Back to Basics
Morale of the soldiers must be raised and for that a few corrective steps are needed

Morale of the soldiers must be raised and for that a few corrective steps are needed

When chief of army staff (COAS), General Bikram Singh took over as the head of the 13 lakh strong army on 31 May 2012, he was conscious of the extraordinary circumstances that had preceded his elevation. His predecessor, in his public fight with the government over his age row, had wittingly or unwittingly harmed the army grievously. The manpower, which is the real asset of any professional army, had been compelled to take sides: for or against the army chief, General V.K. Singh. Was their chief working for the army or simply for himself, was the question being discussed, in hushed voices, at all levels, from senior officers’ enclaves, to formation and unit messes, junior commissioned officers (JCO) messes, and soldiers’ langars. When the senior-most officer becomes suspect, the other officers could no longer remain above board.

Soldiers started wondering whether their own commanders were giving as much as they were taking away from them. Mutual respect between an officer and his command, which is the cornerstone of discipline, loyalty, morale and all values that make a soldier, was in short supply. A series of unsavoury incidences of indiscipline and command breakdown which made news in the media were proof of this. The units on the radar were 226 medium regiment, 56 armoured, 45 cavalry, 16 cavalry, 10 Sikh Li and 22 NCC battalion to name a few. To restore dignified soldiering and leadership, the COAS, on assuming command, gave the call of back-to-basics.

How does back-to-basics exhortation translate in tangible terms? In an exclusive background interaction with FORCE, a general who is authorised to speak on behalf of the COAS said that General Bikram Singh’s focus is on three things: availability of maximum officers in a unit; units should devote themselves to tactics which is the essence of training for them; and all channels should be open to soldiers to reach out to their superiors.
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