Military & Aerospace

Jointmanship in the Military
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Issue Vol 26.2 Apr-Jun 2011 | Date : 04 Jul , 2011

Victory in any event, be it a playful game or a bloodthirsty war, is a joint effort of all the members. How one orchestrates this effort is Integration. These fundamentals are universal. These do not require proof or QED.

Yet, quite often, while dealing with inter-services matters, in the desire to promote enhanced jointmanship and integration, one comes across decisions, which do not lead to true jointmanship. While there may be extensive amount of joint training, the same may contain insufficient or inappropriate training content for Jointness. Some of the measures may appear specious but turn out inappropriate because the end results do not seem at all commensurate with the input effort and time. This may be the result of insufficient analysis for enhancing Jointmanship.

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So let us begin by first understanding what is meant by Jointmanship? Various organisations and individuals have explained it differently.

“You take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman and the most audacious soldier, put them at a table together and what do you get? The sum of their fears!”

— Winston S Churchill

Jointness or Jointmanship is not a word in Concise Oxford Dictionary. However, following Institutions define/explain it thus. A definition coined at DSSC in 2001 explains Jointmanship as, “Integrated planning and application of military power at the Strategic, Operational and Tactical levels, with proper sequencing of combat power of the three Services in time and space as per requirement and in relation to the enemy’s centres of gravity and culmination points is a must to win a war. Cooperation is a time-tested principle of war and would need to be exhibited in full measure by the services to prosecute our combined military strategy. Good jointmanship will result from proper joint training, understanding of each others capabilities and limitations and mutual trust, confidence and respect for each other.”

The air war mandates firming up of plans as early as possible. To be able to decide on targets and, thereafter, gather intelligence on the target, i.e. very precise intelligence to match the highly accurate PGMs, requires a lot of lead-time. Lead time is precisely what the army commander cannot give with respect to his plans.

Whereas “Joint Operation” at DSSC is: defined as, “Operations planned and executed by two or more services, operating under a single designated Joint Task Force Commander. Joint Operations are normally mission oriented and have specific objectives. The joint task force stands dissolved on attainment of its objective or as specified in the operational directive. Joint forces normally operate within two distinct chains of command – one for operations and the other for administration and logistics”.

The American term to express Jointmanship is “Jointness”. The aim of Jointness as per US Joint Doctrine is to, “coordinate the combat capabilities of the Services and allies or coalition partners to achieve the greatest possible military advantage. This is accomplished through the creation and execution of plans which maximise the unique capabilities of each of the Services.”1 Another expert Michael C. Vitale (US Navy) defines Jointness as, “a holistic process that seeks to enhance the effectiveness of all military operations by synchronising the actions of the Armed Forces to produce synergistic effects within and between all joint integrators at every level of war.”2

“Jointness defies consistent definition. The GoldWater Nichols Act, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and students of operational art all view jointness differently. What will be the result of divergent, often opposing concepts of jointness? GoldWater Nichols mandated jointness by structural reforms; General Powell sees jointness as inter service team – work; Senator Nunn hopes jointness will be a mechanism for eliminating what he considers to be redundant roles and missions”.3

“¦in the wars of today and tomorrow, the impact of the three instruments of war machine i.e. the three services will generally apply in the following order. Air and Space power will have the maximum impact in all three domains of warfare, and will be the first to be used.

Recently Pentagon likes to call “Jointness” as the concept which connects all systems in a seamless network for warfighting.4 An example being the US special forces in Afghanistan on horse back connected to UAV imagery.

In all of the above definitions/explanations few fundamentals emerge which can be called the sine quo non of Jointmanship. These are, two or more players, their combat capabilities, meshing of these capabilities to attain war aims with better results than would be the case otherwise.

If ‘Seamanship’ is about the wisdom of seafaring and sea warfare; and ‘Airmanship’ is about flying and air warfare; then ‘Jointmanship’ should represent the wisdom about fighting together.

The wisdom of warfare is based on the entire history of warfare. The span of warfare covers about 5500 years of recorded history; of this about 3000 years has been documented in some form or other. In these 3000 years of history land warfare occurs in all the conflicts and predominates the major portion of conflicts except in the last decade. While ships were used even in the ancient times to transport the armies and sometimes to ram into each other, the proper naval warfare with decisive results emerged only in 18th & 19th century. Thus, the span of naval warfare dealing with ‘Sea Control’ occupies only about 200 years out of the entire history of warfare. Last on the scene, the air power made its beginning in World War I. It’s war experience amounts to just about 100 years of history.

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