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 young age when most young people have other attractions that offer comforts, luxuries, and adequate compensation and wealth multiplier opportunities?
Serving in the defence Services is a way of life, the basic qualitative requirements are a strong courage of conviction, positive frame of mind, ability to prioritize and take rational decisions.
The selection centers for the officer cadets have a well-designed approach which test a candidate for his intelligence quotient, social quotient, emotional quotient, and adversity quotient.
Grooming a mind
The candidates are put through psychometric tests, group tasks, command tasks and an interview with the Selection Centre President. It may seem easy, but 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. However, he now has to undergo a rigorous training.
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, map reading, 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 hall mark of an infantry man’s capabilities and the basics of setting up an ambush, operations of war of advance, defence, attack, and withdrawal are taught.
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. Drill instills a sense of pride and is the foundation of discipline. It also helps in improving the turnout and bearing and obedience to the word of command by a collective body of troops.
Another important value that is developed is a sense of the team sprit which later manifests itself through esprit –de – corps.
The military way of life
On completion of the training the cadets are commissioned and posted to various combat arms, combat support units and logistics units where they are imparted training specific to their role, primary and secondary tasks; in each operations of war as detailed above.
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 refines 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 defence 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 defence 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.
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.
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 remains apolitical and places the Constitution of the country foremost. As Field Marshal Philip Chetwode famously stated; “the safety, honour and welfare of the country comes first, always and every time’.
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 defence services, is a constant and needs to be guarded against compromising its combat capabilities, efficiencies and core values.