Proposal For Study Of ‘Selection’ & ‘Training’ System Of The Officer Cadre

Proposal For Study Of ‘Selection’ & ‘Training’ System Of The Officer Cadre


(a)   ‘Third Wave’ by Alvin Toffler  by Warner Books 1987

(b)   Crisis in Command : Mismanagement in the Army  by Richard A. Gabriel and Paul Savage.

(c)   Military Incompetence : Why the American Military Doesn’t win by Richard A. Gabriel

(d)   War and Anti war by Alvin Toffler and Heidi Toffler by Warner Books, 1994

(e)   On the Psychology of  Military incompetence by Norman E Dixon

(f)    Victory India –a key to quality military leadership (2013) by Col Vinay B Dalvi (retd), published by Pentagon Press, New Delhi.

(g)   Role Model - a key to character development (2010) by Col Vinay B Dalvi (retd) ,published by Pentagon Press, New Delhi.

(h)   Follow me-1 : The human element in leadership by Aubrey S. Newman

(i)    Follow me-2 : The more human element in Leadership by Aubrey S. Newman

(j)    Made to Lead by Colonel Karan Kharb, published by Wisdom tree (k)-Psychometric testing in the Armed Forces- issues &challenges – DIPR publication by Pentagon Press


1. In the recent past, the subject of ‘selection and training’ of the military leadership has been seriously debated and discussed in the Indian military circles. The main focus has been officer cadre, who makes the bulk of middle level and higher military leadership. In fact, the debate started with the publication of two books titled ‘’Victory India’’ &’’Role Model’’, authored by a concerned officer, Colonel Vinay B. Dalvi, with varied experience. He has, through his pioneering work, addressed the issue of deteriorating standards of ‘Selection and Training’ of potential military leaders. He has particularly drawn attention to the selection and cadet training at National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla. The three Services (Army, Navy & Air Force) have been individually pursuing the subject to extract optimum benefits to their respective Service. This is a positive sign.

2. However, it seems there was no concerted effort made to address the problem, where it matters most, i.e.NDA---the mother of tri-service military leadership. The reasons are very obvious, for, the tri-services institute is apparently nobody’s baby. Rotatory appointments of the Commandant, Deputy Commandant- cum- Chief Instructor, Battalion Commanders and Squadron Commanders right up to Divisional Officers, makes it difficult for the real efforts to be made. The system suffers from lack of continuity and individual whims and fancies of individuals from three services. The basic problem is caused by “multiple bosses”, who father the institute. The supervisory and controlling body of NDA, Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), too, is not an effective agency due to rotatory tri-services appointments of this agency. These problems were not so grave earlier, when the Director General Military Training (DGMT), as Chairman of JTC, was the one point supervisory/controlling agency, which ensured at least some uniformity and continuity in the training and administration of NDA.

3. In order to enable NDA to reorient and revitalize itself, there is a need to institute a study by a team of tri-service body to validate, ratify and endorse the consensus and findings of “Victory India” and recommend a final official course of action to be adopted by all concerned agencies involved with the selection and training processes. To put the study on the right track, it is of paramount importance that the aim, terms of reference and scope of this study be spelt out in unambiguous terms. The final end users and their representatives in the three Services, too, should be a part of this exercise. This would enable arriving at sound and feasible final recommendations, which would comprehensively address the existing drawbacks and ensure speedy and effective implementation.


4. The aim of this proposed study is to find ways to improve the quality of the Military

Leadership of the three services, with special reference to the present ‘selection processes’ and the ‘training systems’ being followed in the ‘basic military training academies’ and the ‘finishing military academies’ of the three Services, keeping in mind  the socio-military environments, militating against the grooming of modern military leadership.


5. In view of the prevalent socio –economic and geo-strategic environments of India, as explained in the books, “Victory India” and “Role Model”, it would be pertinent to :-

(a)   Spell out the desirable attributes of military leaders in the transforming profile of the modern battle field from Fourth Generation Warfare to NBC environments.

(b)   Identify the shortcomings in the ‘Selection and Training’ systems on account of various reasons viz. technical, medical, scientific, administrative and ignorance related as brought out in the books, under reference.

(c)   Inquire into these findings of the book and bring out the truth as relevant on ground presently.

