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Appointment of Army Chief – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Amidst speculation and heated debates about the delay in appointment of the next army chief, rumours about the two senior army commanders likely to be superceded are doing rounds. One argument being forwarded is – “shouldn’t merit rather than seniority be the criterion?” As arguments go, its a tempting one, one which is difficult to disagree with. But it’s not without its pitfalls. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is significant difference between Army Commanders in terms of their merit or suitability for the job. What would be the parameters on which such differences could be measured? How would the performance of a Northern Army Commander dealing with Counter Insurgency operations be compared with that of, say the Western Army Commander who’s peacetime deliverables would be substantially different? … Read entire article »

Filed under: COAS, Military, Politics

Is the Indian Army in Danger of Being Politicised?

The following article appeared in The Quint. Original can be accessed here. Gen Dalbir Suhag, the present army chief is due to retire at the end of this month. However, in a surprising break from past practice, the name of his replacement has not yet been announced. As things stand, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the present Eastern Army Commander, is the senior most on the day the Gen Suhag retires, and going by the precedence, he should have been named as the next chief by now. Appointment of Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as the Chief of Pakistan army was in the news on both sides of the border for the past few days. It was announced just three days before Gen Raheel Sharif retired, and the new incumbent took over the reins … Read entire article »

Filed under: Civil Military Relations, COAS, Military, Politics

A Study in Futility?

A Study in Futility?

As per a recent news report, the Chief has ordered a study to look at increasing the availability of officers in units. With shortage of officers reaching alarming levels of almost one fifth of the sanctioned strength, the concern and urgency is understandable. Rising cases of discord, assault and affray in units are disturbing manifestations of this shortage. The handful of officers available in a unit at any given time are unable to maintain the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogitorial, COAS, Equipment, Military, Reforms, Shortage of officers

Line of succession – myth vs reality

Line of succession – myth vs reality

The media war centering around former COAS Gen VK Singh the last few months has, amongst many other effects, thrown around a number of ‘Red Herrings’. The aspects of honour and morale have been talked about in earlier posts. The so called ‘Line of Succession’ is another such fish. In case you have not been following the saga, it refers to the present system where the senior-most serving Army Commander at the time of retirement … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogitorial, COAS, Higher Defence Management, Military

Morale of the story

Morale of the story

Just like honour, morale is a word that has been bandied about a lot in the recent past. Specially in context of the age row that has been dominating the front pages and prime time slots for an unbearably long time. It even prompted a leading national daily to commission a survey to gauge whether the morale of the armed forces has actually been impacted by the shenanigans of the very people charged with preserving … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogitorial, COAS, Media, Military, Values

Age Row – Some Facts

Going by the round and round arguments about Gen VK Singh’s age row, it seems people have not gone beyond the sound bytes and headlines to understand the real issue involved. The issue in question was NOT the actual year of the General’s birth. The government, the court, everyone has clearly accepted his word that he was born in 1951. So no one was calling him a liar or assaulting his honour. The case related to what date should be taken into account for the purpose of his retirement. And the outcome was that the date originally entered in the UPSC form will be. Let us look at some facts of the case. The date of birth was entered as 1950 in his UPSC form. This is not denied by anyone, … Read entire article »

Filed under: COAS, Media, Military, Politics

Casus Belli Aching

Just when commentators were concluding that Gen VK Singh will be remembered for posterity as the Chief who went to court for getting ten more months in office, the General has yet again managed to spring a surprise. Going public with allegations that he was offered Rs 14 Crore as bribe for accepting sub-standard vehicles for the army, he is back in headlines. While he did not go as far as naming the perpetuators of the tantalizing offer, a recent official press release by the Army claimed that the offer was made by a retired Lt Gen on behalf of a PSU and a foreign firm. The release also claimed that the recent stories about communication interception equipment being used without authorization by the Army in the capital have been … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogitorial, Civil Military Relations, COAS, Military, Values

Another Open Letter to COAS

Another Open Letter to COAS

Dear General, A lot of ink has flown since my last open letter to you of 1st July 2011. Some of it on papers passing through desks of MoD, some on the Public Interest Litigation submitted to Supreme Court, and a lot of it on national dailies and tabloids. The air waves are also agog with speculation and discussions on what your next action is going to be. Amidst all this, I take the liberty of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogitorial, Civil Military Relations, COAS, Military

ACR 360

ACR 360

Improving the internal health of the Army was a key challenge identified for himself by the present chief when he assumed office two years back. How far has he been able to address the problem remains to be seen in the absence of any indications, either in open media, or through the grapevine. While it would be illuminating to learn the steps (if any) taken by the organisation towards meeting this challenge, here are some … Read entire article »

Filed under: Appraisal System, Blogitorial, COAS, Military, Reforms

Individual Vs Institution

One pitfall of achieving high office is that you cease to be an individual. Like it or not, you become an institution. Every move you make, every action of yours is weighed and viewed accordingly. To quote Spiderman comics – “with great power comes great responsibility”.  History is not known to treat very kindly those who choose to exercise the power while failing to discharge the responsibility to the hilt. Unquestionably, that responsibility includes maintaining the sanctity and dignity of the office according the power. Undoubtedly, the correct date of birth of the Chief of Army Staff is the one being quoted by him in his Statutory Complaint. But let us look at other facts – as reported by the press. Firstly – the Chief’s year of birth as recorded in his … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogitorial, COAS, Military, Values