Saturday, September 10, 2016

Military Wives

Recently – I wrote a “Humor in Uniform” story  HOW TO WRITE ACRs 

( url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/09/humor-in-uniform-how-to-write-acrs.html ) 

Many Readers (especially Military Wives) appreciated Part 2 of this Fictional Story which described how an Officer’s ACR was ruined since he had an over-smart wife. 

This reminded me of a spoof I had written earlier on the “Moot Question”: 

Do Wives Still Matter in the Defence Services...?

Here is the article for your perusal and comments...

DO WIVES STILL MATTER IN THE DEFENCE SERVICES (Army, Navy and Air Force)?
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE


IS A MILITARY WIFE AN “ASSET” TO HER HUSBAND’S CAREER PROSPECTS...?

We were all sitting in the ship’s wardroom discussing the recently arrived Flag Rank Promotion Signal.

It was a big surprise.

There was a Captain who we all admired.

He was a true Sea Dog who was universally acknowledged as an outstanding professional.

We were shocked to hear that this highly respected officer had been passed over for promotion to Rear Admiral.

And what was worse – a non-descript “Armchair Sailor” who had spent most of his time pushing files ashore in the “Northern Naval Command” had been promoted.

The quirk of fate was being hotly debated with emotions being fuelled by the intake of generous amounts of whisky.

“Never go to sea if you want to get promoted...” an officer said.

“What bloody injustice! They ignore a smart deserving officer – and – they promote that stupid clueless dolt. Have you seen him...?” another angry officer said loudly in disgust. 

“Have you seen his wife...?” a voice was heard, from a dark corner of the wardroom.

I know what you are thinking.

You are probably imagining that she was a promiscuous sex bomb sleeping around and distributing sexual favours to get her husband promoted.

We thought the same thing too.

But a few days later  when we met the lady  we were in for a big surprise.

She was a most elegant, genteel, gracious and charming lady – an epitome of grace and poise.

She treated us with utmost courtesy and we were enchanted by her refinement, her polished manner and her dignified personality.

She was an embodiment of an ideal naval wife.

We normally say in Naval jargon – this sailor is an “asset” to the ship.

In a similar way  this wife was an “asset” to her husband’s career prospects.

She embodied the saying: “Behind every successful man is a woman”.

We realized that  sometimes  wives do matter.

Of course  someone told me that wives matter more in the Army than in the Navy.

That a lifelong confirmed bachelor could become a Navy Chief (and many single officers rose to high Naval rank) bears testimony to the fact that  at least in the Navy  wives did not matter that much  as far as an officer’s career prospects were concerned.

But  my late father-in-law – who was an Army Officer from the prestigious First Course of the National Defence Academy (NDA) (or 1st JSW – as he liked to call it) – he once told me that one of his most distinguished coursemates  who was a true professional army officer  and who had won gallantry medals for valour in war  this officer could not make it to the top  probably because he was a bachelor.

It appears that  in earlier days  as far as wives were concerned  there was a big difference between the Navy and the Army.

I really do not know whether things have changed now.


DO WIVES STILL MATTER IN THE MILITARY (ARMY NAVY AIR FORCE)...?

When you join the navy as a carefree bachelor  you don’t care  or you don’t even know  about these intricacies.

At least  in the 1970’s  when we were young officers on board warships  wives did not matter much.

Those days most of us were bachelors  and we were so busy sailing  that we hardly knew the wives of married officers.

Yes  if you were serving on board a warship  wives did not matter – what mattered most is how well you did your job.

I am sure it is the same in field jobs in the Army and flying duties in the Air Force.

Wives start gaining importance in “peacetime soldiering” – where professionalism takes a back seat – and other aspects start predominating.   

As we grew senior  we gradually realised – that wives do matter  especially in shore appointments and tri-service establishments  where there was more social interaction.

Please don’t misunderstand me.

I am not saying that your career prospects depended upon your wife’s attributes.

Far from it.

You had to be good in your job  and – you had to deliver results.

Let me put it this way.

Other things being equal  the officer with a “better” wife did stand a better chance of getting a good ACR.

Like beauty” is a subjective term (beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder)  the term “better” was highly subjective too  and – it depended on how you (and your wife) were perceived by your boss (and the “first lady”).

