Military & Aerospace

Spineless staff officers are a letdown
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 01 Apr , 2015

Spineless servility of the staff officers has been the bane of the Indian military. The case of Adarsh Housing Society proves it amply. The land in question was under army’s possession. It was apparent to even laymen that the whole project was ill-conceived and murky. Yet, flats were obtained by three Chiefs and numerous senior commanders by all means, fair and unfair. Instead of cautioning them, compliant staff officers actively abetted the wrong-doing. True to their character, their sole aim was to keep their bosses happy.

It is rare to see a staff officer having nerve to speak the truth and risk his commander’s disapproval.

Most worrisome has been the cowardice displayed by the Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) at the Army Headquarters. The Military Secretary and the Adjutant General are top ranking staff officers with immense powers. Yet, when a parochial Chief wanted to tweak the process to favour his protégé, neither had the courage to oppose his decadent and wily machinisations. Their gutless conduct showed them to be unworthy of the high appointments they held.

Similarly, no PSO cautioned the current Chief against disbanding the Technical Services Division. Everyone knew that it was an act of vendetta.  Yet, senior officers willingly joined the errant Chief in depriving the military of a functional intelligence gathering outfit. Can there be a more serious anti-national act? As was expected, all abettors have been duly rewarded.

Equally surprising was the haste with which discipline and vigilance ban on a senior commander was lifted by the current Chief within days of assuming charge. It made a mockery of the complete disciplinary review process. The same staff officers, who had advised the previous Chief to impose the ban, quickly did an about turn and recommended its removal. They lacked courage to give honest opinion to the Chiefs and did what the Chiefs desired blindly. As is commonly said –‘servility has no spine and no limits’.

Staff Officers and Personal Staff Officer

Unfortunately, over a period of time difference between a staff officer and a personal staff officer has got blurred. Whereas an Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to a Corps Commander is a personal staff officer, a Col GS of a division or a BGS of a corps is a staff officer of the formation headquarters.

A formation commander can pick any officer of his choosing to be his ADC, who is often referred to as a ‘confidential assistant’. His only responsibility is to ensure that the commander is not encumbered by mundane administrative needs and is kept free to discharge his command functions. As he needs to render no advice, he needs no qualifications for the job. Earlier, sons and prospective sons-in-law were appointed ADC.

They should never forget that they are staff officers of the organisation and owe their primary loyalty to it.

On the other hand, a staff officer is selected for an appointment based on certain specified qualifications and criteria to oversee staff work related to his responsibilities. He performs three functions. First, he renders professional advice to the commander. Through meticulous staff-work, based on accurate and timely inputs, he suggests various options to the commander for well-informed decision making.

Secondly, he manages flow of information between the commander and the environment (subordinate formations, neighbouring formations and higher headquarters).

Thirdly and more importantly, he ensures that all administrative, operational and logistical needs of the subordinate units and formations are duly met. Thus a staff officer owes as much to the troops of the formation as to the commander, if not more. For that matter, if the interests clash, his loyalty should be to the troops and not to a transgressing commander.


When a Divisional Commander (Div Cdr) and his Colonel GS (Col GS) expressed diametrically opposite viewpoints at a Corps training seminar, everyone felt that the Col GS had senselessly risked his career by disagreeing with his Div Cdr publically. When quizzed during the lunch break, the Div Cdr’s retort took everyone by surprise, “The Col GS has a mind of his own. A staff officer is an adviser and not a parrot. I will feel very insecure if the staff officers do not give me the benefit of their knowledge and experience by expressing their opinion frankly.”

…when a parochial Chief wanted to tweak the process to favour his protégé, neither had the courage to oppose his decadent and wily machinisations.

The most distressing aspect of the above episode was the fact that the environment expected a staff officer to toe the line of his commander blindly without application of his mind. Worse, such dogmatic following is construed to be a sign of unflinching loyalty expected of a staff officer.

Compare the above with the institution of the much-admired German General Staff. Helmuth von Moltke is generally considered to be its main architect. He considered an acquiescent and compliant staff officer to be a greater risk than an enemy. He mandated that professional competence without strength of character to render honest advice was of little use. He expected a German General Staff officer to report the matter to the higher headquarters when convinced that his field commander was acting in a detrimental manner.

