The crux of the problem is that in the trg academies , the entire focus is on sports and games or extra curricular activities. If you carry out an analysis of the last 50 courses which have passed out from IMA/OTA, you will find that GC good in sports pass out very high in the order of merit. This gives an greater advantage to candidates joining from the mil/sainik/ convent schools who have better skills at sports.
Isn’t it an unfair dis-advantage to our civilian counter parts who join from different back ground. Further if you carry out analysis of the offrs who have passed out from the academy with higher IC number and analyze their progression in the military career, you will notice that barring exceptional few, have made to the higher ranks of the army (sword of honour – Gen Panag, Gen Aditya singh etc are few cases, My course – sword of honour got superseded at the first promotion bd of Lt col ).
To reach higher in the military hierarchy , one needs more than sports, that includes sycophancy, Course grading, contacts and god father etc. Today’s, young officers are not ready to slog it out in the tps games and inter coy/sqn tournament but would concentrate on other aspects referred earlier. As CO, I was playing in first 5 in the Bn Basket ball team and my youngster were clapping from the stands. So we need to address these issues on priority. With ref to above, and you as the future up coming author of the mil writings , I recommend the following:
Read : 'What Generals are Made of' by American Maj Gen ---- I don’t remember his name. Fantastic book . Gen Eisonowar and Gen Douglas Mac’author were already playing for US Army rugby team and represented at Olympics while they were at West Point. The author has given out passing out course merit list at west point of top generals and where they reached in their glorious mil career.
Pl see the movie called “ We were Soldiers” starring Mel Gibson as the CO of an Inf Bn in Vietnam. By far the best war movie I have seen on projecting an army officer in combat and in peace.
Performance of Institution (IMA/OTA) depends on head of institution , I agree totally , but it is also true in the fmns as it is based on the personality of the GOC ( Gen Satur- sports, Gen Panag- trg, Gen A Ray- trg and devp , Gen atty- admin and works, so on and on --------). But this does not mean that they were not doing the mandatory trg and other requirements in the army. Similarly, the same rule should be applicable to the academies as recommended by you and no deviation should be accepted by AHQ.
PT and Sport Directives
❖ We can lay down PT/BPT standards in the academy, with out which GC can not pass out . I agree with ur recommendations.
❖ For NDA cadets , we need to apply different yard sticks as they are in adolescence formative age and there fore they must reach the basic stds achievable for entry in the armed forces academy. No over emphasis on achieving the impossible must be planned for the cadets and they should be given adequate time for rest and recoup. The experience at NDA for at least first 2 terms must be beautiful one which should anchor them for future scientific training. This will also reduce the number of withdrawals and medical cases due to stress fractures.
❖ PT Syllabus: I agree with you in this regards and we must avoid compressed training schedule. Some time the physical state of GC is extremely bad , who can not cope up with stress not only due to physical activities but also due to training activity which are equally taxing.
❖ Testing system: We need to have uniform testing system at all the academies, how ever the process may be flexible based on locations and type of entry.
Selection at Services Boards (SSB)
Comments on requirement of Physical stds at SSB.
❖ The process of selection at SSB is not at all transparent. We do not have any mass communication plan to attract the youth of this country. Today , there is large number from Middle / lower middle class candidates who aspire to join the armed forces, how ever they do not have any knowledge beyond applying for written exam through UPSC.
There is a total impasse when they are asked to report for SSB ( fear of unknown) . They are not even aware that they will be tested for PSY/GTO/Interview during the process. It must be brought out that most of them first take help of some retd officer or some academy which has mushroomed near by. They are not even aware that certain screening process will take place at the beginning of the SSB. We there fore must make the process transparent and ensure that all are aware what they are suppose to do.
❖ If we lay down certain physical criteria at the SSB, we must list them out from the beginning like we do for enrolment of Jawans, so that every one has equal opportunity and time to meet those criteria’s. This criteria on physicals, should be included during the screening process it self and only those found fit should be made to go through the balance of the process.
❖ Presently, the entire screening process is carried out with in 3 hrs from the time they report at the SSB, which includes the following:
o Batching of screening.
o Limited PSY test to include OIR test (IQ Test).
o Group discussion
o Final marks and confirmation for the Main SSB.
❖ The retention % after screening process is about 35-40%. It means that about 60 to 65% are rejected with in span of few hours. Are we doing justice to the candidates who have put in hard work to qualify in the written test for UPSC. We need to have two level test like that of IAS/IPS Viz prelims and main. We must allot adequate time for the first level screening to include physical standards, Psy, Planning exercise, group discussion , interview etc. We can even, out source this to pvt agencies ( Head Hunters) to reduce the burden on SSB.
❖ A refined, transparent and robust process will reduce our wastage rate in the academies since we will be able to weed out physically weak cadets at the screening test level it self.
❖ We should avoid taking shelter in the trainable quality as far as the physical stds are concerned especially at NDA. Yes , PT is an trainable quality to meet the requirement of the armed forces , how ever min take off point / level should be achievable at the screening process it self. I have seen my own course mates with mil background in the academy remained weak in this aspect and passed out with great difficulty with suitable links and pinks and were physically disaster in their mil service too.
The sport policies of the 1980 -1990 period have under gone major changes due to NA of officers in the Bn . This is also due to insurgency deployment in the state J&K and NE and officer courses etc. There are NO inter bde/ Div / corp /comd tournament held, as such the interest is lacking not only at jr but also at sr level. We must continue with our time tested policies.
Recommended corrective measures given by you are good and viable , how ever you have analyzed the short comings from the point of view of Physical training aspect at the academies and your experience with various training est. I would request you to have a fresh look at it from a inf bn CO prospective deployed in counter insurgency area or has just retuned from a long tenure to peace area and is looking fwd for R&R. There fore all such stds laid down should be an enjoyable experience. Some recommendations are:
❖ Encourage state of Art Gymnasiums with qualified instructors.
❖ Encourage selective troop games over a calendar year to avoid cramming up of sports events.
❖ Suitable training schedule for troops and officers.
❖ Officers games like golf, six aside hockey, Basket ball etc to be encouraged and included in the officers trg curriculum.