Saturday, August 10, 2013



From time to time, you come across media reports that there is a shortage of officers and soldiers in the army.

Yes, there may be a shortage of officers in the army.

But it seems that there is certainly no shortage of “armchair generals” – politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats, academics and “analysts” and “experts” of all hues – most of them living safely and comfortably in Delhi.

(Of course, after the numerous cadre reviews, there seems to be no shortage of uniformed generals as well, in our top heavy army – but that is another story.)

It is apparent that most of these “armchair generals” have not served in the defence forces, the army, navy, or air force.

I wonder how many of these armchair generals have their children serving in the defence services.

Maybe this is the reason for the insensitive comments they make from time to time about our soldiers.

Is it true that a politician said that soldiers are paid to die? (or something to that effect)

Some politicians were boasting that our soldiers were ready to sacrifice their lives for the nation.

It is easy to ask others to sacrifice their lives – but are you ready to sacrifice your own life?

I wonder whether these politicians are ready to sacrifice their own lives for the nation.

I wish these “armchair generals” heed the words of General Bradley (commander of the largest army ever in World War II) who, in his autobiography A Soldier’s Story, says:

“Unless you value the lives of your men, unless you feel what they are going through, you’re unfit to command”.

These armchair generals need to grasp the psychology of the combat soldier who lives every moment in trepidation with death tagging him at the elbow and survives each day in an environment of dread and fear.

Unless these armchair generals become genuinely compassionate to the troops they will remain distantly removed, both spatially and emotionally, from the soldiers.

Maybe if these “armchair generals” spend some time in the combat environment with the soldiers and face the same dangers, they may be able to empathize better with the soldier.

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