Thursday, February 19, 2015


Military Jargon or Nebulous Gobbledygook?
Musings of a Military Veteran

OLQ – Military Jargon or Nebulous Gobbledygook ?

If you join the defence services  the Army, the Navy or Air Force  as an Officer  you will hear a term of Military Jargon being bandied about freely – OLQ – which is the acronym for OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES

OLQ is a most nebulous term.

In my long naval service  I asked many officers to precisely define OLQ.

Most gave generic answers  but no one was able to precisely define OLQ  or clearly specify what exactly constituted OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES

Everyone had his own subjective concept of OLQ.

To me  OLQ seems a bit of gobbledygook.


So  by its very definition  OLQ pertains only to OFFICERS.

This means that Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) like Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen are not supposed to have OLQ.

Maybe they are supposed to have SLQ (Soldier Like Qualities or Sailor Like Qualities) or ALQ (Airmen Like Qualities) et al

Does this mean that if you are an Officer  you automatically have OLQ.

Are some individuals born with OLQ.

Or is it vice versa – that you develop OLQ once you become an officer.

Some soldiers/sailors/airmen are promoted from the ranks to become officers.

Does this mean that till they were soldiers/sailors/airmen they did not have OLQ – and the moment they got promoted as officers – overnight they acquired OLQ?

It is all very confusing.

So, let us delve a bit deeper.


What is OLQ?

What are the “Officer Like Qualities” required in a Naval Officer?

Do you want to know the answer to this question?

It’s simple.

Now  have a look at Question No. 3

What kind of “Officer like Qualities” are required for commission in the Navy?

Now click on the Question and read the answer provided:

The candidates who successfully pass the competitive examination conducted by the UPSC, are interviewed by the Services Selection Boards. Officer Like Qualities of a candidate are assessed during these interviews, which last for about 3 to 4 days. In broad terms, the ability of an individual to withstand physical and mental stress, leadership qualities, determination, fighting spirit, clarity of thought, expression, resolve and overall suitability is assessed during the course of the interview.

I am paraphrasing below the relevant extract of the above answer which defines OLQ or Officer Like Qualities:

In broad termsOfficer Like Qualities or OLQis the ability of an individual to withstand physical and mental stress, leadership qualities, determination, fighting spirit, clarity of thought, expression, resolve

(Please note that even here  OLQ is not defined precisely  but the concept of OLQ is explained only in “broad terms”) 

Does OLQ focus more on PERSONALITY rather than CHARACTER ?

From the definition of OLQ given above  it appears that the focus is on “personality” rather than “character”.

It is surprising that core value-based inner qualities like truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty, forthrightness and integrity are not considered “Officer Like Qualities”.

Is OLQ all about personality?

What about Character Traits like Ethics, Moral Values, Honesty and Integrity?

Are these positive character traits not considered OLQ?

Are these not being assessed by Services Selection Boards?

If OLQ means having a good personality but excludes character traits:

Is it okay for an officer to have a good personality – but be morally corrupt?

Is this the reason why so many scams, scandals and acts of moral turpitude are taking place in the defence services in which many senior officers have been alleged to be involved?

Should OLQ include ETHICAL FITNESS ?

Do you not feel that sound immaculate character attributes and unblemished ethical qualities are an essential part of OLQ?

Are these moral qualities of character not more important than the personality traits mentioned in the definition of OLQ given in the Navy Recruitment Website?

What is your view?

Please tell us.

Do you feel that Ethics, Moral Values, Honesty and Integrity are not essential “Officer Like Qualities”?

Do you think that an officer need not be truthful, trustworthy, honest and forthright under all circumstances?

Do you feel that concepts like “code of conduct” and “honour code” are outdated ideas of the past and have no relevance in the current environment?

Or are you of the view that  in today’s modern world  to succeed in the defence services  an officer needs to be “street smart” rather than straightforward?


Does OLQ mean “street smartness” ?

Street Smartness is the shrewd ability of how to survive or succeed in any situation using any means.

Street Smartness requires you to Morally Pliable”  or to use an euphemism – to have Tact”.

So  does OLQ boil down to outwardly having an Officer-like personality”  and inwardly being “Street Smart” ?

Is this how we want our Army, Navy and Air Force officers to be ?

Do “Character Attributes” like Ethics, Moral Values, Honesty and Integrity have no place in OLQ?

Do we want “tactful street-smart officers” who shine outside but are hollow inside?


If one goes by the answer given in the Navy Recruitment Website which lists the “Officer Like Qualities” which are assessed during the Services Selection Board (SSB) Interview  it seems that officer candidates are not being assessed for “ethical fitness”.

When you select an Officer for the Defence Services:

You assess intellectual fitness (UPSC Examination – NDA/CDSE/Naval Academy).

You assess physical fitness (SSB).

You assess “psychological” fitness (SSB).

You assess medical fitness (Military Hospital).

But do you assess Ethical Fitness ?

Why does OLQ not include “Character Attributes” like Ethics, Moral Values, Honesty and Integrity?

Why is “Ethical Fitness” not being assessed by SSBs ?

Is “Ethical Fitness” not a part of OLQ ?

Do we want military officers who are “ethically unfit” ?

It all depends on the moot question:

What is OLQ ?

I hope some military veteran will enlighten us on this moot point:

What is the meaning of OLQ?

Do Officer Like Qualities only comprise personality attributes and not character traits? 

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The above post is an updated version of my post WHAT IS OLQ - THE DEFINITION OF OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES posted by me on this blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal on Saturday, July 6, 2013 

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