Saturday, December 23, 2017

Military Promotion System – Railway Train Metaphor

MILITARY PROMOTION SYSTEM (in a Nutshell) – The Railway Train Metaphor
Musings of a Veteran
A Fictional Spoof

Many years ago – I was travelling by train.

Our train slowed down – deviated from the main-line onto a side-track – and stopped.

The signal ahead of the side-track was Red.  

I got down from the train.  

I saw a railway-man holding red and green signal flags.

I asked the railway-man:

“Why has our train stopped…?”

“Your train has been halted to let the express train overtake…” he said.

“But – our train is also an express train…” I said.

“Yes. But the express coming behind you is a long distance train – it has priority…”

There was another track – a railway siding – ending in a dead-end – with a buffer stop.

On this “dead-end” track – there stood a train comprising decrepit coaches.

“What about that train…?” I asked the railway-man.

“That is a rake of dilapidated old coaches – waiting to be declared unserviceable and condemned to be retired and scrapped…” he said.  

Suddenly – a thought struck me.

The situation was exactly like the Navy Promotion System – or rather – like the Military Promotion System for Officers.

Those days – promotions till the rank of Lieutenant Commander (Major/SqnLdr) were by Time-Scale – you became a Lieutenant Commander after completing 11 years of commissioned service.

Then – after a few years – around 17/18 years of service – you faced your first Promotion Board (PB1) for promotion to the rank of Commander (LtCol/WgCdr).

[Now – after the AVS Cadre Review – promotions till the rank of Commander (LtCol/WgCdr) are by Time Scale (13 Years) – and you face your first Promotion Board (PB1) for promotion for promotion to the rank of Captain (Colonel/GpCapt)

Your first Promotion Board (PB1) may have been delayed by one rank – but – the essence of the promotion system remains the same – and the “Railway Train Metaphor” applies equally aptly]

Metaphorically – a Promotion Board (PB) is like the Railway Signal.

And – Officers of a Batch were like “Trains” rushing towards the Signal.

Some trains were given the green signal and allowed to pass through.

(These were the lucky officers cleared for promotion and placed on the select list”...)

The remaining officers were like trains diverted on the side-track and stopped.

They would be made to wait for one year (Officers placed on R1 List).

After one year – there would be the next annual Promotion Board.

Some of these “R1” Officers would be given the “green signal” and they would proceed ahead in their careers (they would conjoin with the next batch of “First Shot” Select List Officers who had got the “green signal” on their first attempt and were rushing ahead on the main track)

The remaining R1 Officers (who did not get the “green signal”) – they would have to wait for one more year on the side-track (R2 List).

After one more year – a few “R2” Officers would be given the “green signal” and they would proceed ahead in their careers.  

Those officers still remaining on the “side-track” would be given one last third chance after one more year – and the few lucky ones to get the “green signal” would proceed ahead in the career journey.

Those unlucky officers who could not make it in 3 attempts – they would be declared “permanently superseded” and shunted off to the “dead-end railway siding” with a permanent red signal.

They would be kept there till superannuation – just like the old railway coaches on the “dead-end” railway siding – waiting to be declared unserviceable and condemned to be retired and scrapped.

From their “dead-end railway siding” – these hopeless and hapless “permanently superseded” officers would watch their juniors rush ahead every year getting “green signals”

One fine day – after remaining static on the “dead-end siding” for many years – these forlorn superseded officers would be “superannuated” and “retired” from service (a few would manage to get “re-employment” and prolong their agony on the “dead-end siding” for one year or more)

Those lucky “Trains” (Officers) that rushed past the first “green signal” (PB1) – they would face a series of signals (PBs) – with similar situations – but – getting tougher and tougher – with very few “Trains” (Officers) getting the “green signal” – as ranks got higher and higher.

I have tried to illustrate the military promotion system in a simplistic manner using the “railway train metaphor”.

There may be many types of “complications” (“jumping the signal”) – due to Representations/Litigations/“Flexible HR Management” etc

But – in essence – the military promotion system is metaphorically like the railway train “paradigm” illustrated above.

Dear Readers – especially Military Veteran Readers – I eagerly await your comments…

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story is a fictional 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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