Army has been getting a hammering in the media. Some for good reasons but some unjustified. Kindly be fair lest we do unsurmountable damage to this critical institution of the country.
Some of my friends in civil society will be surprised to know that the Army does not provide suitable raincoat to equip its troops. The quality of uniform and lots of other equipment is worse even than Bangladesh or Sri Lanka - let alone some of the nations of sub Saharan Africa. If one was to see the army soldier dressed in a faded combat dress or mismatching shirt and trouser please don’t blame him or feel sorry – it’s provided by the aspiring super power. Army is not as well-equipped as it should be even on such basic issues such as uniform, shoes, boots, combat equipment or life jackets - in spite of the fact that adequate capability exists within the country. That’s the bitter truth, which is little known outside the uniformed people.
There was a recent article regarding Army Commanders of Northern and Eastern Command responsible for wasting hundred core plus by purchasing equipment from Army Commanders Special power fund. Power vested in Army Commander to procure such equipment, which needs priority purchase and follows a longish procedure, could be detrimental to operational or safety of troops deployed in extremely hazardous conditions.
It also must be appreciated that our country and babudom has more loyalty to the processes and procedures rather than the outcome. That’s how the procurement of aircraft or guns, so crucial for the defence of the nation, takes ten to thirty years for induction.
The Army Commander is advised by a financial expert who ensures that there is no loss to the state and money allotted is optimally spent but again his loyalty is towards the procedure more than the operational ramifications. For him, time is of little consequence but procedure is. It also needs to be appreciated that when you have to face the Chinese you need to know their equipment, and there is no security in binoculars or goggles. Computer and allied equipment yes but binoculars—this is sheer stupid logic. Could someone for God sake look at the larger picture and not ruin a fine organisation.
The Commanders who are responsible for operational efficacy and safety of troops take the best possible decision in the existing constraints. To criticise the Army Commander would doubt his integrity and professional judgement. If that be so, then he is not fit to be head of the force that can be trusted, therefore should be removed from command.
Rather than Ministry take charge of this power and enforce further delay as stated by the Defence Minster, thereby giving an impression of integrity or professional competence doubts, it is of utmost importance that the political leadership has faith in the senior officers and don’t get carried away by reports of auditors. These reports do serve a purpose what must not be taken as the gospel truth; even the Supreme Court has recently clarified this aspect in 2G scam.
Army has its share of black sheep but it has a huge percentage of honest and sincere officers akin to civil counter parts. My request is haul it over the coal when there is corruption but do not contribute to demoralising it or make it a victim of procedures.
The defence forces will not let the nation down if you trust them but should it be ram shackled with procedural delays a repeat of 1962 China debacle may repeat itself. We all need to be part of the process of helping the army and stop its demoralising – what ISI and foreign hands should be doing let us not be their partners.