Unfortunately, courage of conviction is a rare trait in the military staff in India. It is rare to see a staff officer having nerve to speak the truth and risk his commander’s disapproval. As realisation of aspirations for advancement in career depends on a favourable report from the commander, most staff officers prefer to play safe and be yes-men. Instead of cautioning a commander against wrong-doings and skewed decision-making, most staff officers prefer to act as obedient and unquestioning followers.

Staff officers must resist the temptation of acting as personal staff officers. They should never forget that they are staff officers of the organisation and owe their primary loyalty to it. Staff officers who behave like spineless adjuncts to a commander are an anathema and a disgrace.

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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

Maj Gen Mrinal Suman

is India’s foremost expert in defence procurement procedures and offsets. He heads Defence Technical Assessment and Advisory Services Group of CII.

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47 thoughts on “Spineless staff officers are a letdown

  1. Respected sir ,
    I beleive that this malaise affects every institution,even the German general staff didn’t show spine during the time of the Third Reich ,except maybe Heinz Guederian ,the rest of OKW and OKH let down the German soldiers in the most abysmal way.Let us hope someone like Gen Thimmaya rises again in our army.

    • The problem is a lot more complex than is being made out to be. Some of the German generals displayed far greater spine in the presence of a mighty military dictator like Hitler, than our current lot of generals do even in a democratic set up like India, except for FM Manekshaw, Gen VK Singh and Sundarji. Military commanders like Field Marshal Rommel defied the Fuhrer several times. He tore up Hitler’s directive to execute captured commandos and retreated when the former ordered him to hold the ground in North Africa, against all odds, in a bid to save Afrika Korps. He also disregarded Mussolini’s order to execute Tunisian tribesmen who had murdered Italian soldiers for misbehaviour with their women folk.

  2. I believe this spineless officer quality is developing due to performance report by superior. I think this can be avoided by introducing performance report of every officers should be evaluated by two steps superiors and two steps juniors individually and sent confidentially to a career evaluation department. Accordingly his career should be decided. Forms of performance can be made for different steps of after due discussions by the authorities.

  3. Very true and also the relation between the officers and lower ranks are so bad its going to harm our nation in the long run, Now with the 7th pay commission further degrading the defense forces, it will be better including the current chief of army staff to wear a peon uniform and stand and salute the state police chiefs. This Gen who became the COAS by default, let down the status of the forces so badly.Only God can save our brave soldiers

  4. Hailing from an army background, I held the forces in very high esteem. The write up is really revealing in nature as it shows that sycophancy has percolated deep in the Uniformed cadres and these are not different from the Dhoti Clads and bureaucrats’ nexus’. Hindustan is an ancient Mandi; and it is the dalal- a broker who flourishes in a mandi. The concept of nationalism which is a middle and lower class euphoria is a farce……………Long live the dalals and the mandi!!!!!!!

  5. It has to do with the subservience of the Armed Forces to their civilian overlords, the Politician-Bureaucrat-Police-Judiciary-Crony-Preferred castes, tribes religions , Kleptocracy. Yatha Raja Thatha Praja. After losing the Keshavananda Bharathi Case and the bid for absolute totalitarian power, the Indira Gandhi Congress put in place a program of preferring officers on whom she held “files” of criminal wrong doing in every arm and branch from the Judiciary to the Armed Forces. This subversion has added to the inequality under law and exceptions to the rule of law, and “Many Nations” enshrined in the Constitution resulted in a culture that spread through India like a cancer making it impossible for persons of merit and integrity to hold their own and rise beyond glass ceilings.

  6. Due admiration to the General for having brought out the issue in such a lucid, dispassionate and forthright manner. Such spate of articles in the recently are in itself a reflection of the genuine concern and urgency of the soldiering community to see a change for the betterment of the organisation and therefore these sane advices must be taken rather seriously lest it is too late and the outsiders step in to correct the anomaly which would be painful and not to the liking of the organisation or requirement.

