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“Public & Soldiers – How they view each other & War”


Book-3: War, Conflicts, Security, and The Military -1.0


A soldier then and now – Human Rights in War – Trust the training – Need to recognize and value their contribution to the Nation – Not just the costs incurred but also the costs avoided – Military operations are a last resort, when failure is not an option, and hence must be viewed accordingly – The need for the AFSPA.

Quotations for consideration:

  • “God and the Soldier, all men adore in time of troubles, and no more; For when war is over and all things righted, God is neglected – the Old Soldier slighted.” – Anon.
  •  “All civilizations owe their origins to the warrior; their cultures nurture the warriors who defend them, and the differences between them will make those of one very different in externals from those of another.” – Sir John Keegan .
  • “It’s the Soldier, not the Reporter who has given us freedom of the Press. It’s the Soldier, not the Poet who has given us freedom of Speech. It’s the Soldier, not the Politicians that ensures our rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It’s the Soldier, who salutes the Flag, who serves beneath the Flag, and whose coffin is draped by the Flag.” – Anon.
  • “There are some who have forgotten why we have a Military. It is not to promote war; it’s to be prepared for peace.” – Ronald Reagan.
  • “Hell hath no fury like a non – combatant.” – C. L. Montague .
  • “The dangerous patriot… drifts in to chauvinism and exhibits blind enthusiasm for military actions.” – Col. James A. Donovan.
  • “We must recognize the chief characteristic of the modern era – a permanent state of… violent peace.” – Admiral James D. Watkins.
  • “War must have the support of the Military, the Government, and the People” – Anon
  • “Jai Jawan! Jai Kisan!” – Lal Bahadur Shastri

Key concepts:

In the old days soldiers went in to battle with a clear idea of doing battle in a way that they wanted others to know of, their methods and their heroic deeds. Those were the days when the mothers of the soldiers ordered their sons going to war to either ‘return with their Shield or on it’. Everyone in those times understood the Soldier because everyone then was required, quite literally, to be prepared to fight an enemy hand to hand in order to survive and protect his family and his assets. There was then little room for niceties in war. Even Cicero, the Roman , in 44 B.C said, ‘In battle laws fall silent’.

Today, living as we currently do, in a longer period of continuous peace than any in the whole of world history, people think of war differently. They no longer need to be ready to fight to survive and no longer see war as everyone’s business. Today most people see war as ‘outsourced’ to their soldiers, to whom they are prepared to

pay lip service to in times of need, but otherwise do not really want to recognize or know about.

The Military has no unions and due to the nature of their jobs are mostly unable to exercise their vote, let alone raise any concerted voice. Compare this situation with that of any organized labour force. Therefore the Politicians do not register the Military on their radar screens. The Bureaucrats take advantage of this fact to also avoid according due consideration to the Military.

Is this attitude the fault of the Political Leaders, who in the intervals between elections do not see any votes in military spending – or is it also because those in the Military take it for granted that everyone, including the Bureaucrats, comprehend the needs of the Military, and hence make little effort to reach out and explain so as to encourage a better and more comprehensive understanding for the good of all?. Especially as in our Country, unlike as in most others, Military Service is not compulsory for all citizens.

Such lack of involvement and understanding has given rise to:

  1. Media, Politician and Bureaucratic disdain for the Military. When Generals with over 40 years of management and leadership experience and knowledge of world affairs, of the attitudes and capabilities of other Countries, even answer media questions relating to the military, the bureaucrats and politicians, themselves having far less experience and knowledge on the subject, protest and deny them the opportunity to put forth their views and keep the Country informed. The least that can be done to correct the situation is to take the military officers at various levels in to the Ministry of Defence and have a Chief of Defence Staff involved in defence policy and strategy matters at the top Government level and to have a proper Public Relations and Media office at appropriate levels.
  2. “Never get into a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel and own air waves or video spectrum and use them 24/7” – Anon

The Military should seek to understand the media and learned to work with it. As General Colin Powell advises – “Never let your ego gets so close to your position that when your position goes under, your ego goes with it”.

  1. If war is declared, we face demands not only that it be a ‘just’ war but that there be ‘just’ behavior in war. So for the soldier, ‘Warfare’ must now sometimes seem more like ‘Lawfare’, such are the legal charges that bind his every move. Perhaps soon our soldiers may be required to ask for the enemy’s signed agreement (in triplicate?) before shooting at them.

But one must keep in mind that in modern times the constant challenge to top the enemy with something new and unconventional has taken a turn into dirty warfare. People forget that only if the enemy is equally nice can one afford to be nice oneself. People need to remember the Geneva Conventions apply to enemy soldiers

in uniform (Where a POW is required to give only his name, rank and identity number). Other enemy combatants or accessory’s, are but spies, murderers and terrorists, and are unlawful and are therefore to be treated as such.

