Saturday, August 27, 2016

Is Military Leadership Losing Moral High Ground...?

Are Senior Officers Losing Moral High Ground...?

Military Musings by Vikram Karve

Recently I heard a few young officers expressing their frank and honest opinions about senior officers.

Their comments were far from flattering – it seemed that senior officers had lost respect in the eyes of their junior officers.

These candid remarks reminded me of a small article I had posted a few years ago on the importance of officers having moral ascendancy.

So – I am posting the article on moral ascendancy” once more for you to read...

Military Officer Like Qualities (OLQ) = MORAL ASCENDANCY
Ramblings of a Retired Navy Veteran

As a young officer in the Navy  I used to ask myself:

“If I remove my badges of rank  then why should a sailor willingly obey me...?”

The answer I gave to myself was: 

“A sailor will obey me if he respects me.

And – to respect me  the sailor should feel that I am “better” than the sailor.

Yes  an officer will be respected by his men only if his men believe that the officer is “better” than them.

Those days  I could not exactly define what the term “better” meant.

Now  I realize that  the term “better” means “moral ascendancy”

“Moral Ascendancy” means “Moral High Ground” or “Moral Authority”.   

(The opposite of “Moral Ascendancy” is “Moral Degradation”)

Being Ethical and Righteous in your conduct gives you “Moral Ascendancy”  whereas being unethical, immoral and corrupt causes “Moral Degradation”  which will earn you the disrespect of your juniors and peers.

“Moral Ascendancy” will win you the respect and confidence of your subordinates and peers.

Your juniors will “Respect you if you have moral “Moral Ascendancy” over them.

And – Your juniors will willingly “Obey you if they “Respect” you.

So  as an officer – you must have “moral ascendancy” over your subordinates in order to gain their “respect”.

Thus  “moral ascendancy” in officers  especially senior officers  is an essential prerequisite for discipline in the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Moral Ascendancy is the most important Officer Like Quality (OLQ) for a Defence Officer.

You have to attain moral ascendancy before you demand respect.

Genuine respect does not come from Legal Authority.

Genuine respect comes from “Moral Ascendancy”.

A good officer never has to use the power of his rank to command his men.

His men will willingly obey him because of his “moral ascendancy”.

That is why the most important aspect of selection and training of officers is to ensure that they have “moral ascendancy” over the men they are going to command.

If you talk to young military officers – you will realize that senior officers have lost “moral ascendancy”. 

The effect of this is visible in the increasing indiscipline in the defence services – and this loss of “moral ascendancy”  and consequent loss of respect for senior officers can have serious ramifications in war  as it happened in the 1962 India-China War.

Senior officers need to introspect as to why they have lost “moral ascendancy” over their juniors – as a consequence of which  senior officers seem to have lost the respect their rank ought to command.

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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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