    Major General Parthasarathy Paul in the last line of his comments has it seems summarised and brought out that the real villain to be the factor ‘9’. It is this that has should we say has forced most to be servile. As those who have chosen the path of confrontation have had to bear the brunt, suffer ignominy and be removed from the path for ever with an inverted ‘9’. Therefore in such a scenario how is it that honest and upright can flourish. The main focus to remedy this, therefore should be a detailed deliberation as to how to correct the ill effects spread by the factor ‘9’.

    The most glaring recent instance to hit the army on the face, is the backlash on the (in)voluntary contribution for the flood victims promised by the chief. In normal course such an instruction or direction coming from the highest functionary would have been obeyed unquestioningly. However the action of non adherence and instead questioning by the command is unprecedented and should be taken as a clarion call for the organisation to mend its way.

    Hope sanity prevails. God bless.

  7. Sir,
    While I totally agree with your comments as far as courage of conviction is concerned I prefer to differ on your comment about the German General Staff. Though it is worthwhile to note that they had some of the most brilliant staff officers I wouldn’t rank them high for their courage of conviction as they ( at least most of them) blindly followed and implemented the orders of their Furher fully knowing that they were heading for a disaster.

  8. While I am no stranger to the Services way of life owing to the abundance of relatives and having lived in their midst at Secunderabad, a conversation between me and a group of JCOs and Jawans travelling with me from Delhi on a train took me by surprise.
    I was really perturbed by their near animosity for the officers. They went to the extent of telling me that it is their code of conduct, training and above all the culture that prevents them from bursting out.
    Their grievance was just what is brought out in the article. They literally classified the officers into two categories – the young and brash but with some humanity left and the other old, wily, selfish, vindictive etc with no consideration for anyone except themselves.
    There no longer is the admiration and genuine affection for the officers – what prevails is only fear of vindictive action.
    They went on to say that their social status among their own kith and kin is low especially in Kerala and Punjab where new found wealth of NRIs has taken over.
    I could only sympathize and listen. I sincerely hope that what I heard was the rant of some disgruntled elements and far from truth

    • Mr. Menon, I couldn’t resist replying to you. You are in many ways right in your observations about the relationship between Other ranks and Officers. I had the same experience when interacting with Jawans while travelling in trains in mid 1990’s (was a college student and son of army officer (selected from JCO rank). Some of them even said that if war happens, they would first shoot their own officers! In-fact, I heard this statement few times, but all during train travels. Something is not right with the way we treat our soldiers (not surprising given our prevalent feudal and hierarchical culture). It has to change.

  9. I am amazed to read Dalji’s comments. Either he has not read the full article or he read it with a preconceived mindset. He is never said that a staff officer should question or disobey a commander’s orders. His point is simple and has quoted the example of the Div Cdr. Staff officer has to render honest advic. He cannot be a party to illegal or wrong acts.
    People like Dalji and Rahul Gupta are incapable of arguing logically. They can only abuse and question a writer. Shows their own hollowness. Disagree with the writer with due reasoning rather than comments like “God knows from which Arm he is from sure definitely from any fighting Arm”. Shows their mental calibre. Shameful Rahul Gupta and Dalji. Are you capable of writing an article like this?

  10. Unfortunately the Indian Army has no courage – moral courage definitely not. We are part of the national psyche of appeasement. Words like ‘Tact’ , ‘ ‘Resourcefulness’, ‘Initiative’ and many others reflect the non confrontationist approach in our daily functioning and is appreciated and encouraged as ‘mature’ behaviour !!! Would like the author to introspect and highlight the instances where he has shown moral and professional courage during his service and what change has been brought about because of his actions. Its easy to discuss the ailments and write papers on them…yet NOT ONE OFFICER has been able to make a difference to the moral character of this organization, whatever be his rank and position – cdr/so/pso/rank and file….The bottom line for moral courage is ‘Nobody has it yet everybody gets a 9″….