It is not only necessary to win battles but it is also necessary to use the victory to bring about long term peace and good order, and it is at this time that ‘Magnanimity’ comes into play, not during the war or conflict. Calls for human rights and development can also only be addressed once the hostilities are over, or the hostiles have surrendered. Only a proper understanding of the realities of functioning in hostile conditions can allow for a proper evaluation of the actions of the Forces.

Calls for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) avoid mentioning that this Act comes into effect only in areas declared by the Government as ‘Disturbed Areas’. If the area is no longer so designated the AFSPA automatically lapses therein. It is thus the responsibility and judgement call of the civilian government to designate an area as disturbed and to remove such designation once the area is longer so deemed. Once so designated the Security Forces must have the right to ask for such rules of engagement as will allow them to undertake the task effectively. Aberrations can be dealt with vide proper laid down procedures by competent authorities within the Forces. We must trust in our Forces, in their selection process and in the training we accord them. We must remember that in such circumstances as cause the Government to declare an area as a ‘Disturbed Area’, failure is NOT an option and hence extraordinary measures might need to be employed and the Rights of the locals and of the terrorists / insurgents may need to be curtailed. The alternative is chaos and anarchy.

The Public, the Police and the Para-Military must clearly understand that operating in a designated ‘Disturbed Area’ is war against ‘enemies’ of the State, whether foreign or domestic, and in war civilian residents becoming collateral causalities may be unavoidable as the hostiles coerce the civilians to provide food, shelter, information and act as shields. (See article by Kanchan Gupta in AGENDA /Sunday, July 11, 2010 annexed below). In the areas not so designated, it is the Police perhaps supported by the Para-Military forces that are to be deployed and made responsible for law & order.

There is also a lack of understanding of the necessity for appropriate Military Expenditure, (See ‘Military Expenditure – The Case for’) and also a lack of understanding about the time and training required for even a standing Army to be fielded into a war or conflict, let alone to call up and field the Reserves. The public, especially the Bureaucrats, need to be made to understand all these aspects. (See “Choosing & Training to be a Soldier / Special Forces Soldier” and “Bureaucrats – Selection & Development”).

The change in the

attitude of soldiers to war is perhaps best illustrated by recalling the words of Lord Macaulay referring to the attitude of a soldier of his day –

“How can a man die better, than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his Gods”.

But perhaps General Patton had a more practical and modern attitude when he said to his soldiers –

“I do not want you to die for your Country. I want you to make the enemy soldier die for his Country”.

Now about the attitude of the Military thinkers towards War – This is best illustrated by Nassim. N Taleb in his book ‘Black Swan’, who has this to say about his experience with Military thinkers – Many in the Military are not war – hungry autocrats with limited intellect as stereo typed and portrayed in movies. Being well aware of the realities and costs of war, they see war as a last resort and try to prepare well for any consequences / effects / risks even as they are unable predict the specific nature and occurrence of any conflict, because for them failure cannot be an option. Infact the military gathers more genuine intellects and risks takers than most if not all other professions. The Military mind seeks to understand the epistemology of risks attempting to be ready to face the unknown – ‘unknowns’. They are thoughtful and open minded, dealing with randomness with genuine, introspective intellectual honesty. In fact, thinking, behaving and acting, like philosophers. They are skeptical empiricists who think out of the box without fear of introspection. They are not the people who initiate wars; infact in their view, the successful defence policy is one that manages to eliminate potential dangers without war. (eg. the way the Soviet Union was perhaps bankrupted by excessive defence spending in an attempt to win the arms race against the USA).

The Public must be made to understand the sacrifice that the soldiers make and the true circumstances they live and operate in, and ensure adequate public expression of support, without which the morale of the troops would indeed sink low. This is where the media can help. The military too must learn to be ‘Media Wise’. In today’s world the Military can really no longer afford to be a ‘thing apart’ from the rest of the Society even as it remains apolitical and under Government control.

Let us now recall a few words said by King Croesus after his defeat as quoted by the 5 th Century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus 

“No one is so stupid as to prefer War to Peace. In Peace, sons bury their fathers; in War, fathers bury their sons”.

Obviously families of Soldiers still know this, but do our Political Leaders and Bureaucrats and the General Public really understand this? We should remind them of what Chanakya said-

“There will always be a soldier on our land- it is our choice to make

whether that soldier is ours or our enemy’s.”

If we desire that this soldier be ours, then we must also recognize that we too have an obligation to him.

“The Nation which forgets its defenders will (soon) itself be forgotten.” –  Calvin Coolidge.

To maintain Peace we must be ready for War and thus deter others from making war on us, – and that is why we must strive to make all such people really understand the meaning and cost of War and the value of Peace. (See “War & Domestic Conflicts – Economics & Costs”).

Perhaps we should call on our Political Leaders to ensure that the Bureaucrats, especially those posted into the Defence Ministry, be recruited from the Military or at least be made to serve like TA Personnel throughout their Careers, or for at least for 10 years. Pending that, we should call on them to attend appropriate orientation Programmes / Courses. (See “Bureaucrats – Selection & Development”).

