By Lt Col Manoj K Channan
Military Leadership is intriguing as to why a few good men willingly obey their leadership and sacrifice their lives for the Flag of the country and the unit they serve in.
What is it that makes soldiers do what they do, at a young age when most young people have other attractions that offer those comforts, luxuries, and adequate compensation / wealth multiplier opportunities?
The old saying holds good; “you can take a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink”.
Serving in the defense services is a way of life, the basic qualitative requirements are a strong courage of conviction, positive frame of mind, and ability to prioritize and take rational decisions.
The selection centers for the officer cadets have a well-designed approach which tests a candidate for his intelligence quotient, social quotient, emotional quotient, and adversity quotient.
The candidates are put through psychometric tests, group tasks, command tasks and an interview with the Selection Centre President; easy as it may seem, the psychologist, the Group Task Officer, and the President individually in their assessments clear the candidate before he is sent for medical evaluation.
The candidate on being selected feels as if he has become an officer and the world is at his feet.
The hallmark of training is to build up physical and mental stamina, along with the basics of military training of field craft and battle craft, weapons training, setting up and breaking down of a camp site in an administrative environment and in field conditions with camouflage and concealment.
Basic infantry tactics which are a must for a combatant to survive the battlefield; patrolling is the hallmark of an infantry man’s capabilities and the basics of setting up an ambush, operations of war of advance, defense, attack, and withdrawal are taught.
Some join other combat arms, combat support units and logistics where they are imparted training specific to their role, primary and secondary tasks; in each operation of war as detailed above.
Along with the tactical subjects, Military History, science, and military technology, administration, communications, briefing and giving out orders for various military operations help prepare the gentleman cadets to ease into the role of commissioned officers.
Drill and physical training are inherent and help develop the military bearing which differentiates the Military from his civilian associates.
Having passed out as officers, the young officers (YO) once again find themselves at the first rung of the ladder which is tall and steep. The YO is put under a senior subaltern who guides the YO to read and learn his unit history, knowledge of troops, their backgrounds, the religion of the troops and their culture.
The YO is put under a senior NCO who helps refine the basics of the training imbibed at the training academy, the mounting of the Guard at the Quarter Guard, the trooping of colors /standard are the start to a great regimental life.
Social life is an important aspect as military stations are a distinguished community. The YO calls on the ladies of the unit and therefore gets to know his new Family which will be the backbone of his service life.
The grooming of the officer is a continuous affair and the interaction all around helps the YO to develop his professional skills and social graces which help him become a well-developed young leader.
Exposures to different professional courses, tenures at the training institutions and formation headquarters (Higher Headquarters) help the officer understand the operational aspects at a level higher than a unit.
The constant endeavors to be better than the best in all aspects is what hones the skills of the cutting edge of the sword.
Leadership in the defense services is demonstrative and therefore its very objective and the subordinates will accept an officer who is humble, grounded and can empathize with his command and look after their professional interests, without being biased.
Contrary to what the civilian world thinks that the defense services are all about “brawns and no brains”; this is perhaps the only organization which invests in training, re-training, interaction with subject matter experts from different fields to include, diplomats, economists, legal experts to develop an all-round perspective to help understand the Nation’s perspective on the security needs of the country and its National Interest/ Comprehensive National Power.
The accumulation of all this helps a Military Leader formulate plans to mitigate internal and external threats that are to be mitigated by kinetic means or through conflict resolution through non-military means.
Non-military means are carried out by undertaking measures to ease the day to day living of the affected population. The political leadership and the bureaucracy are at the forefront of such initiatives as the approach is of an “iron fist in a velvet glove”.
While the interaction of the military leadership with the politician is inevitable the military leadership must ensure that it is not gullible to the wily politicians’ unethical charms to assist in the political objectives of his political party.
The line is thin, and the error of margin is “Zero”; the Military Leadership is always committed to the constitution of India and operates as the sword arm of the government, and not the political party which has formed the government.
Capabilities and ambitions go hand in hand, when capability is lacking the ease of achieving ambition by unethical means becomes the easy path to success.
Transformation and evolving of the defense services, is a constant and needs to be guarded against compromising its combat capabilities and efficiencies.
(Author is Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).