The Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research (CAFHR) was established in December 2000 under the aegis of the USI at the behest of the three Service Headquarters for encouraging an objective study of all facets of Indian military history with a special emphasis on the history of the Indian Armed Forces. The Centre encourages research in various aspects of the Indian Armed Forces including strategic, tactical, logistical, organisational, socio-economic policies – and their implementation.
The Centre aims to study the history of the Indian Armed Forces with an emphasis on the following periods:
- 1900-1947 AD.
- 1750-1900 AD.
- Prior to 1750 AD.
• The USI-CAFHR awards Research Fellowships. This activity is continuing. Its scope has increased with the transfer of the General Palit Military Studies Trust from the IDSA to the USI CAFHR with effect from 2003.
• Establishment of a full-fledged oral archive.
• Prepare an integrated record management policy for implementation by the Indian Defence Establishment. Without official records, the study of History becomes meaningless. It is a part of the CAFHR’s endeavour to interact with the various record creating bodies within the Defence Establishment in order to stress the importance of military records and to assist in their preservation. As of now, in spite of the statutory requirement imposed by the Public Records Act 1993, the actual position regarding the transfer of post-1947 military records to the public domain is far from satisfactory. Moreover, large quantities of records are lost every year by being destroyed without any proper evaluation. The negative impact of the loss of a large proportion of primary source records upon the future study of independent India’s military history can be well imagined.
• Undertake a project to catalogue official Indian military records available in primary archival locations/record repositories, so as to provide a centralised integrated data-base of military records in India. Apart from serving as an invaluable resource tool for students of Indian military history, the utility of such a data-bank of information for a variety of official purposes is self-evident.
• Undertake a project to digitise/microfilm, or assist in the reprography of Indian military records available in primary archival locations/record repositories, so as to establish a centralised reprographic archive of military records in India.
• Prepare a comprehensive catalogue of military photographs and artefacts currently held by a variety of agencies. These include photographs of historic importance held by units/formations, as well as numerous sources in India and abroad. As far as possible these photos should be obtained/copied either digitally or on film so that they can be available for reference/use at a single centralised location. It goes without saying that the enormous advantages accruing from such an arrangement justify the effort involved.
• Maintain a properly catalogued digital archive of press clippings and articles dealing with defence related matters.
• Pursue a case suggesting that all future official histories undertaken by the Government of India, Ministry of Defence History Division be prepared by interfacing with the USI CAFHR which can provide the necessary inputs and expertise regarding the military aspects of operations, which may not always be easily understood by civilian academics or historians. This aspect can be incorporated into the History Division’s SOP. Co-opting retired/serving service officers for this purpose has a precedence.
• Service Headquarters be encouraged to route their history-related projects, such as the preparation of campaign/unit histories, through the USI CAFHR, which can undertake to coordinate/execute these as sponsored projects.
• The Battlefield Studies Concept represents a favourable method of conveying lessons from the past to present-day military situations for current application. Properly conducted these lessons bring to life, on actual terrain where historic encounters took place, examples applicable today as in the past, of leadership, tactics and strategy, use of terrain, communication, logistics and ever more so the psychology of men in battle.
• The issue that the Battlefield Studies Concept addresses can illustrate most any principle of war, or lesson at strategic, operational or tactical level. Besides highlighting the good strategy and tactics of a successful operation (e.g. Op Vijay – The Kargil War), it is even more important to emphasise what went wrong!
• A Battlefield Study should consist of a preliminary study of a selected campaign, a visit to the actual battlefields associated with that campaign and an opportunity to integrate the lessons derived from each. It requires maximum student participation before proceeding to the battlefield to ensure a thorough knowledge of the prevailing social, political, and military situations in which the country (ies) is (are) embroiled, followed by a study of the actual terrain and opposing forces to evolve a thorough and thought-provoking battle analysis.
• Establish a Forum where people interested in Indian Military History can meet informally and exchange views and ideas concerning the subject. Such a forum will provide an ideal and much needed interface between members of the military community and academia and go a long way in furthering the objectives of the Centre.
• Build up a collection of personal papers and artefacts on the lines of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
• Compile and keep updated a comprehensive bibliography of all published sources dealing with the Indian military worldwide. This will serve as an invaluable resource tool both for official use as well as for formal academic research.
• Organise periodic seminars on military history in order to encourage the study of military history not only within military circles but on a broader national academic spectrum as well.
• Provide research assistance and consultation to any agency interested in studying/commercially exploiting Indian military history themes, on payment basis. (Books, articles, documentary or commercial films and tele-serials). The amount may be decided on a case-to-case basis.