Military & Aerospace

The Military Must Find Its Voice
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Issue Vol. 26.4 Oct-Dec 2011 | Date : 05 Dec , 2011

The voice of the military must be heard if it is to serve the nation effectively; especially at a time when the reigning ethos of the civilian culture appears increasingly hostile to professional military ethos”¦

Today, a wall exists in India between the military and politics which deny current reality. The Indian domestic milieu and the international strategic landscape are, and have always been, politically and militarily inextricable, as the use of military force has always been shaped by political considerations. If the skill, wisdom, and experience of the officer corps is to be tapped by the national leadership, the military profession itself must be philosophically broadened and encouraged to involve itself judiciously in the policy arena.1 This includes a greater sensitivity to the realities underpinning the Indian political system, and more assertive presentation of the military viewpoint within the parameters of Indian democracy.

In order to set political minds at rest and to allay any fears that the media may have, it is important, at the outset, to mention views expressed, which still retain value as military credos:

The Army is there to serve the Government of the day, and we should make sure that it does not get mixed up with party politics. A soldier is above politics and should not believe in caste or creed.2

Yet, when in 1951, General Cariappa, delivered a lengthy warning to Nehru about Chinese military pretensions, he was bluntly told it was not his job “to tell the Prime Minister who is going to attack us where”.3

The Army’s apolitical character was reiterated by General Thimayya:

My experience taught me that a country’s armed services should be an instrument, but never an arbiter, of national policy. The history of countries whose military men were not taught to be apolitical shows what disruptive influences they sometimes can be.4

However, the military brass in the decades after independence was not following a military tradition when they kept their silence and followed the civilians’ lead:

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Col Harjeet Singh

Col Harjeet Singh

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