  11. Rahul Gupta is right to a large extent and what does Gen Suman mean by Spineless SO Gen Suman has spent lot of time in procurement department so as to become foremost expert — a SOs job at the maximum is to submit various alternatives to his Commander and the commander may or may not choose any of the suggestions and order to follow an entirely different course — just imagine down the line during a company or battalion attack some junior chooses to question the commanders decision to attack from a particular flank — God knows from which Arm he is from sure definitely from any fighting Arm

  12. What is the price of dissent in the Army or in any uniformed service? If any staff officer were to point out any transgression to his superior, will the staff officer survive in the organisation? First and foremost, there must be a level of protection available to the subordinates if they have to perform their duties as mentioned in the article. Or else one can only expect a staff officer to behave like Ravan’s PSOs

  13. I admire the writer for such an honest and forthright and timely reminder. One needs courage to state the truth. It is easy to ignore everything and brush under carpet. Then you reach 1962 position. Problems must be faced and solved. They do not vanish themselves. Hiding problems to save name is cowardice. Timely action can stem the rot. Onlt retired officers can write and remind everyone. Serving officers’ hands are tied. Comment of Rahul Gupta is silly. Dispute the logic of the article. Very easy and mean to abuse a writer.

  14. I admire the writer for such an honest and forthright and timely reminder. One needs courage to state the truth. It is easy to ignore everything and brush under carpet. Then you reach 1962 position. Problems must be faced and solved. They do not vanish themselves. Hiding problems to save name is cowardice. Timely action can stem the rot. Onlt retired officers can write and remind everyone. Serving officers’ hands are tied. Comment of Rahul Gupta is silly. Dispute the logic of the article. Very easy and mean to abuse a writer.

  15. Dear Editor,
    The author could have not been more direct and pertinent than this and genuine admiration is therefore due. Pity is that those who he targets could’nt care less; they bash on regardless presenting a most miserable sight to us who still care for the olive green and its age old ehos. I am reminded of an anecdote from the Ramayna I feel like sharing.
    Ravan had called for a conference of his PSOs to discuss whether he should go to war with Ram or return Sita and avoid large scale blood shed. Realizing that Ravan had no intention to return Sita, all his PSOs went head over heels advocating immediate attack citing Ravan’s invincibility and Ram’s ‘monkey army’ being no match as reasons. Ravan was happy to state that his staff was with him.
    Sitting in the audience, Vibhishan, his younger brother stated, “These buffons, your PSOs, who are saying yes and agreeing to all your statements without reason, are not your well wishers but your worst enemies and will be soon the cause of your doom. Be aware of them, do not listen to them” .
    That Ravan did not listen to his brother is known to us all as also the consequences of his paying no heed to vibhishan’s sane advice.
    Notwithstanding, we must continue to point out. Author,s effort will be worth its while even if one SO pays heed and takes a stand in the right direction.
    Yours sincerely,
    Col Vinod awasthy

    • That’s good you have started reading Ramayan now it would have been better if you had started a little earlier when Ravan and his brother Kumbhkarna — Jaya and vijaya were Dwarpal of vaikunth in their earlier life and was cursed by four sages and Vishnu granted them a boon to fight him thrice (please search wikipedia) thus Ravan knowingly took the decision to fight Vishnu as Ram for the third time ( and as a corollary to above please also read and find the difference between Ram and Krishna)

  16. Hahahaha……Mrinal, I hope you have climbed up u r ladder with spine…..Ironically Once retired, everyone becomes a tiger, and talk of ideal policies without even thinking an inch about the organisation which made them Tall………..I only fail to understand why you guys do like this and bring disrepute to your organisation just for the sake of publicity to stupid articles you write….. ..It has become a fashion these days…. talk smthing controversial…. attract people…. gain instant publicity at the cost of the Organisation…..

  17. The article is meaningful, but most of the staff officers are posted with the concurrence of the Cdr. Indirectly all the staff officers are of personal choice of Commander to toe the line of his personnel vision. It will continue till the time importance of life satisfaction over life ambition is grilled into all officers, else QR of staff officers be made to superseded officers, both are difficult proposition.

  18. it is amusing to see such vendetta being spewed in a magzine like IMR,…. the article clearly seems to be like an off shoot of gen V K sings fiascos, …. blaming everyone out and sundry seems to have become his forte’… from placing blame on J&K ministers to the MoD and PM secretariate he seems to have now come on his staff officers in a desparate bid to save himself….. no boss can be so gullible to listen and follow his staff officers blindly. what Gen V K singh did are decisions he took in his own wisdom with or without the advice of his staff officers…A staff officer is happiest when a boss gives him a patient listening and takes his advices seriously, but that happens only when the boss encourages such a culture in his staff officers, …… else not many folks would want to go bang their heads against the wall…… all that honour and dedication apart. there is a lesson to be learnt from the present chief who till date has not been pushing personal agendas and been working towards making the army more potent and offensive

  19. The job of a staff officer is to take correct decisions based on his competence and experience,level at which he is operating which is related to accessibility of information,courage of conviction,irrespective of whether seniors are pleased or not.There is an anecdote/story where in an officer of the rank of a ,;Major; in staff was to endorse his remarks on withdrawal of a student Officer from a permanent course approved by a Commandant of a college of the rank of Gen Offr,the staff officer recommended it in affirmative,later when questioned had the answer I could not disapprove it as it was signed by a Gen Offr,losing the value of being in a higher headquarter poised with broader information on the career impact and the case of the young officer etc.Later agreed that his decision was only based on the seniority of rank of the individual from whom the recommendation was received. not on the merits of the case

  20. The Army or other sister organization never seem to learn. That artillery unit brawl in Ladakh or the brawl between Jawans and officers at Meerut has been hushed up. The Army is not as upright as we think it is. Although bribery cases right from the Air Chief down to several officers in the Army and a person of the rank of Lt. General working for an arms dealer and pushing bribes right up to COAS are indication of rut in all the three services. That famous case of a Lt. General during Kargil operations deliberately deny the battle honours to a subordinate senior officer had finally to be settled in the court. Since no action was taken against the offending Lt. General, all others commanders took the cue that it is alright to be stupid when rating the subordinate officers.

    Yes, staff officer can seldom be upright. He obeys his boss. If the boss is a crook then that black mark stays.

    I think that an upright officer personality example could be made right at the top. Yes, General Bikram Singh’s rapid promotion was stage managed by ex COAS(s) General JJ Singh and Deepak Kapoor. No enquiry can establish it the fullest extent as all conversations are private. One reason General VK Singh was getting bum rap during his tenure was that they wished him out sooner than later to give General Bikram Singh & General Suhag a better chance to succeed. You do not need a rocket scientist to conclude that the ex Army brass and the politicians were too eager to remove VK Singh from the COAS position. He was set up for confrontation.

    Now, who is the winner. There are no winners. General Vikram Singh and General Suhag may succeed very well (only a war conclude that) but the army overall has got a black eye.

  21. Like the article. More blame goes to the character of we-the Indians be in civil or defense. Gone bad to worst mid seventies onward. Individual ambition n greed are in fore front than the qualities like courage n conviction. Staff jobs r tricky n delicate since their loyalty is dual both to the cdr n organization. Practical n human angles clash. I feel, we will do well if character traits r given more importance for promotions of the CO’s n up words.

  22. I am retired (taken premature retirement in 2011) Marine Commando officer of the Indian Navy. I have this to share with people who are finding faults with their staff officers on this forum :

    There are so many cases where the senior officers or more particularly the IO (Initiating officer) of an upright staff officer have threatened him to toe the line with him. My IO or the so called my superior officer in the Indian Navy passed some interesting statements when I tried to be an upright officer.

    OiC Naval Diving School in 1995.
    “You may be doing a great job for the Navy but what matters is what me (my IO) and the Chief Of staff (my RO) thinks of it.”
    “I will show you when I write the ACR on you”
    “What can a superior officer do other than spoiling your ACR”

    OiC Marcos(East) Dec 1998.
    “The RO was not happy with the ACR I had given on you. He questioned me why I was keen to see you getting promoted ? Therefore with my hands shivering and with a heavy heart I had to reduce your promotion potential. To support this I had to insert a negative remark in the pen picture saying that the officer has a room for maturity.”

    The staff officer has no way to counter such senior officers, who want pliable staff officers under them. I am an ex-NDA officer. When I realised that this way I was not able to do any good to myself or the naval service I wrote a letter to the then Commander bringing out all the issues. I brought upon myself the wrath of whole naval system which harassed me for next 11 years. Finally I compromised and took favour from another senior officer, which I had been avoiding for so many years being an upright officer.

    What I want to tell is what this Major General Suman is writing is all trash. The fault lies with the Senior Officers who are petty minded and do not have the best interest of organisation in their mind. The Staff Officers are mere stooges in the process. Being from a Sainik School and NDA, I often think what else I could have done…Jai Hind.

  23. Retired officers should have a certain amount of responsibility towards the organisation. Quoting few incidents and saying that the entire cart contains bad apples is not appropriate. Indian army would not be what it is today if we actually had spineless staff officers.

  24. I have been following both the previous & the current chiefs closely. I am yet to hear Bikram utter anything that smells of vendetta. On the other hand, the utterings of the previous Chief are in public domain. The ban on Suhag was more likely an act of vendetta, & the lifting of the ban merely restoration of justice.

  25. After so much had been said & written about TSD, perhaps it was in order to have it disbanded. We may not know the results of the inquiries so soon, but it does impinge on Army’s well nurtured image to continue with the organisation. The nation needs to be re-assured that the Army does not have a political arm, which the TSD potentially was.

  26. I mean this TSD thing intrigues me. Such potency has been attributed to an organisation comprising 25-30 officers & men! What accomplishmentsdid this TSD achieve? Infamy? Bringing a bad name to military intelligence and the army in general!. Questions about its funding, shady charter and modus operandi are still being asked. No wonder the authorities decided to close it. Absolutely sound decision, staff officers or no.

  27. In a democracy the mandate of the Army is defined. Trespassing into the domain of other agencies is neither warranted nor desirable.The TSD is evidently outside the mandate of the Army and the spine of the staff officers has nothing to do with it.

  28. An army in a democracy is expected to fulfill it’s mandate and not trespass over other’s domains. Whatsoever the reason all agencies of the government have to stick to their mandate. Unity of command and of effort are sacrosanct for good governance and to avoid confusion. The TSD clearly is outside the military domain and has nothing to do with spineless staff officers.

  29. as per the author it seems like a typical case of finding a scapegoat. how can one palm off the blame to staff officers. the day commanders in the army forget the essence of “the buck stops here” will be the end of a cohesive army. as in the navy: where the saying goes that the captain goes down with his ship, the army too has a culture where the commander is held responsible for all commissions and ommissions… when a soldier performs well in a competition or operation, its his commander who takes the pat on the back …just like he takes the blame for their mistakes.

    commanders not taking responsibility for their actions is the nadir of military leadership and character.

  30. Indian Army is this country’s greatest strength and we have responded every time with great elan and pride and happens to be the country’s last bastion. The organisation could not have remained the last bastion if we had spineless staff officers. The author refers to few incidents which can happen in any organisation. The duty of staff officer is to advise, however the decision to act upon remains solely with the commander.

  31. I agree with you on the cancerous growth of the all accepting staff officers. These chronic yes men are the reason why today loyalty is more important than competence in choosing staff officers. It is an institutional malice that has only grown with time. While some of us did impose faith in the current Army Chief in setting things in order, he proved to be just another.
    I have done my time but its sad to see the reality today.

  32. the second half of my comment

    (d) After this comes the issue of the lifting of a DV Ban on a senior CDR. Did for one moment the author consider the fact that the ban must have been unfairly imposed with a bias in mind. Could not the Cdr have over-ridden the advice of the Staff Officer. In this case who could have the Staff officer reported the matter to. The Author may pl elucidate. BY the author’s reasoning any allegation of HR violation or discplinary violation in the AOR of a senior Cdr – Div and upwards- must result in the Senior Cdr being blamed for not excersing proper Command and Control even if he had no direct influence on the operations.
    The Army is a great organisation which has always risen to the need of the hour whenever called for and delivered the goods. Every organisation has its “bad apples” and they are but what must be remembered by all is that it’s the Services alone which acts stringently against its delinquents – something no other organisation in this country does. A Staff Officer can at best offer advice on a particular decision, which can never be binding on the Cdr, for he must by and large act in the best interest of the organisation. There are aberrations everywhere.
    Just a last thought. Retired officers must take care that their writings do not harm the very fabric of the organisation which made them what they are, for I feel this is what this article is doing. The STAFF OFFICER has an ONEROUS TASK. Do not make it more difficult for him.

