MILITARY LEADERSHIP – OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES (OLQ)
In earlier times – Senior Military and Naval Officers were on the “healthier side” – stout, podgy, rotund – call it what you like – and – by today’s standards they would have been considered overweight – or even “physical unfit” – and maybe – they would have been put in low medical category and their promotions would have been stopped.
One may recall the stockily-built Admiral N Krishnan
Admiral Krishnan was undoubtedly one of India’s greatest maritime heroes who saw action in World War II in several theatres – Arctic Ocean, North Sea, Norwegian Campaign and Indian Ocean and was awarded a gallantry medal, the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), for his bravery in action – then commanded INS Delhi in the Goa Operations – and later – as the Flag Officer Commanding in Chief (FOC-in-C) Eastern Naval Command (ENC) – he was the principal architect of the Naval Operations, in the Bay of Bengal, in the 1971 War – for which he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. He wrote in his autobiography: “I have always believed that if force has to be used there has to be no pusillanimous or half-hearted measures. Preponderant force used to good effect always produces the quickest results.” He was a true war hero.
I had the opportunity of seeing him from close quarters in 1977 in Cochin and also his pictures on INS Vikrant during the 1971 War – and – of course – you cannot miss Admiral Krishnan – the short stocky figure in whites with his cap at a jaunty angle in the famous surrender ceremony picture of Lt Gen A.K. Niazi surrendering to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, in December 1971 at Dacca.
By today’s standards – where only the “lean and mean” are considered physically fit – he would have been considered overweight (and unfit) – despite his mental robustness and proven record of bravery in war and leadership in combat.
On the other hand – we see superbly physically fit officers who are mentally and morally weak – and display “un-officer-like” traits like sycophancy and “yes-man” behaviour. Though they are physically fit – they are not mentally robust – and they lack the moral courage and mental toughness to stand up for their men, the service, and to uphold moral and ethical principles. One can observe their subservience, servility and obsequious behaviour in front of politicians, bureaucrats and their seniors in service.
The detrimental effects of overemphasis on physical fitness and neglect of mental fitness are visible among the military leadership.
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