Cyber and space domains are ‘new battlefields’ says Air Chief

Indian Air Force

New Delhi: With Sino-Indian border tensions continuing to simmer and the Russia – Ukraine conflict continuing, Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhuri cautioned that “coercion is the new strategy, with cyber, information and space domains becoming the new battlefield”.

Alluding to the new forms of engagement between states, he said, “Diplomacy, economy, and information are becoming the primary tools of engagement with the military instrument being used as a deterrent”.

Addressing the capstone seminar of IAF’s first Warfare and Aerospace Strategy Programme (WASP) here, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Chaudhari also spoke about the changing nature of the international system, indicating the emergence of a “complex multipolarity”.


He contended that  within this multipolar structure, a world has developed with “little or no regard to rules or the traditional processes of geopolitical interplays. Therefore, we must reassess our strategic priorities and realign our actions to ensure we don’t get left behind”.

Explaining the rationale behind the WASP, the Air Chief said, “it was started with an aim to generate strategic thought and understanding amongst our officers. The ultimate aim of this course is to inculcate a culture which promotes reading, a keen sense of analysis, and ability to produce well-drafted documents”.

The WASP was organised by the College of Air Warfare in Telangana, which is the IAF’s premier institute for Air Power studies.

Essentially, the course aims to restructure critical thinking among IAF officers, enhance their intellectual capital, and teach them “how to think” rather than “what to think”, he said.

The course included classes on military and air power theory, strategy, national power and International Relations. The essence of the program was in “contextualising these concepts to suit our interests in the 21st-century paradigm”, the Air Chief said.

On the long-term goals of the course, he said that they centre around “nurturing our medium-level officers to gain knowledge and contribute to building sound operational plans for the IAF”.

While developing a more nuanced understanding of the sciences, theories, and philosophies behind war is critical, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari cautioned that “a military strategist must not lose sight of the primary objective, and that is War Fighting”.

“Thus, the essence is to focus on operational level critical thinking and strategy,” the IAF chief said.

To leverage the gains from the WASP course and incorporate the learnings into the structure and functioning of the IAF, he explained that they were looking at “employing WASP qualified officers on important deputations in the ministry, into operational Commands, think tanks, critical tri-service positions, directing staff at training establishments and as IAF spokespersons”, amongst other positions.

 “You must remember that while a well-crafted strategy may not guarantee success, the absence of a coherent and sustainable strategy will surely lead to failure,” he said.

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