Now a day, many nations have embarked on the path of creating a Civil-Military Fusion (CMF). Basically, dual-use technologies and collaborations lies at the heart of any civil-military confluence. It ensures that civil and military sectors of any nation do not function in silos but develop a collaborative partnership. This partnership should be utilised to strengthen the nation’s civil and military capacities both, it also is instrumental in giving a boost to the country’s defence besides removing the curtain which hides all activities related to the defence sector,
There have been several instances where military R&D and private enterprises have developed cutting-edge technologies and services that have been used in both the civilian and military domains. CMF has gained prominence in recent years mainly due to the results which China has achieving by pursuing a CMF model.
Historically, all great nations have gone through a process of Civil-Military fusion. CMF has been absorbed throughout the annals of history and the foundation of British Colonialism in India was laid through the successful CMF between the British East India Company and the British Crown. The industrial revolution and the colonial era is a story of Civil-Military fusion in Europe. Inventiveness in science and technology focussed on how it could make colonial militaries better equipped, lethal and more efficient. Each colonial power wanted a military machine which could dominate others in order to expand their empires. In the last century, USA went through a process of intense civil-military fusion during the WW II.
At its height, USA was producing military aircraft by the hour, tanks by the day and warships by the week or even less. The entire American industry focussed on churning out military equipment which could beat the German and Japan combine. They did it successfully. The mighty military – industrial complex of USA, which drives its economy, is all about a military-civil system, fused together seamlessly. USA did this a century ago. Hence, civil-military fusion is not just about making militaries strong but about boosting economies to make nations great. In this century the Chinese have started this process and are seeking their way to greatness.
The Chinese CMF Model
Fundamentally, MCF is China’s national strategy to make PLA the most advanced military in the world. The stress is to eliminate barriers between China’s civilian, research, industrial, commercial, military and defence sectors. It is implementing this strategy, not just through domestic R&D, but also by acquiring cutting-edge technologies in order to achieve military dominance, both regionally and globally.
CMF seeks accelerated military modernisation through integration of new technologies with operational concepts, increased scientific research, and personnel reforms. CMF infrastructure connects the military and civilian sectors to catalyse innovation, economic development, and advance dual-use technologies, especially those suited for information-based and intelligent warfare systems based on artificial intelligence (AI).
The CMF concept took root at the turn of the century. China studied the models of USA and other developed nations. Initially they sought ‘military-civilian integration’ by greater collaboration between the defence and civilian sectors. However, ‘integration’ did not make headway due to a lack of centralised control and organisational barriers between the party and state and their various organisations.
In 2007, China decided to replace ‘integration’ with ‘fusion’. It started breaking barriers to fusion through a ‘whole of the nation’ approach. CMF grew in scope and scale as China started viewing it as a means to bridge economic and social development besides security development. The net effect was national development.
In 2015, CMF was elevated to a national-level strategy to build an ‘integrated national strategic system and capabilities’, to support the goal of Chinese rejuvenation. The overall management and implementation of the CMF is monitored and managed by the Politburo, the State Council and the CMC.
A Central Commission for Military Civilian Fusion Development (CCMCFD) was established in 2017, headed by Xi Jinping along with Premier Li Keqiang. In effect, the most powerful people and organs of the state, own and implement CMF. This special arrangement works to lay down directives for CMF and overcome any impediment to its implementation.
China’s CMF model fuses its economic, social, and security development with a twofold objective. To strengthen all instruments of national power and to achieve a world class military. It includes development and acquisition of advanced dual-use technology for military and civilian applications. It also includes reform of the national defence, science and technology industries to meld them into one.
CMF has six key features; it fuses the defence and civil technology and industrial base, science and technology innovations are integrated and leveraged across military and civilian sectors. military and civilian expertise and knowledge are blended and talent is cultivated across the board, civilian infrastructure and construction are leveraged for military purposes by building them to military requirements and standards, civilian services and logistics are utilised for military purposes, all aspects of society and economy are utilised for mobilisation of resources and capabilities for defence of the nation.
Implementation is from the highest national-level establishments and organisations and go down to provincial and city level units. There are financial structures and regulatory mechanisms to incentivise civilian and military stakeholders. These include local governments, academia, research institutions, private investors, and military organisations. It is a whole of the government approach. The focus is naturally on disruptive dual-use technologies and systems.
Indian efforts towards CMF
The Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, while speaking at ‘Samanjasya Se Shakti’, the first ever Indian Army Logistics seminar held last year, laid out the government’s plans to embark on a CMF model for the country.
He said the government is committed to create a robust, secure, and speedy ‘Atmanirbhar’ logistics system to effectively deal with future security challenges and take the country to greater heights. He said that India has become the fifth largest economy in the world today. It is fast moving towards becoming a $5 trillion economy. In future, whether in battlefield or civilian sector, the criticality of logistics sustenance is going to increase. In such a situation, reforming the system of logistics according to the needs of the 21st century is the need of the hour. Self-reliance is an important component in the field of logistics. To achieve our goals, we need an ‘Atmanirbhar’ logistics supply system to make India a superpower in ‘Amrit Kaal’ by 2047.
The minister termed joint working among the three services as one of the major policy changes made in Ministry of Defence in the last few years, which has benefited a number of sectors across the board, especially logistics. He said, the foundation has been laid to establish a strong logistics system, which is pivotal for operational preparedness of the Armed Forces, as it ensures that right items, with right quality & quantity, are available to the military at the right time and right place. Military logistics is an extremely important aspect that determines the outcome of a war, he said.
Elaborating on the visible positive results, Rajnath Singh stated that due to the Government’s efforts, the response time has been significantly reduced to deal with counter insurgencies as well as in disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, non-combat evacuation, combat search & rescue and casualty evacuation. This is an important aspect of nation building and all efforts are being made in this regard, he added.
The minister called for civil-military fusion to further strengthen the logistics system and stay prepared to deal with future challenges. He emphasised that logistics in future wars will require joint working not only among the three Services, but also among different bodies in the form of industrial back-up, research & development, material support, industry and man-power.
He called for formulating robust policies to enhance commitment and mutual trust between civil and the military, which will provide a renewed thrust to the Government’s vision of protecting the people from future threats. He suggested learning from the policies and best practices of different countries, stressing that the highest level of civil-military coordination can only be achieved when all stakeholders come together under a robust framework.
He also threw light on a number of policies formulated by the Government to integrate logistics in the country and make it self-reliant. These policies include National Logistics Policy, PM Gati Shakti and other efforts to ensure infrastructure development.
In case India wants to make the transition to be a power of consequence it has to undergo a focussed Civil-Military fusion process. The road to greatness lies in shedding our image of being a soft, slow moving, big talking, status quoist nation of immense potential. The latent potential, untapped in perpetuity, must be unleashed. However, Civil-Military fusion is a complex process which needs understanding. Every nation has to adopt a fusion strategy suiting its culture and political climate.
In the current international landscape, China’s fusion process is driven by its superpower ambitions and to establish a Chinese based world order. The USA and the western world are dissecting the Chinese model to stymie it. However, in this process the Chinese Civil-Military fusion model is available for India to adapt. In this context, we need to understand the Chinese Military-Civil Fusion (CMF) model first.
-The writer is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He can be contacted on www.asadmirza.in. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda