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The very mention of the word Officer-Men relationship sound like a cliché because we have been hearing the term ever since we were groomed in the cradle of our military academy to be followed by on ground experience and never ending topics on the same issue. Now, what went wrong or what is wrong when we hear about the spate of incident that has happened in recent times is a difficult question to be answered. Its time for a holistic approach to end the problem once and for all to secure the fate of the nation which we have promised to defend and fight till the end of our breath. It is often remarked that the combat effectiveness of a Bn is intrinsically linked to its internal cohesion. Officer and men must be able to work together effectively in order to carry out order and react to unforeseen circumstances or situations. Mutual trust, the willingness to carry out dangerous task, and the application of knowledge and skills needed to carry out dangerous task are vital. The essential element of teamwork can also be created by a stress on regimental and Bn history and traditional binding of men to a sense of shared past emphasizing that it is the task of the contemporary unit to enhance this proud inheritance. Finally the process of knitting men together is greatly assisted by time and habit. As soldiers carry out similar routine and procedure on a daily basis and become used to the culture of the army a sense of homogeneity and integrity is sealed. Offr-Men Relationship in Other Army’s In order to get an insight into the issue it is important to take a look into the Army‘s of other countries which has been successful in keeping the force united as impregnable. This Army‘s are bonded together by a bond of deep love, spirit and a tradition that has kept the root firmly entrenched. The British Army has been able to imbibe a genuine family feeling greatly enhanced by its small size. The Offr, NCO and men make the Regt the Bn their home and way of life and the Regt traditions are crucial elements in their daily life. The pursuit for excellence in sports and professional trg seemed both to emphasize rank distinction and in seeming contradiction, reinforce a sense of teamwork and family spirit. The United states Army on the other hand is a contradiction to their British counterpart in many ways. With all other militaries, the essential difference with the Americans is the men, and the organization built out of them. They say "You fight a war with men, not with weapons." And what the best officers in the US military realized a long time ago was that in the US military, it's good for morale to tolerate a certain amount of controlled insubordination. These might not go well with the founding father of the Indian Army who has built the Indian Army on British model with strict code of conduct. The American say that if it has to be controlled; it has to be channeled and make sure that it doesn't get out of hand or affect things that might matter. But to permit it or your men will become sullen. That's because Americans, even in the service, are used to being free and used to thinking for themselves; they did it before they entered the service, they expect to again when they leave, and while they're inside they don't like the idea of ceasing to do so entirely. Rather than try to suppress they uses it. The soldiers are not automata; they're thinking contributors to accomplishing the mission. The US military pushes extreme amounts of responsibility and authority downward, especially to non-coms. The US Navy is built out of its petty officers; without them it would collapse. The Army and Marines depend on their sergeants. The military doesn't give orders to the men; it assigns them missions and grants them considerable leeway in determining how to carry them out. And it can do that, because as Randy says we Americans are culturally used to doing that kind of thing anyway.
the weather and everything else. The British never did that. because he'd been receiving nasty letters from officers. But for the Americans. but they were ordered to stop. He even sometimes made fun of the enemy. The Officers do generally have better educations than the men they command. Once he was hitchhiking in Italy and got picked up by a pretty high officer who gave him a ride. And there is. in particular. itself. (Which. all the men in one unit of the 101st Airborne cut their hair into the traditional Mohawk cut. dedication. And they tend to have a more common touch. and wanted the enemy to know it was coming because the enemy would know they were good and would be afraid. And the Colonel reassured him that if he wasn't offending anyone that he wasn't doing his job. (And many approached obscenity. most famously by the Flying Tigers when they fought in China against the Japanese. it was a way of announcing to the enemy that this particular group thought it was damned good. the British Army ceased to rely on nobles for its officers. but they're still largely drawn from the educated upper class while the ranks are usually middle class or lower class. and so the same separation which existed in civilian society appeared in the military. officers were drawn from the nobility and the ranks from the commoners. Just prior to D-Day. and had it done with his men standing around. this kind of thing used to mystify the British. It showed pride. nearly-naked women were a common theme. During World War II. he showed his true quality as an American officer. America is a nation built of mongrels. Given the culture of the British military. he was a staff subversive. and it was common in many theaters to paint a toothy shark's grin on the engine cowling of the P-40 Warhawk. and to some extent they take pride in that. The 332nd Fighter Group (the famous "Tuskegee Airmen") painted the tails of their planes bright red.) Fighter units quite commonly adopted a common (non-standard!) paint scheme for their units. some of which were quite elaborate. or of a British officer doing anything even remotely like that. American bombers nearly all carried unique names and had big pictures painted on them. for example. of course. This was printed and distributed to our soldiers by our own Army. there's still a cultural divide between officers and men. because it actually was technically against the rules (not that anyone ever enforced it to speak of). is beyond my ability to imagine. Traditionally in the British Army. and to expect less in the way of deference. . the allies. The idea of British soldiers doing anything like that. the food. and they spent a bunch of time talking. the war. and because the class structure in the UK remains strong. There were a few cases where British units started doing that kind of thing. They viewed it as indiscipline. the case of Sergeant Bill Mauldin. says something about American officers. but as often as not they come from about the same kind of civilian situation. watching and cheering. He ordered the most junior private in his command to cut his hair the same way. commitment to the effort – and it was a way of cheating just a bit. he wasn't sure if he was going too far.) Mauldin was feeling a bit insecure about this all. That Colonel understood. One way it showed up was as bomber nose art. In the 20th century.2 The relationship between officers and men in the US Army is in many ways diametrically opposite to how it exists in the British Army. With the fighter groups. most of which lampooned the officers. who spent most of the war drawing cartoons for the military paper Stars and Stripes. MPs. When the commander of the unit found out about it. Mauldin was a morale asset. this guy was something like a Colonel. it probably was. what it did was boost morale.
it can't win. and third. And the reason that the American military depends on giving its enlisted men considerable amounts of flexibility in carrying out their mission. To apply these principles effectively. but I always tell them that it is a question of basic attitude (or basic principle). and once it was done they would go back to being civilians. methods and forms ensue. When the Americans were stuck in the hedgerows in Normandy. ― Many people think that it is wrong methods that make for strained relations between officers and men and between the army and the people. This is not to criticize the British. Instead of attacking at high altitude. we must start with this basic attitude of respect for the soldiers and the . there are significant benefits in it. which delayed them enough so that they hit the ground and went off after the plane was away. Their culture is different than American. Major changes in approach sometimes came from very low levels. on motorized mounts all slaved to a single control in the transparent nose where the bombardier had been. If we depart from this attitude. then the policies. An interesting insight into the Offr-Men relationship in the Chinese PLA can be summed up by these quote by Mao Tse Tung on the same topic. which were very effective against all kinds of land targets and against shipping. and then they started producing them that way in the factory. correct. even if they wanted to. The Japanese grew to hate these things. They thought of themselves as civilians who were temporarily working for the Army in order to do a job that had to be done. is that it fits the temperament of American civilians who choose to become soldiers and sailors.50 caliber machine guns on the front of the plane. What they ended up doing was to completely redesign the plane. to permit it to cut its way through the built-up mound of earth and tree roots which were at the bottom of the "row" of "hedges" (actually trees). It worked. second. And the manufacturer of the Mitchell sent representatives to Australia to see them. and the culture of their military reflects that. the disintegration of the enemy forces. in fact. It is from this attitude that the various policies. The bombardier was removed. nor would theirs work for American. of having respect for the soldiers and the people. Controls for it were rewired up to the pilot. methods and forms will certainly be wrong. unity between officers and men. The plane carried a load of what were known as "para-frags" which were fragmentation bombs with parachutes on them. But for them. and the bomb-bay redesigned. American ways wouldn't work for them. And the gunner used his guns to strafe hell out of anything he could see. first. (This was. The modern US military is made up entirely of volunteers A successful military culture has to be based on the character of the people it's built out of.3 The majority of the Americans serving in World War II were draftees. really. But it remains the case that this is one of the ways in which the US military is quite distinctive in the world. unity between the army and the people. some unknown American maintenance guy came up with the idea of welding two big teeth to the bottom of a tank. and they didn't really think of themselves as soldiers. I don't think any other nation in the world could run their military the way American do. If that isn't done. the new approach was to come in a treetop level (and I mean so low that they sometimes brushed the branches) so as to reduce vulnerability to AAA. and also tolerates what many other nations consider unreasonably large amounts of indiscipline and what seems like outright insubordination. and the relations between officers and men and between the army and the people are bound to be unsatisfactory. Our three major principles for the army's political work are.) And while they were in the military they understood that discipline and hierarchy and orders were a necessary part of the process. Then they mounted eight . and the idea spread.
A hostile vernacular press keeps badgering the security forces. Some other findings were: In general war the nation looks upon the soldier as a saviour. soldiers continue their daily patrols along the Line of Control in Kashmir. A bullet can come from anywhere any time. However. There is no denying the fact that come summer.recruitment target in 2007-08 (Indian Air Force officer recruitment was 11 per cent below target. but that is only one of the factors. So one has to always be alert. but the Indian Army‘s predicament is striking. and they should correct their view ‖. Nine out of ten times the patrols return empty-handed. Leading psychiatrists also feel that there is disconnect between what a soldier is trained for and what he ends up doing in low-intensity conflicts. ‗A fully-trained soldier is a confident soldier and effective soldier. winter or rains. in the 20 years since 1991 and the unleashing of Indian capitalism. The Big Fact is that the officer corps of the Indian Army is about 25 per cent under strength. but they are unconnected and few people are thinking about them. The fear of the enemy. Voluntary armies often face recruitment problems. and of respect for the human dignity of prisoners of war once they have laid down their arms. we had joined the army precisely for this kind of work. but here he is at the receiving end of public hostility.‘ commanding officers say whenever one meets them. lack of good pay and allowances. claims each man that I have talked to. . leading to mental and physical exhaustion. The main worry are the problems back home — land disputes — tensions within the family. It revealed that among career choices. projecting them as perpetrators of oppression. I Effect on the Indian Army There is nothing secret. US officer-training academies have been able to hit 95 per cent of their targets in recent years. Every day and night at least a thousand foot patrols spread out in Jammu and Kashmir to try and corner terrorists. the Navy. Selected Works. sleep and body clocks.‘ is the constant refrain from soldiers. ‗objective‘ and ‗minimum force‘. ―the armed forces rank at the bottom‖. counter-insurgency). counterterrorism. the army has got used to the apparent hardship of uninterrupted operations. MOA TSE TUNG "On Protracted War" (May 1938). the attraction of the military has fallen away. Those who take all this as a technical matter and not one of basic attitude are indeed wrong. Vol. rising aspirations. But the chase is mostly futile. contradictions between war and low intensity conflict situations and particularly the concepts of ‗enemy‘. Continuous operations affect rest. is nominal.4 people. After nearly 14 years of counter-terrorism in Kashmir. Officers say their biggest duty is to ensure that men are fully trained to face any situation in counter-insurgency. ‗We have no tension in this respect (counter-terrorism. and also the falling standards of supervision from some officers. The facts are public. all these factors have led to major stress. There are no clear-cut victories like in wars. the Indian Army could manage only 66 per cent of its officer. 17 per cent). Kumar tells us that the last public survey attempting to gauge the popularity of a military career was in 1995. Operating in a tension-ridden counter-insurgency environment does lead to certain stress among the jawans. A psychiatric study by army doctors a couple of years ago on ‗Evolving Medical Strategies for Low Intensity Conflicts‘ revealed the huge range of issues soldiers in such situations have to confront. The job is risky and can even get monotonous.
they have to fight for getting equivalence with officers of Group A central government services! And yet. . the majority of staff postings are fully subscribed. For the ordinary soldier. It is the system that sends the man in uniform into a depression. The harsh reality is that men in uniform no longer command the respect they did in the early years after Independence. coupled with falling standards of command and control among some of the undeserving officers who have risen to command units. The main problem for the fauji comes from his domestic situation. from Tamil Nadu to Haryana was how little respect they seem to command today in a society which devalues their work. Not any longer. there are at best 8 or 9 officers available to the Commanding Officer these days. The old attitudes among some of the COs. My parents feel helpless.‖ I remember a soldier telling me in the Kashmir valley. One more common thread among soldiers from Rajasthan to UP. it creates an impression that no one listens to the army. of lording over OR and expecting them not to protest/revolt must change. It is ironic that while there is a shortage of over 12. Again. the kind of respect that his predecessors had is no longer there. a game of football or hockey was the best way to get to know each other. I have frequently come across a common thread where soldiers say there is no tension in actual work of counter-insurgency. Today. Soldiers these days are better educated and consequently better aware of their rights. This. ―There is always a tension. the army leadership will have to take a conscious decision to post more officers in combat units and make do with shortages in the staff.‖Very often insensitive civil administrations create tensions. but combat units have to do with bare minimum strength! While there is no single reason that can be cited as THE cause for suicides and recent standoffs that have happened in quick succession. As a former army commander had once pointed out: ―You see he comes from a society where he compares himself with others and when he realises that he is at a disadvantage since acceptance wise. I become tense every time I go back home. An acute shortage of officers at the cutting edge level is the other big factor contributing to an increasing gap between soldiers and officers. Very often land gets encroached in his native village or there is a dispute over even the smallest of property. Senior officers point out that most suicide and fratricide cases take place after soldiers return from a spot of leave.000 officers in the army.5 Company commanders who lead field units in counter-insurgency situations also believe that tensions at home transmit themselves much quicker today. most of them have strong links with the land. the army leadership will have to take a hard look at the disturbing developments and come up with quick but effective solutions. Against an authorised strength of over 22 officers for a combat battalion. There is no time to interact with soldiers. is becoming a major cause for worry. the army must look within too. The police don‘t listen to us. Since almost 80 per cent of India‘s foot soldiers come from rural and semi-urban areas. It is precisely this concern that had prompted Defence Minister A K Antony to write to all chief ministers some years ago asking them to sensitize district administrations in their states to the needs of the soldiers. State governments were asked to set up a mechanism at district and state levels to address soldiers‘ grievances. soldiers no longer accept a wrong or unjustified command blindly. In the old days. the smallest patch of land back home is the most precious property. Apart from increasing the intake of officers. one officer ends up doing the job of three given the shortage. Very often young officers with less than two years of service are commanding companies! Even in the battalion headquarters. The feeling of frustration can bring in helplessness which in turn leads to suicides and fratricide. Moreover.
In well run units. If the officers had undergone this part of the grooming up. Pay Naik and Company Clerk. promotion. any small incident could be a trigger to light a massive fire. Every young officer is made to undergo unit promotion cadres such as Sepoys to Unpaid Lance Naiks. All this can happen only when the unit has a minimum number of officers posted to it and not the way the present units are being managed with barely six to eight officers present where the authorization is almost three times. Every time a pre course training cadre is organized before an officer proceeds on a course of instruction. In exceptional cases. there is no reason why such a situation should have developed in the Regiment. where offences are committed. a few Jawans. Officers irrespective of their religious affiliations regularly attend the weekly ―Mandir Parade‖ in the unit with the troops. attempts to gain recognition. Way Ahead In the first few paragraphs we have read the essence of the other Army‘s that has been able to maintain this crucial Offr-Men relationship successfully. discharge from service (before completion of terms of engagement) and allotment of family accommodation. perform the duties of lower staffs such a Havildar Major. individuals are punished without any malice but with the sole aim of correcting rather than being punitive. you can take it for granted that trouble will follow. policies laid down by the unit cannot be violated under any circumstances. Serious problems of men in good units usually assume the status of a sub – unit commander‘s problem and solutions are found by hook or crook. Quartermaster Havildar. Similarly. Above all they provide him ample opportunities to get to know the men and vice versa. Where the system is bypassed. An officer loses respect in the eyes of the troops if he tells a deliberate lie. This is an area which is very painstakingly developed both in the officers and in the troops by a wellestablished process in the Army. etc with the Jawans. attend sick parade and taste company food. Non Commissioned and Junior Commissioned officers are also included in the training. They are made to perform duties of Duty Officers of the week. transparency and going by the rule are some of the factors which prevent discord. monetary and other benefits by corrupt means or when he fails to own responsibility for something where he has gone wrong. Every single promotion and rejection is discussed in detail. attend company roll calls. In units where officers and troops are not deployed and placed together in pickets.men integration.6 One thing that no one can deny in this entire episode is the lack of officer . Where an individual officer has thus lost his standing in the eyes of his men. mount guards. These processes make an officer practically live the early part of his military career with the troops and provide him an opportunity to exhibit his professional capabilities and leadership qualities. An officer who fails to stand up for truth. Company training camps are yet another opportunity for better integration of officers and men. Naik to Havildars. right and professional reasons especially in front of his seniors loses his pride of place in the perception of the troops. Here too one has to be fair and will have to be seen by the troops as being fair. They play games with the troops and lead troops in various professional and sports competitions. Ranks do not give the officer the right to behave arrogantly. . They have fought great wars like us and the one thing that has kept them close together is the genuine relations that exist and the flexibility to change that has been accepted in keeping sync with the changing times. In areas such as leave. promotion conferences are held with all officers and JCOs. every young officer who joins a unit is made to live in troop‘s accommodation. leave outside the laid down policies are granted based on the recommendations of the sub – unit commanders and approved by the commanding officer. Impartiality.
. The position and the status of this assignment needs to be recognized. command of an Infantry Battalion or a Regiment is considered the most important assignment in his career. irrespective of the level to which an officer raises. This is an extremely crucial issue in Army unit and ensuring healthy ties constitute part of the responsibility of the officers. safeguarded and the COs given their rightful place by the Army hierarchy.7 In the Indian Army. Any tension between Officer and men could trigger a breakdown in discipline and hierarchy besides severely damaging the morale of the troops. The unit tarteeb if followed in truth and spirit will ensure a healthy chain of happy relations at all level.
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