Lt Gen SK Saini, the Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) addressed the participants of National Defence Course Bangladesh on “Security Challenges Post COVID – 19 Pandemic” via a virtual platform on 02 December 2020. Earlier in his career, the VCOAS had attended the National Defence College Bangladesh in 2011. The address covered the impact of Corona virus on the emerging world and focused on its impact on military, the security challenges and his views on ways and means to tackle them.
On the impact of the virus, the VCOAS said that “strategic security of most nations have been impacted due to reduction in funds for military capability and projects since vast sums of money have been diverted for urgent health requirements”. Commenting on the trend of “De-globalisation” the Vice Chief, remarked that “many countries fuelled by ultra-nationalism are experiencing accelerated process of De-globalisation leading to closing of borders for movement of goods, people, services and even ideas”. He noted that “while countries are struggling to rein in the virus, certain countries have seized the opportunity to extend their influence militarily, economically and politically which does not augur well for the world community”.
Commenting on future wars, the Vice Chief mentioned that “future wars may gravitate towards zero cost wars, wherein a very virulent pathogen may immobilise high-technology arsenal”. He also mentioned that “weaker militaries will continue to seek an asymmetric advantage in an unrestricted warfare milieu” while “social media will continue to be the vector of choice for the battle of narratives”.
On the impact of COVID-19 on military, the VCOAS spoke on its impact on force readiness, training, operational logistics and HR issues highlighting that “force sustainment is a challenge due to delays in delivery schedules owing to production halts and workforce disruptions”.
Towards suggesting recommendations for post COVID era, to the future senior military leadership attending the course, the VCOAS emphasised that the “militaries of the region must evolve a defence cooperation plan since they will become the first responders during such health disasters”. He also called for “technology-enabled solutions for integrated identification, control and management of such threats”. The Vice Chief stressed on the “need to re-invigorate the defence industrial base to meet sustainment and modernisation needs” and to focus on “force preservation and readiness by giving a fresh impetus to health security”. The VCOAS remarked that “use of technology in training, development of digital communication and sharing of best practices among militaries” must be the focus to tackle challenges associated with COVID-19.
This talk by the VCOAS is a significant step in enhancing defence cooperation with Bangladesh which has remained a priority for the Indian Army given our historic, cultural and military affinity.