There is a very apt Latin terminology called ‘Ultima Ratio’. In essence, it means the final argument or also the last resort. It was inscribed by King Louis XIV on his canons and implies that war and army is the last resort of Kings. In modern day nation state, the armed forces are instruments of last resort and thus it makes strategic and pragmatic sense to use them sparingly and rarely, especially so in a policing role. Their shock and awe aspect can only be felt if their lethality, training and well honed tactics are allowed free play within well-established SOPs. It must also be apparent to all that, one cannot, and should not mess with the army and hope to get away with it. This must be the price that we all should be willing to pay to safeguard the Ultima Ratio of a nation state. This must be even more pertinent in India given the sterling and proven track record of the army.
I am reminded of a stray incident of my service days. During the line inspection of my unit as CO by my GOC, I was pointing out to him the need for a proper wire fencing to prevent civilians from trespassing our lines. Tongue in cheek the GOC remarked, that in his days once civilians came to know of an army encampment nearby, they normally changed their routes out of fear and dared not be seen in the vicinity of an army unit! We on the other hand have, by allowing the police and para military forces to copy us in dress and weaponry, diluted ourselves to such an extent that the fear, distinct ethos and overall look of the army has been severely dented. It was thus with shock and much sadness that I saw an army column on IS duties in my vicinity carrying placards stating they were ‘The Army’. This state of affairs is not only unacceptable but I believe a grave fault
line, detrimental to the health and wellbeing of our nation state. It is therefore my considered opinion that it is the urgent duty of the top leadership of the army to pursue this aberration relentlessly and with urgency resolve it. Not only should all police and para military personnel be prevented from wearing/copying army uniforms and accruements but same must be rolled back where already in force. This is to be done not as an ego issue or a game of one-upmanship, but a national security imperative to be understood with maturity and sagacity.
AS A NATION, WE MUST ASSIGN EACH ORGAN OF THE STATE ITS LEGITIMATE RESPECT AND SPACE; ONLY THEN CAN WE BE SURE THAT WE CAN CONTINUE TO PROSPER, GROW AND SURVIVE AS A NATION. IN THESE SCHEME OF THINGS, THE WEAPON OF LAST RESORT MUST BE NURTURED CAREFULLY AND USED TO EFFECT ONLY WHEN INESCAPABLE.
It is in this context that one must view the case of Maj Aditya and the firing in response to the stone pelting of an army convoy. The constant use of the army and the non-army like response of other security forces masquerading as the army has so dulled the collective conscience of the people that they find a well armed army convoy a legitimate and easy target! It must be amply clear that an army entity moving on its duty cannot be attacked by anyone without facing the consequences therein. While the principle of good faith, minimum force and a determined effort to avoid collateral civilian casualties/damage should be the touchstone of army operations, on the other hand the army must hold its own and not allow itself to be trivialised. This is in our own national interest. As a nation, we must assign each organ of the state its legitimate respect and space; only then can we be sure that we can continue to prosper, grow and survive as a nation. In these scheme of things, the weapon of last resort must be nurtured carefully and used to effect only when inescapable. Till then, we in the army must zealously be distinct, potent, do our duty without fear and yet be above reproach! Jai Hind.