The recent surge in incidents that bring bad name to the Army must result in an introspection in the Army, more so in the senior ranks – Army being a hierarchical organization. What all ranks of the Army need to keep at the back of their mind at all times is that the nation has enormous expectations from its Army and its level of trust in the Army’s capability to deliver is near total. We cannot afford to betray that trust and let out countrymen down.
Before we begin to think of ways and means to improve our functioning, an analysis of why things go wrong would be in order. Why there are incidents of fake killings to garner awards? Why human rights violations, shameful incidents of rape and torture and an alarming increase in the tendency to go to civil courts to seek redress?
“¦the Army personnel come from the same society where an erosion in the value system is constantly taking place for various reasons. Consequently it is difficult for the Army to remain completely immune to these corrupting influences
Of course one must not think of the Army as a pristine white organization which is the epitome of all that is good and noble. And that is part of the problem. The nation by and large expects the Army to be so and therefore whenever aberrations occur; there is widespread horror, disbelief, and condemnation far more than that will happen when a politician or a civil servant is involved.
There is a requirement to accept that there has been a decline in the discipline, ethos, culture and ethics of the Army. There are two main reasons for this. First the Army personnel come from the same society where an erosion in the value system is constantly taking place for various reasons. Consequently it is difficult for the Army to remain completely immune to these corrupting influences. These can only be minimized by the training, culture, ethos, regimental system and traditions of the Army. These need to preserved and nurtured at all costs. Second and more damaging is the Army’s continuous involvement in Counter Insurgency Operations.
Army has two well defined roles. Its primary role is to defend the nation against external aggression and secondary role is to assist the civil administration in internal security duties and in times of calamities. Unfortunately in the last fifteen years or so, Army’s involvement in Counter Insurgency Operations in J&K and in the North East has increased manifold. This has been detrimental to the Army’s ability to perform its primary role. But more than that, continuous involvement in Counter Insurgency role has played havoc with the Army’s training, regimental ethos, culture, traditions, peace field tenures, its human rights record and its very self belief. Counter Insurgency operations by their very nature demand a close and continuous interaction with civil population in insurgency prone areas where at the best of times the local population is sullen and resentful of security forces even if it means tacit support to the militants.
“¦in most cases the man in uniform is fighting with his hands tied behind his back in order to avoid collateral damage. This results in a very high level of stress and sense of frustration”¦
Why are counter insurgency operations so difficult? Firstly because there is no well defined enemy whom the Army is trained to fight. Secondly in most cases the man in uniform is fighting with his hands tied behind his back in order to avoid collateral damage. This results in a very high level of stress and sense of frustration often resulting in human rights violations. Of course for the terrorist there is no such constraint as human rights – something the bleeding hearts often forget. While use of minimum force against your misguided countrymen is understood and justified; what about the increasing number of foreign mercenaries operating in J&K and often the line is blurred.