(d)   Bring out effective and practical solutions to the existing shortcomings and drawbacks with a road map for improvement of the quality of intake of candidates, the standard of training and the end officer product for the services

6. It is evident that a rigid mindset still exists where people stick to irrelevant and unwanted traditions and thereby fail to match up with the actual requirements of the times. The latest and more sensible scientific findings in the world, in all related fields, need to be followed rather than sticking to rigid, senseless and whimsical traditions amounting to hazing or ragging!


7. How important is the leadership in the armed forces for the defense of the nation? How important is the need for selecting and grooming these leaders? This is a process with a large gestation period and is often put low in priority, but it is vital and a critical factor for the future of the nation.

8. Ultimately the nation and its people provide the candidates who will lead in the armed forces. Therefore, if the nation stops producing honest, brave and selfless men, there is little hope for the nation in the future. But that may not be the issue in India. The various traditions in the nation still continue to produce patriotic and inspired soldier material. With the majority of the Indian population being young there is also a great advantage in the present context.

This manpower advantage needs to be exploited by reviewing the Selection and Training systems. In the selection stage the focus must be on improving the intake benchmarks and procedures. In training the focus must be on improving the vision and quality of what is expected to happen at the various academies.

9. It has been amply debated and discussed that the present system of selection and training for the Armed forces has been found wanting because of its antiquity. The book “victory India “ has demonstrated  and established as to how negligence here can have an impact on the future security needs of the nation. A spectrum of writers who have had deep and varied experience in the field of training and have even spearheaded important appointments in the hierarchy of the system have placed their concerns before the nation.

Amongst the authors who are part of the book those who have been on the ground and seen things first hand have expressed that processes can be done better. Some have even expressed grave concern that if something radical is not done it may lead to a grim future. In any case, the positive side is that they have indicated some directions that need to be taken up if change must happen for the good.

10.       The focus has been on the cradle of leadership, the NDA. The NDA was visualized a centre of military excellence by India’s founding fathers, aided by some visionary thinking and guidance at the behest of the departing British apex hierarchy. That India remains a free, sovereign nation whose military with one solitary exception, has ensured the country’s defence at the cost of thousands of soldier’s lives is due primarily to the peerless contribution made by generations of NDA trained officers.

11.       It is a truism of history that all good and great Institutions remain good only if they are periodically updated, reviewed and fine-tuned in line with changing realities. The NDA, semantics aside, has seriously regressed on this account. In recent years, issues of lack of propriety and soldierly ethic; physical and mental fitness; un-officer like behaviour at all levels indicates that decline has set in and has not been tackled with sense and sensibility. Handling issues in a ‘fire-fighting’ mode helps only temporarily and leaves a ‘sting’ behind to add to the residual inefficiencies that have now crept into officer

selection, training and even handling at our training academies; the NDA being affected the most as the cadets enter early and are most affected by both good and indifferent inputs.

12.       The problems that affect all aspects of functioning of the NDA in particular; from UPSC entry test to commissioning have been examined at length in two books;’ Role Model’ and ‘Victory India’. Both suggest that the problems are complex; require synergized thinking and are best handled at the level of the Chairman Chief of Staff Committee (COSC) and his Secretariat, HQ IDS.


13.       It ought to be noted that issues pointed out in “Victory India” by the veterans is by no means exhaustive. It is only first step towards betterment, although it contains a wealth of information, on which the present officers/leaders must enrich themselves. With this material as the foundation, they must create a systematic study of what ails the system and affect corrections that are due.

14.       The logical way out is for the concerned authorities to conduct, first, a detailed study of the subjects of ‘selection’ and ‘training’ with the findings of the book ‘Victory India’ as the ‘Theme Paper’ and ‘foundation’ to base the study upon.

15.       Victory India is a fairly advanced study with views from eminent persons who have seen the system through and through and have manned positions in it with distinction from the lowest to the highest levels of officialdom specifically in selection and training and in general in the armed forces. The study may only need to adequately ratify the findings of the Victory India as repeated by many authors. The numerous repetitions serve to amply underline the shortcomings. The concerned agencies involved must institute their own studies into the contents of concern in the book to further validate the findings.

16.        The agencies for selection(SSB/DIPR),training(Military Academies),supervisory and controlling HQs such as IDS, ARTRAC, DGMT ,DNT, ACS TRG/AF and also the end users (the units, squadrons and regiments)must also play their part to have better officer material coming to them. The study must comprehensively address the existing problems with the full involvement of all the concerned agencies..Besides this the study must include internal and external experts and specialists in relevant and concerned fields to generate a well-informed and acceptable final opinion/views which are practical and feasible for implementation both as short term and long term measures or recommendations.