I think things must have changed now.

Nowadays  most Navy Wives pursue their own careers (it must be the same with most military wives too).

These modern career women  the “new age” military wives  have an identity of their own which is distinct from their husband’s identity.

They do not require the crutches of their husband’s rank for giving them status.

In fact  many working military wives earn more money than their fauji military husbands – and  many such working wives have better career prospects than their military husbands too.

Long back – for the traditional homemaker military wife  her husband’s career was the “be all and end all” of her life – and  all her efforts were towards boosting her husband’s career prospects.

Now  for a career woman married to a military officer – her husband’s military career may not be the “be all and end all” of her life – since  the working wife may have her own career ambitions.

Traditional equations have changed  and these modern career women may not be willing to kowtow before the so-called “senior ladies”. 

By the way – the term “Senior Lady” is a much misused misnomer.

As an old Sea Dog once succinctly said: 

There is nothing like “Senior Lady” in the Navy. 

Yes  there are Ladies who are Wives of Senior Officers  and that’s it...!

As far the world of military wives is concerned  another interesting thing has happened.

In the 1990’s – the defence forces opened their doors to women.

The advent of women into the hitherto aggressively male world of the military changed things drastically.

The opportunity for workplace intimacy within the cocooned military environment made it easy for male officers and female officers to fall in love with each other and have intimate relationships. 

(Owing to fraternization rules – Lady Officers are not permitted to fall in love with Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen – so – “workplace romances” generally happen between Male Officers and Female Officers)

The result of these “workplace romances” was that many men officers and women officers started getting married to each other – and this trend of “marriages in uniform” tends to be on the rise in view of the declining marriage prospects for defence officers – both male and female.

So now  we have a proliferation of a new kind of “fauji” wife (faujan”) – the Memsahib in Uniform – or  to put it more succinctly – the “Uniformed Memsahib”.


THE CHANGING FACE OF THE MILITARY WIFE

Look how things have changed.

1. First  we had the “full time” Military Wife – whose only identity was her husband’s rank.

2. Then  we had the working “CAREER WOMAN” Military Wife – who had her own separate identity – which had nothing to do with her husband’s military rank.

3. And now  we have the “UNIFORMED MEMSAHIB” – who has a military rank of her own – and if she prefers  she can flaunt her husband’s military rank too.


ROLE AMBIGUITY OF THE UNIFORMED MEMSAHIB 

For a “Uniformed Memsahib”  isnt there a confusing role ambiguity between her two identities:

1. Lady Officer
2. Lady Wife

What is her relationship with the so-called “senior ladies”...?

If you go by proper protocol  the official status of a woman officer is higher than that of a “senior lady” whose only claim to fame is her husband’s military rank.

Do these “Uniformed Memsahibs” attend AWWA (Army Wives Welfare Association) and NWWA (Navy Wives Welfare Association) and AFWWA (Air Force Wives Welfare Association) meets...? 

You may not believe this  but these wives welfare organisations  AWWA, NWWA and AFWWA – they have a rather “feudal” hierarchy  where a wife’s “appointment” depends on husband’s rank. 

Let us take a hypothetical case of a Lady Military Officer getting married to her Superior Officer  and – as a consequence  becoming a “Uniformed Memsahib”

What happens when a young Lady Army Officer (Captain) gets married to her Boss  a Lieutenant Colonel  who is commanding the unit...?

As the wife of the Commanding Officer – does the Lady Army Officer (a Serving Captain) become the “First Lady” of the Unit..? 

O does she remain an ordinary officer serving in that unit – commensurate with her rank as Captain...?

Like I said  is there a confusing role ambiguity when a female officer gets married to a male officer and becomes a “Uniformed Memsahib”.

I do not think it is true  but someone once told me long back that he had heard that a Lady Officer was appointed as an “ADC” to a Senior Officer’s Wife in her capacity as President of the Wives Welfare Association.

I do not believe this  but if such things are happening  it is indeed shocking  and in such cases  the women officers have themselves to blame for not maintaining the dignity of their rank.

The moot question remains:

In the “New Age” Military (Army Navy Air Force) – do Wives still Matter...

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
1. This blog post is a is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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