the opportunity to interact with students from 25-30 countries at any time. Apart from professional training of the highest quality, these students are well nurtured during the intensive training into informal ambassadors of DSSC, contributing significantly to military diplomacy and soft power of the country.
Conforming to the modern needs, the College functions in a network enabled environment with a Wide Area Network connecting entire academic and residential areas. These enable host services such as e-mail and cloud, delivery of training content, interactive forums, conduct of online exercises, dissemination of critical information, administrative services. Software applications such as Geo-graphical Information System, War Gaming Systems and Combat Decision & Resolution Packageare leveraged extensively to enhance the value of qualitative training imparted. The recently commissioned Air Wing War gaming Centre, is a futuristic operational Command & Control Centre in the armed forces, which aptly demonstrates the juxtaposition of infrastructure development and exploitation of information technology to fulfil academic needs.
As the current Commandant Lt Gen SK Gadeock, AVSM, says his Vision of DSSC strives not only to produce future military leaders and commanders, but also to achieve holistic persona development of their families, thus contributing to society and nation building in the long run. An important factor in accomplishing this objective is in providing robust infrastructure and a conducive, stress free environment.
The most remarkable feature of the College is the availability of all the facilities within one campus, in proximity of the centre of academic activity. In recognition of the quality management system and environmental management system employed and the standards achieved, the College was accorded ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 certification on 25 Jun 2015- an unprecedented distinction. DSSC now stands apart as the only Armed Forces Institution in India to be certified for compliance with both ISO standards. The Presentation of colours by the President only confirmed the pre-eminent status that DSSC has come to enjoy among Category A Training Establishments of the three services.