Civil-Mil­i­tary Re­la­tions — Widen­ing Gap

The mil­i­tary-peo­ple re­la­tion­ship in most lib­eral democ­ra­cies re­flects a com­mit­ment in the for­mer and pride, faith and trust in the lat­ter, for each other

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - BRI­GADIER S.K. CHAT­TERJI (RETD)

The mil­i­tary-peo­ple re­la­tion­ship in most lib­eral democ­ra­cies re­flects a com­mit­ment in the for­mer and pride, faith and trust in the lat­ter, for each other.

Bri­gadier S.K. Chat­terji (Retd)

IN THE EARLY HOURS of Septem­ber 18, 2016, Pak­istani mil­i­tants staged an at­tack on an In­dian Army camp at Uri in the state of Jammu and Kash­mir (J&K). The at­tack­ers used in­cen­di­ary grenades to light up tent­age hous­ing sol­diers lead­ing to 17 deaths in­stan­ta­neously and two more there­after. All four ter­ror­ists were also killed. A pall of gloom de­scended on the na­tion. Ev­ery In­dian was also itching for an ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse. The ri­poste, 10/11 days later, sur­prised both the In­dian cit­i­zen and the Pak­istani es­tab­lish­ment. Seven ter­ror­ist launch pads lo­cated across the line of con­trol (LoC) that di­vides J&K and Pak­istan oc­cu­pied Kash­mir, spread over a 250-km frontage, were near si­mul­ta­ne­ously as­saulted by In­dia’s Spe­cial Forces. The burn­ing trail left be­hind by the forces as they ex­e­cuted a clean ex­tri­ca­tion was ap­prox­i­mately 30 dead ter­ror­ists and Pak­istani mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

The In­dian po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment for­ever at each other’s throat in a coun­try peren­ni­ally in the elec­tion mode, for­tu­nately uni­fied be­hind the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion. When the roots of such un­usual co­he­sion are an­a­lysed, the con­clu­sions again point to a sharp eye that politi­cians have on their vote banks. There would barely be a voter on the elec­toral lists who would have voted for a po­lit­i­cal party crit­i­cal of the In­dian armed forces at this junc­ture. Such is the link­age be­tween the In­dian peo­ple and the armed forces.

Mil­i­tary-Peo­ple Re­la­tions

The mil­i­tary-peo­ple re­la­tion­ship in most lib­eral democ­ra­cies re­flects a com­mit­ment in the for­mer and pride, faith and trust in the lat­ter, for each other. It’s the peo­ple giv­ing their mil­i­tary a very spe­cial so­cial stand­ing that have armed our young of­fi­cers and sol­diers to brave the risks of be­ing con­stantly in op­er­a­tions (wars and in­sur­gen­cies) since in­de­pen­dence. This in­cludes the op­er­a­tions along the LoC to fight the ter­ror­ists try­ing to in­fil­trate from Pak­istan-oc­cu­pied Kash­mir (PoK) an in­ten­sive on­go­ing op­er­a­tion since 1989 when Pak­istan de­cide to fol­low the strat­egy of “bleed­ing In­dia with a thou­sand cuts”. While in­duc­tion of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and equip­ment upgra­da­tion of the armed forces are ex­tremely im­por­tant for achiev­ing op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the morale of the men who man the equip­ment is the ul­ti­mate bat­tle-win­ning fac­tor; an old adage that is as good as an ax­iomatic truth. In the words of Sun Tzu, the fa­mous Chi­nese scholar, “He will win whose army is an­i­mated by the same spirit through­out all its ranks.”

Politico-Mil­i­tary Re­la­tions

Hav­ing es­tab­lished the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the peo­ple and the mil­i­tary briefly, it’s time to shift the fo­cus to the gov­ern­ment; both the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and its ex­ec­u­tive ma­chin­ery — the bu­reau­cracy. In the In­dian con­text, the armed forces are quite di­vorced from pol­icy for­mu­la­tion. The in­ti­mate in­ter­ac­tion of the na­tional lead­er­ship with the armed forces so preva­lent in the func­tional mod­els of de­vel­oped coun­tries, is not fol­lowed in our con­text. The meet­ings of the three Ser­vice Chiefs with the Prime Min­is­ter are oc­ca­sional at best. The chasm that it cre­ates al­lows greater ma­noeu­vre space to the bu­reau­cracy whose pen­chant at cre­at­ing mis­chief and go­ing against its own mil­i­tary is well known. While all min­istries gen­er­ally sup­port their own de­part­ments, the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) is fa­mous for tak­ing de­ci­sions to the detri­ment of the mil­i­tary. A re­cent case in point is the let­ter num­ber A/24577/CAO/CP Cell dated Oc­to­ber 18 is­sued by MoD which fur­ther down­grades mil­i­tary ranks and has raised a huge con­tro­versy as re­ported by the Hin­dus­tan Times on Oc­to­ber 25, 2016. The let­ter has, it seems, been is­sued with the sanc­tion of the De­fence Min­is­ter. Whom should the mil­i­tary ap­proach in the in­stant case?

The fall­out of such dis­tanc­ing was also laid bare by the re­port of the Sev­enth Cen­tral Pay Com­mis­sion which has been un­fair to the mil­i­tary and has put the mil­i­tary on par with the Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces. The ef­fort at down-gra­da­tion com­menced in the Third Pay Com­mis­sion and has con­tin­ued down­wards since then. Most cit­i­zens wouldn’t be aware of the ex­is­tence of such dis­par­i­ties as they are never in­formed about the back­ground be­cause the me­dia too re­ports from the Pay Com­mis­sions Re­port which it­self is faulty be­cause the armed forces views are never taken se­ri­ously in bu­reau­cracy con­trolled com­mit­tees. It must be equally dif­fi­cult for our cit­i­zens to com­pre­hend that a civil­ian bu­reau­crat’s al­lowances in Shil­long can be twice that of a ser­vice of­fi­cer in Si­achen! The equa­tion is so grossly mis­matched as to re­quire an or­ches­trated cam­paign to ed­u­cate the com­mon cit­i­zen of such stark anom­alies that have been grad­u­ally in­tro­duced into the sys­tem by the civil­ian bu­reau­cracy. Need­less to say that the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and some chiefs of the armed forces at the helm have also un­car­ing through the years!

