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, placing social agendas above military preparedness on its list of priorities. John Keegan said it best:

Soldiers are not as other men—that is the lesson I have learned from a life cast among warriors. The lesson has taught me to view with extreme suspicion all theories and representations of war that equate it with other activity in human affairs… War is fought . . . by men whose values and skills are not those of politicians and diplomats. They are those of a world apart, a very ancient world, which exists in parallel with the everyday world but does not belong to it. Both worlds change over time, and the warrior adapts in step to the civilian. It follows it, however, at a distance. The distance can never be closed.12

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The outlook towards the military went at a tangent soon after Independence. General SM Shrinagesh, the Army Chief, summed up the situation:

“Amongst the political leaders, the general feeling grew that the army would neither be required to defend our borders nor employed in aid to civil authorities, in maintenance of law and order. New India’s political leadership started believing that the country could do without the luxury of an army, or perhaps make use of this disciplined force for assisting the national government in its developmental plans – in agriculture and similar operations! Events a few years hereafter were to bring out the bankruptcy of the concepts and thought of national security as major shortcomings of that attitude; but it was gaining strength at that time, as I was soon to learn.”13

The understanding of the soldier’s role and outlook was succinctly expressed by General KS Thimayya:

“A soldier’s problems today stem from the fact that, now, the irresponsible use of military force could destroy the human race. A soldier therefore has greater responsibility to society than he ever had before in history and his duty is to learn to carry that well. To this end, his experience, or training, must make him into the kind of citizen who is beyond narrow attachments to class and province and above the passions of political conflict.14

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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.

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Col Harjeet Singh

Col Harjeet Singh

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