Military & Aerospace

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

“¦the military must inform society about its capabilities at hand; and not merely attempt to reassure that it will fight with what it has got. Deficiencies in defence preparedness are too stark to ignore or brush under the carpet.

[T]he professional soldier should never pull his punches, should never let himself for one moment be dissuaded from stating honest estimates [of what] his own military experience and judgement tell him will be needed to do the job required of him. No factor of political motivation should excuse, no reason of “party” or political expediency could explain such an action.5

No military officer must forget that he is a citizen first and a soldier second, and that the troops under his command are an instrument of the people’s will.6 The military is an arm of the people as it is a volunteer-force. Hence, military professionals must speak out; they must counsel political leaders and alert the public that there is no such thing as a war fought on the cheap. The Army must make the price of involvement clear before we get involved, so that the country can weigh the probable costs of involvement against the degree of non-involvement. This cannot be done by adhering to a notion of the military as a silent order of monks isolated from the political realm.

[I]t does not follow that the proper level of involvement by the military in political matters must be total abstinence. The military establishment deserves a fair hearing in the political arena as do other establishments. . . since each provides services to the community that need to be explained and funded.7

While the ethos of the military profession itself tends to bind most officers to a set of principles and values, military officership is a profession, not simply a vocation. This means that members of a profession accept certain values specific to their profession, which are more fundamental than other values. To this end, it is the duty of the military to keep itself professionally competent and technically honed:

No amount of modernisation of arms, equipment, tactics and organisations can produce results unless we have the right kind of man in the right state of mind, manning the system.8

The bed-rock of elan is the professional competence of individuals and leaders, and the faith, confidence and pride in the effectiveness of the group – the section upwards, to the Army as a whole.9

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Col Harjeet Singh

Col Harjeet Singh

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