17.       Some of the important issues, which the study must attend to, are :-

(a)   Emerging form of war from “Brute Force” to “Brain force” Wars and the impact of technology upon them. Alvin Toffler Contends in “War and Anti-war” that “Third Wave” Combat involves far more than pulling a trigger. Third waves wars are the “Smart Wars’, fought by “smart Soldiers. He further explains: If war was ever too important to be left to the Generals, it is now too important to be left to the ignorant-whether they wear uniform or not. It is therefore significant to upgrade technical knowledge of potential military leaders.

(b)   Factors militating against effectiveness of military leaders as commented upon by Alvin Toffler in his book, “Third Wave” to say that the failure of modern leadership was not because of lack of traits but the breakdown of institutions on which the leadership edifice stood.   We all know that Indian soldiers came from joint family system in rural areas.

However, joint family system has given way to nuclear family, thus affecting the individual values. Besides, ‘sky waves’ and ‘communication’ technologies have enhanced the awareness level of young men joining armed forces. They would no more act like soldiers of the “Light Brigade” who marched into the “valley of death” on the clarion call of the leader.

(c)   Conflicting needs of military leadership in conventional and non-conventional wars, such as “Brain Force Wars”, “Niche Wars” or even ‘Fourth Generation’ warfare.

(d)    Minimum Desirable Skills (MDS) at “Execution Level” of leadership to be honed at NDA and the equivalent Naval/Air force Academies in order to avoid the ills of overloading them at the entry level. Their “professional peaking” would be generally pre-mature.

(e)   Striking a balance between Educational and Military education in line with the primary objective of pre-commission institution. Military does not need Einstein but it must be staffed by “Kautalya”, the master strategist of ancient India.

(f)    As above, balance the need for physical fitness with mental robustness. Military does not need “Horses” but it does need “Foxes”.

(g)   How to diminish the ill effects of materialistic society on the young minds as they scramble to join NDA and equivalent Naval/Air Force academies. It would be pertinent to spell out as to how to insulate them.

(h)   What should be the criterion for the educational and military instructors to be posted in NDA and the equivalent Naval/Air Force academies? Should they be young officers, who evoke brashness and glamour or senior but mature officers, with wealth of experience.


18.India’s military leadership stands much to gain from a serious study of its selection and training systems of its officer corps. With more than half the country’s population being young, there is undoubtedly a tremendous scope for tapping better and more suitable material in the form of  talented, spirited, patriotic young men for our critical military leadership needs.’Role Model’ and ‘Victory India’ has authoritatively and elaborately identified the detailed flaws and shortcomings in the system.

The Army,Navy and Air Force have officially accepted the relevance and importance of  both books and recommended these for all their service libraries.Unfortunately, the biggest stumbling block for improvement and positive change is our  own ‘comfort zone’ and ‘status quo syndrome’, which continues to hinder/hamper the speedy implementation of corrective action. Hence, the need of the hour is to rapidly spread the ‘awareness’ of this subject at all levels of our military  leadership.

This would surely change/ transform our ‘status quo’ mindset and remove the dense fog of ignorance of this vital  subject. It should  be appreciated that either you accept and support the projected line of thinking and recommendations of  the books or counter the same with your own/individual arguments,logically and scientifically as have been  put forth by multifarious personalities with varied expertise ,qualification and experience.

19.An official, detailed study at this juncture by a capable, competent and cohesive body/ team of inter –services/national level under the overall  control, supervision and direction of a one point supreme authority/agency- viz:- the ‘’Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee’’ will enable the formulation of the study group/s and also ensure  the production of an official/formal and binding document  with  acceptable ‘findings’ and ‘recommendations’ on various intricate/technical  aspects of this vital subject by all concerned.

Such a study was long overdue and the time to fulfill this critical need has arrived. The ground work for such an elaborate study has already been done with all the reference material readily available .It is now up to the highest military leadership  to grasp and utilize this golden opportunity to fulfill the critical quality manpower needs for our elite military officer leadership for years  if not for decades  to come !-

‘’An idea whose time has come is stronger than all the Armies in the world !’’ says Victor Hugo. -    Victory India !


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