(Editor's Note: This article has been reproduced from Mission Victory India: A Key to Quality Combat Leadership, the fifth book in the Victory India compendium of books, as part of MVI's ongoing archival efforts. The subject matter continues to hold relevance in the current military context, as it did when written in 2018.)
Every man-made structure has an in built life span, no structure created by humans can last eternally, some get created for shorter periods and get obliterated even without registering in general consciousness and some like the pyramids of Giza stand tall over centuries, but sooner or later the law of entropy catches up!
What makes a structure withstand the test of time? Well, it has to satisfy the following laws:
- The basic Idea in consonance with objective reality.
- Laws of Physics & Maths related to the structure.
- Teamwork & Human endeavour.
- Quality of Material utilized.
- Timely interventions for repair and maintenance if required.
The Indian Army, a product of the British Colonial army, created structured & nourished by the British to further their limited interests has over a span of 70 odd years after Independence developed flaws in its basic structure. I will elaborate:
The Basic Idea
The basic concept of keeping a large standing Army is deterrence (Chandragupt had a large, well trained, standing Army of 6 Lakh troops) it also adds gravitas & muscle to following a robust Foreign policy. It is like a living, throbbing with action, mammoth organism with dynamics of its own, based on ethos, recruitment, and training. The topping is prevalent culture. Like in war fighting it is “Vijay ya Veergati” (Victory or Death) Army can also deliver in furthering National Objectives & Political aims.
Present Scenario – almost all parameters mentioned above have taken a beating, though we have a large standing Army of 1.3 Million, it is under a lethargic bureaucratic & political control (three RM’s in four years). Prevalent culture is materialistic & the political class has scant clue about how to handle the concerns of a well-trained professional Army.
Laws of Physics & Maths
Some basic laws of Physics & Maths play a particularly important role in any structure. Take for example the Pyramids of Giza. The base is wider & stronger to support the edifice & top stones. Interlocking of stones yields a stronger structure; triangle is the strongest geometrical design.
Triangles are the strongest shape because any added force is evenly spread through all three sides. Look closely at any pyramid – it is made of triangles! Squares or cubes can be strengthened by adding a diagonal piece across the middle, making it two triangles linked together.
Present Scenario– the basics of recruitment, training, ethos, & grooming are all being given a short shrift, with no uniformity & forward thinking in training methods. It is not about numbers alone, that we have in abundance; fact is, the base of the Pyramid is getting weaker. To aggravate the situation, seamless interlocking is missing (integrated training with different arms is an eye wash, with each arm eulogizing & furthering their own concepts of training)
"Every man-made structure has an in built life span, no structure created by humans can last eternally, some get created for shorter periods and get obliterated even without registering in general consciousness"
Teamwork & Human Endeavour
There is immense sacrifice & human endeavour that is being invested by the Army in terrorist infested J & K, but it is unscientific & not based on sound principles of battling terrorist led insurgencies. Mere human effort will yield diminishing returns. Are the local decisions making politicians, Governor, Army Commanders, NSA, RM & PM always on the same page?
Why in nearly 30 years of terror in J & K we failed to define (an insurgent, militant, terrorist, anti-national, terror suspect or misguided youth?) while serving in J & K in anti-terror operations, I found multiple agencies working at cross purposes to each other. Till end of 1994 we went into operations without a Bullet Proof (BP) jacket, our vehicles were not BP while the J & K Police moved about in BP Gypsy Jeeps.
Present Scenario – we still lack specific Intelligence to pinpoint & pick out terrorists. During funerals & fatehas of killed terrorists, gun wielding subaltern terrorists’ throng to the venue openly defying the might of the Army & raise slogans & wave ISIS flags to motivate fresh recruitment. Where are the long-range sniper rifles? Does the Army employ professional hackers & data mining experts to read through face book posts & whatsapp messages in J&K?
Why are the likes of Mehbooba Mufti allowed to give seditious anti national statements? Even when she is belittling the sacrifices of our brave hearts? Does the Army have a strategic information & public communication structure in place? A full-blown insurgency is not only the Army’s baby it is National Teamwork. Insurgencies which drag on for longer periods (30 years) inure the population against violence & killings by Insurgents or the CI forces.
"We still lack specific Intelligence to pinpoint & pick out terrorists. During funerals & fatehas of killed terrorists, gun wielding subaltern terrorists’ throng to the venue openly defying the might of the Army & raise slogans & wave ISIS flags to motivate fresh recruitment."
Quality of Material Utilized
A structure will withstand the test of time only if the quality of material utilized is the best available at that time. Quality is also based on information available about the resource, proximity of the resource, skill or expertise in utilization and abundance of supply for the task at hand.
Present Scenario– The quality of intake has deteriorated over the years is the common refrain. Well, what are we doing about it? The quality of Officer intake, Institutions like NDA, moral orientation, grooming, training have all gone down a few notches when we conduct a reality check. In more ways than one it is each one for himself.
"The entire system is functioning on arms/services concept. Integration, inter-service coordination is rare. Continued deployment of units in CI grid has taken a toll on Unit training. There is a shortage of Officers in Field areas. To top this all, there is lack of clarity in scientific training methodology."
Timely Intervention for Repair & Maintenance
Either the structure created is long lasting with no structural flaws or timely interventions for corrections, repair & maintenance need to be activated. The Army as a huge organization has developed vast structural flaws. The concept of war fighting itself has undergone a sea change.
War by other Means (WOM) are concepts being put to test by our enemies. The Army basically seams stuck in a colonial mode, training itself has not undergone much change, the basic training academies for Officers have yet not adopted modern concepts of training.
Present Scenario – the entire system is functioning on arms/services concept. Integration, inter-service coordination is rare. Continued deployment of units in CI grid has taken a toll on Unit training. There is a shortage of Officers in Field areas. To top this all, there is lack of clarity in scientific training methodology, sports medicine, specific syllabus for NDA, IMA etc. and what do we need of a future Military Officer.
Col Vinay Dalvi as the helms man & his team of structural engineers of 60 veterans has come out with path breaking ideas. They have written from experience & expertise with candor in a series of five Volumes, termed as the Victory India series. These contributors have the highest goal in mind i.e., strengthening the military might of India.
From recruitment to induction, grooming, training, management, leadership indicators, WOM concepts, sports medicine an entire gamut of modern & relevant topics have been debated, vetted, endorsed & verified have been covered in more than 163 articles. The map for restructuring is ready & presented in these volumes. Unit commanders & stake holders at all levels have to rise & start implementing these well researched concepts before it is too late.
(Col. PK ‘Royal’ Mehrishi (Retd), an alumnus of the NDA, has been an active Infantry combat leader for 28 Years. A qualified clinical psychologist, he is a prolific writer, author of several books, a TV panelist and a motivational speaker. In addition, he is a Harvard Business School product, certified in ‘Expert Negotiations’. He can be reached at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)