The Third Pay Com­mis­sion re­duced the pen­sion of jawans to 50 per cent from 70 per cent preva­lent then. The Fifth Pay Com­mis­sion fixed the pay of Deputy In­spec­tor Gen­eral of the po­lice forces be­tween a Lt Colonel and a Colonel. The Fourth Pay Com­mis­sion brought the DIG at par with a Bri­gadier. The Sev­enth Pay Com­mis­sion rec­om­mends higher scales for a DIG as com­pared to a Bri­gadier. Where are we headed? Can we put to­gether the qual­ity of armed forces that will be able to drive our geopo­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions with such degra­da­tion in sta­tus and pay­off its of­fi­cers and men?

The Sev­enth Pay Com­mis­sion has in­tro­duced wide and un­usual anom­alies as far as the armed forces are con­cerned. Non-Func­tional Scale Upgra­da­tion has not been granted to the armed forces un­like the other cadres. Mil­i­tary Ser­vice Pay for Ju­nior Com­mis­sioned Of­fi­cers and Other Ranks on the same scales is a joke. Dis­abil­ity pen­sions have been tam­pered with to a pro­nounced dis­ad­van­tage for de­serv­ing cases. When viewed in the con­text that such ben­e­fits are given to those wounded or ag­gra­vated due to op­er­a­tional rea­sons, the rec­om­men­da­tions seem pre­pos­ter­ous. A com­par­i­son with what a bu­reau­crat will be given for dis­abil­ity, the whole ex­er­cise looks like a big farce.

The De­fence Min­is­ter has ap­pointed a com­mit­tee to go into the var­i­ous as­pects, how­ever most of these anom­alies are so bla­tant as not to re­quire an­other com­mis­sion to study and pro­vide the an­swers. An eru­dite De­fence Min­is­ter and non-par­ti­san bu­reau­cracy can take a de­ci­sion by them­selves. Most such com­mit­tees in the past have lan­guished with­out any sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion.

Pro­fes­sional Mil­i­tary Ad­vice

In the cur­rent con­text the meth­ods of wag­ing wars have changed. To­day we talk about con­ven­tional wars, fourth-gen­er­a­tion wars, asym­met­ric, hy­brid and proxy wars; all of them call for pro­fes­sional mil­i­taries to pro­tect their na­tion’s bor­ders, peo­ple, in­sti­tu­tions and val­ues. This pro­tec­tion is a com­plex task and is to be un­der­taken through de­lib­er­ate plan­ning and strat­egy for­mu­la­tion for var­i­ous types of con­tin­gen­cies. Re­spon­si­ble na­tional lead­er­ships of demo­cratic na­tions that face com­plex threats and chal­lenges take steps to pro­tect their in­ter­ests by ob­tain­ing pro­fes­sional mil­i­tary ad­vice at the high­est lev­els. Let us take the ex­am­ple of the Amer­i­cans. The Chair­man Joint Chiefs of Staff has di­rect ac­cess to the US Pres­i­dent. The Pen­tagon of­fi­cials brief the US Se­nate Com­mit­tee on armed forces in their hear­ings reg­u­larly. The same holds true for tes­ti­monies by com­man­ders in com­bat zones like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

We have an in­sti­tu­tion­alised sys­tem in place but it does not work. Though the De­fence Min­is­ter does meet the three Chiefs reg­u­larly or when­ever re­quired, the Chiefs have hardly any in­ter­ac­tion with the Prime Min­is­ter. In the bar­gain, nei­ther are the re­quire­ments for op­er­a­tional readi­ness di­rectly con­veyed to the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive who is the Prime Min­is­ter nor are is­sues that af­fect morale of men like pay and al­lowances and sta­tus of the armed forces per­son­nel brought to his no­tice. To ex­pect the De­fence Min­is­ter to con­vey it all to the Prime Min­is­ter is hardly pos­si­ble given the wide rang­ing du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the Prime Min­is­ter, and of­ten, a lim­ited grasp of the is­sues con­cerned.

The Supreme Commander of Armed Forces is the Pres­i­dent of the na­tion! The na­tion still awaits the Supreme Commander ever cham­pi­oning the forces on such cru­cial is­sues.

Lack of Mil­i­tary Rep­re­sen­ta­tion

De­lib­er­ately iso­lat­ing the mil­i­tary from the is­sues which ef­fect their func­tional ef­fi­ciency and their mo­ti­va­tion is detri­men­tal to over­all mil­i­tary ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency. It is a fact that the armed forces which rep­re­sent one of the largest organised body of gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees has not had a sin­gle mem­ber in the pay com­mis­sions since in­de­pen­dence, and thus wide dis­par­i­ties have crept into the

In the In­dian con­text, the armed forces are quite di­vorced from pol­icy for­mu­la­tion. The in­ti­mate in­ter­ac­tion of the na­tional lead­er­ship with the armed forces, so preva­lent in the func­tional mod­els of de­vel­oped coun­tries, is not fol­lowed in our con­text.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with the of­fi­cers and jawans of the In­dian Army at Si­achen Base Camp

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