  33. The author has brought out that the Staff Officer renders advice in terms of options available for dealing with a particular sit, keeps the Cdr abreast with the pulse of he environment and ensures that the reqmts of the sub-ordinate fmns/units are met. What the author forgets that the decision to act is that of the CDR over which the STAFF OFFICER has no control. How does the author know what the advice given in the particular situation was unless he is privy to more details which the should divulged to prove his case.
    My take on some of the instaces related to by the author to highlight the servility of Staff Officers is:-
    (a) In the Adarsh case the Staff Officer (from the info generally known to the environment) was an active party to the scam, so the question of cautioning the CDR in this particular case is non-existent.
    (b) Take the so-called “succession incident”. There were discrepancies in the General’s birth records being maintained at various branches at the Army HQs. The matter should have been resolved much earlier, but was allowed to linger by vested interests. Just a point of interest. The General could have raised the issue of his age from the very beginning of his tenure but suprisingly, for reasons best known to him, chose to only “air them” as he neared retiring. I am sure if he had taken the environment into confidence the matter could have been dealt with in a better manner. Why blame a Staff Officer for a decision taken by the CDR.

  34. The article Only talks about specific incidents. One cannot generalise the case for all officers. There are numerous incidents wherein staff officers have stood up and spoken against the wishes of senior commanders for the organisation.

  35. I wonder if the general is right in vindicating the doer and castigating the changer! Why doesnt he blame the staff officers who permitted the then Chief to vindictively target a senior Lt Gen (Corps Cdr at that) with a disciplinary stick to prevent him from becoming an Army commander? I mean it was so obvious…..even to a man with limited intelligence. Also no words about the misuse of TSD! I mean if it was so effective, we should have retired a few corps and created 5-6 TSDs in lieu! Ridiculous.

    While I agree with the author’s line on spine less staff officers, I think he is using the article to settle some personal scores!

  36. A well researched view backed by facts and exposing the ghastly mindset of staff officers that is doing more harm to the defence forces of contemporary times than anything else. Nonetheless, there are quite a few SOs (though their breed is rare)
    who place organisational interest at a much higher pedestal than their personal careers and render a frank logical and fair advise to their commanders.

  37. A very bold admission and true picture of the Indian Army staff officers. They can go to any extent to please the Boss for a good ACR. However the Bosses are playing their part carefully and see through. Therefore the officers who speak their mind out without caring for the small annoyance also go forward with equal ease and competence. In fact the picture of the so called staff officer is a chosen path and each one of the course-mate can predict about the classification of his c/mates falling in which category. Very few of the privileged get to work the so called important staff appointment. These are only few and only the selected few have the honor to be in.

    There are two distinct division of officers in the lower order one very classy done all Alfa……and go for few years to unit and back to plum appointments others majority fall in the category of Bravo and charlie…good soldiering and keep grumbling about every thing happening around. Very few from this class make their way up and they are different in their approach and behavior.

  38. Well the General has a point there. Indian Army does not encourage sane or correct advice. It encourages servility in its ranks. There is a common saying ‘young officers are supposed to be seen and not heard’. So in the end everyone ends up playing the game. Its who beats the other to it. Bright and intelligent officers get sorted out by the time they become Colonels. Beyond that rank there is a free for all – subservience, sycophancy, play the ball etc etc . The situation is real bad in the Army today. Professionalism is out, its a big buggers muddle in the Armed forces. The sooner there is a course correction the better it is for the Army and this nation. We are substandard in our Command Criteria. This is for the Army ” lets stop this free for all culture and get our beans right’ The fault lines start from the top and percolate down. There is a definite rot on the top.

  39. This paper is a great education to a layman about the working of the COAS office. The whole process of instituting discipline on senior commanders and then withdrawing it, appears to be compromised. A serious lapse seemed to have occurred in winding down the Technical Services Division; it did not have to be disband – it needed to be transferred to other intelligence agency. The whole process probably has compromised a few brave men who risked their life to gather intelligence in the neighbouring country which other agencies could not gather, only to find later that they have been dumped. It was a pure vendetta.

  40. Granted the PSO’s are spineless , but the seniors of the serving General from the Academy could have exerted pressure , written about the matter in public domain, debated on news channel on the disadvantage of discontinuing with the Tech.Services Division , needless to say that the General would become a Ex Serviceman in a couple of months from now …….then what ?????????

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