Christopher Snedden of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii said it appeared as an “associate challenge” for the land forces to sell this relevance.
“…particularly in the current security environment where maritime and air forces are hogging the limelight,” he said on Sunday speaking at a session on the opening day of the Asia-Pacific armies seminar in Dhaka.
The four-day seminar that drew together land forces of 32 countries of the Asia and the Pacific region was discussing the new focus of “opportunities and challenges” of the land forces in the region.
Bangladesh is co-hosting the seminar with the US Army Pacific after 22 years.
Academics, foreign policy analysts, senior diplomats, and military experts of the region will make presentations.
Snedden, who is also an expert on South Asia, gave a broader perspective of the region and broached this new challenge for the land forces citing examples of the British rulers who left the region 70 years ago.
He said British ruled the region using land forces and they left when the forces lost relevance.
“They were exhausted after the Second World War and simply wanted out, the Indians had finally—and irresistibly—got their act together, and lastly by that time the British essentially had become irrelevant.”
“Thinking strategically, this suggests one of the major challenges that Land Forces confront—being, or remaining, relevant.”
“For me, it’s indisputable that Land Forces are relevant,” he said considering the nature of their works including supporting civil authorities in calamities.
“You also do many things better than maritime or air forces—if only because you usually operate on the ground itself,” he said.
Snedden, however, said partnership among the nations can be a way of proving the relevance.
One, he said, could be building “constructive coalitions, expeditions or joint operations with other nations”.
He said this offers “a great strategic advantage because almost all nations have Land Forces to interact with”.
“….whereas they may not have air forces and, at least in the case of landlocked states like Afghanistan or Nepal, navys.”
“Undertaking coalition operations on land is also your area of expertise and excellence.
“It offers synergies; it can be cost effective; it is inclusive; it involves positive cooperation; it builds capacities and nations.
“Most of all, it is a major opportunity which, if used for beneficial purposes, will ensure that Land Forces remain relevant,” he said.
“The actions and words of Land Forces therefore must seek to convince the public, your politicians and sufficient taxpayers, that Land Forces too are relevant,” the US professor said.
He, however, lauded the motto of Bangladesh Army as “a very useful” guide: ‘in war, in peace, we are everywhere for our country’.
He also called upon them to be innovative that he said would make them “more mobile, more capable, and more robust armies”.
The US Army Pacific began this seminar only with nine countries at Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1978, and since then it is being organised in different parts of the world.