Military & Aerospace

Army: Management of Human Capital - I
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Issue Vol. 26.4 Oct-Dec 2011 | Date : 22 Dec , 2011

“Human Resource Development is an essential command function and, in this context, it needs to be understood that the soldier of tomorrow has to be an innovator who can combine imagination and knowledge with action1” —Indian Army Doctrine 2004

…a detailed investigation into the Human Rights violation cases involving Army personnel revealed that only 54 cases out of 1511 cases received since 1994 have been found to be true. 129 persons have been suomoto punished by the Army in these cases. The punishments awarded by the Army are severe and exemplary, including dismissal from service with life imprisonment. Our consistent efforts to reduce Human Rights violations cases have been successful and there has been a sharp decline in such cases from a high of 176 in 2002 to only 12 so far this year. Every effort is, therefore, made to ensure that no collateral damage takes place whenever any operation is undertaken, nor is an innocent ever targeted.

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Emergence of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as the single largest party in the April 2008 elections seems to have, however, disrupted the bonhomie that existed between the two neighbours. It has also led to the emergence of a strong and visible anti-India lobby in Nepal.

The diverse socio-economic environment prevalent in the country and its ripple effect on various sections of the society has had a profound impact on the Armed Forces of the Nation as well. The Army, which constitutes its largest component, is undergoing a transformation which is not just confined to the fields of military doctrine, operational concepts and application of newer technologies, but has also transgressed into an area which impacts its very foundation-the soldier. As the Nation marches towards economic prosperity and the associated resurgence to emerge as a key player in the international arena, there is a need to concurrently focus on consolidating its Armed Forces into an extremely cohesive, modern and potent force capable of meeting the challenges likely to confront the region. Adequate focus therefore, needs to be laid on revamping the Army, into a highly motivated, optimally equipped, modernized and operationally ready force, capable of functioning in a joint services environment across the entire spectrum of conflict.2

Human Capital Development in the Army is an extremely vital issue because the strength of the organisation has always been its soldier. It has been aptly said that institutions do not transform – its people do; platforms and organizations do not defend the Country – people do; and units and formations do not sacrifice and take risks for the nation – people do! It is therefore, evident that without highly skilled, competent and dedicated soldiers in its rank and file, it matters little how lethal the weapon systems are or how strategically responsive the field formations are trained to be, but what is vital is the men behind the weapons who are also the prime enablers of the strategy.

Given its size, diversity and complexities, the challenges that confront the Indian Army, when it comes to management of its Human Resource element, is a gigantic one. The enormity of the task can be gauged from the fact that the Army has about 12 lakh serving soldiers3 in its rank and file and it also has to cater to the needs of over 22 lakh of its veterans who have retired from service. While the organizational structure of the Army has a few characteristics that are similar to what obtains in most large scale commercial organisations, to include hierarchies and functions, leaders and followers, teams, meetings and strategy sessions, what is special and distinct about the Army is the very high emphasis on ‘delivering the goods even at the cost of laying down ones’ life. Also and more importantly a sense of social obligation and responsibility is ingrained into the organization at all levels. This makes the Army the last bastion and invariably the most reliable asset that the Nation can fall back upon during the hours of crisis.

Given the enormity of the tasks that it (Army) has to perform, it is imperative that it is manned by individuals who have a sense of responsibility, professional expertise and loyalty both to the Nation and the Organization.

As a major component of National Power4, the Army alongwith the Navy and the Air force is entrusted with the primary role of preserving National interests and safeguarding the Country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity against external threats, either by deterrence or by waging war. It also has a secondary role of assisting Government agencies to cope with ‘proxy war’ and other internal threats and also providing aid to civil authorities when requisitioned. Given the enormity of the tasks that it has to perform, it is imperative that it is manned by individuals who have a sense of responsibility, professional expertise and loyalty both to the Nation and the Organization. Orchestration of human resources in the Army, therefore, needs to be accorded the highest priority so as to unleash the full potential of the men and material who constitute the organization.

Turbulent Global Environment

The socio-economic and security backdrop in which the Armed Forces are operating in is getting more and more complex with each passing day. Numerous events over the last two decades like the end of the Cold War and disintegration of the Soviet Union, 9/11 followed by the ‘Global War on Terror’, nuclear proliferation, unprecedented economic growth of China and India and the economic meltdown of 2008 have radically altered the global security environment.5 The ripple effect of these events has affected most countries around the world, leading to drastic changes in the global inter-linkages, regional alignments and readjustment of security dimensions.

Future wars are likely to be short and intense and will witness the employment of high tech weapon systems with comparatively larger scales of damage and destruction.

Globalisation, economic inter-dependence, revolution in military affairs, unipolarity, terrorism, phenomenal growth in information technology and other internal practices have thrown up fresh challenges for most nations. Globalization has also ensured that no country remains insulated from the turbulences mentioned above. It is therefore, imperative that our Armed Forces evolve with the changing times and maintain a level of preparedness in consonance with the Nations stature as the dominant regional player.

Troubled Neighbourhood

India finds itself in a neighbourhood where countries are experiencing considerable systemic dysfunction. A number of these have significant ramifications for India given the artificial borders, common eco-systems and strong social affinities that exist with its neighbours. Most of these countries have been nation states for only five to six decades and many of them have emerged from several years of internal strife, colonialism and all of them also suffer from poor governance. India’s relations with all its neighbours are complex for a variety of reasons with security underpinnings attached to them. Its relations with Pakistan have been fraught with tensions and are pitched against a nuclear backdrop. The unsettled border issue in Jammu & Kashmir coupled with the endeavour by Pakistan to keep India engaged in low intensity conflict as a means of getting her bogged down in a state of low level equilibrium has only worsened the relations. Fresh signs of strain have appeared after the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul and the 26/11 Mumbai carnage. The raison de etre for the creation of Pakistan was the two nation theory & hence this stance has very little chance for change.

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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

Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal

Former Adjutant General, Indian Army.

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One thought on “Army: Management of Human Capital – I

  1. Dear Mukesh !!!
    I feel that you are the same Mukesh, I knew 45 years ago as younger brother of Rakesh, my class mate in B.Sc. at Jodhpur. At that time your father was custom collector at Jodhpur. If that is true, please contact me at e mail pareekrg@gmail.com or phone 01334231144 and 09897107945. Thank you and with best wishes
    Ram Gopal Pareek, Haridwar

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