As President Gerald Ford said, –

“All of us who have served in one war or the other know very well that all wars are the glory and agony of the young”.

As the Forces cannot retain as many Generals as the number of young officers it needs, it becomes essential that in order to get the best young officers we be in a position to allow them lateral entry into the Paramilitary forces and even into the Civil Services, IPS, IRS, IAS and IFS etc as found suitable, as was so successfully done in the past (1966-73).

Soldiers retire young and hence must be accorded the opportunity to move laterally into other Services or help in settling themselves down (Education & Business loans etc).

There are deaths in the course of duty amongst the Police, Fire Fighters, Para-Military, Intelligence and even Forest Guards, Revenue officials etc. each death is undoubtedly tragic in itself, but should not and cannot be equated to the death in action (war) of soldiers in the Military. Calls for a common ‘War’ or ‘Remembrance’ Memorial are hence not justified. A soldier is a combatant; the others though important in their own way are different as enforcers of law & order. There should be Memorials for each of them but that of the Soldiers should be separate.

“Every person who has worn the uniform and fought in battle understands the nature of sacrifice. But as a people united in freedom, we owe special respect and gratitude to those who were captured. They suffered tremendously at the hands of their captors – virtually all of them subjected to physical torture and incredibly harsh conditions. Yet they maintained their faith in their Nation, and they nurtured the hope that one day they would return home…. (The Nation) must never forget their courage”.  – Lt. Gen Bruce Carlson , at the Prisoner of War Recognition Ceremony, on the 61 st Anniversary of the Bataan Death March

Perhaps we too should call on our Leaders to remember

what happened to those captured during the Kargil “OP-VIJAY” and take action to indict and bring to justice those responsible for such war crimes where ever they may be. (See Annexure – I below)

Finally the Soldiers, who are the cutting edge and bearers of the greatest burden of any war, must themselves understand all this and work with the other ‘Stake Holders’ to make them understand, the need and the direction of our preparation for war in the 21 st Century and that this is an ongoing process. (See ‘War in the 21 st Century’)

“You should by all means encourage a soldier to continue in the service. This you can easily do by testifying great esteem for old soldiers. The pay should also be increased in proportion to the years of service. There is great injustice in giving no higher pay to a veteran than to a recruit.” – Napoleon Bonaparte.

One Rank One Pension (OROP) is not a new concept, this should always been the case and the call for it to be implemented should never have needed to be made.


“A Soldier does not build, make or create, he does not teach, nor heal nor grow anything, he does not trade nor does he entertain – he only, by his very presence, ensures that all those who do such things can continue to do!” – Chanakya

His presence is essential. The expenditure incurred there for is only a fraction of what is avoided. His training must be trusted in. His efforts duly recognized and all soldiers need to be taken appropriate care of as they retire.


The tragic case of POW’s of “OP-VIJAY” in Kargil in 1999.

Lt. Saurabh Kalia

All of the 4 Jat Bn. captured by Pakistan forces on 14 th May 1999,

Sepoy Arjun Ram

tortured, mutilated and killed and bodies returned brazenly to India after Sepoy Bhanwar Bagia 3 weeks on 9 th June 1999 with cigarette burns all over the bodies, Sepoy Bikha Ram eyes gouged, ears pierced, bones shattered nails pulled out and with clear evidence of other unspeakable tortures

Sepoy Naresh Singh

Sqn. Ldr. Ajay Ahuja – whose aircraft was shot down on 27 th May 1999, survived the crash but was killed by the Pakistanis and bullet riddled body returned.

How are our leaders reacting to these War crimes? What are they doing to bring the perpetrators to justice? Should we not keep insisting that they act to do so?

Annexure – II

ARTICLE – in AGENDA | Sunday, July 11, 2010

ARTICLE – in AGENDA | Sunday , July 11, 2010

Let’s not defame the armed forces – Kanchan Gupta ,

It’s now considered fashionable and politically correct to berate the security forces and accuse them of violating human rights. The Delhi commentariat, whose ill-informed members are often indistinguishable from jholawallahs with a certain fondness for candles, having run out of abuse to heap on Hindus and organisations that speak up for Hindu rights, has now decided to pour its bile on our men in khaki. Real and imagined instances of alleged ‘encounter killings’ are being recalled, professional human rights activists are being interviewed, separatist leaders are being flown down to Delhi and panel discussions are being organised with the sole purpose of painting the security forces in the bleakest of colours. It would seem suddenly the Army has become a four-letter dirty word and there’s no crime that jawans cannot be held guilty of having committed. Last Sunday I was invited to a popular television show in which participants were supposed to discuss whether the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 — subsequently amended in 1972 — requires amendments to make the security forces operating under this law accountable for their actions. We need not go into the specifics of who said what — much of it was predictable: The politician from Jammu & Kashmir described the law as “draconian”; the Kashmiri separatist accused the ‘Indian’ Army of “killing Kashmiri children”; the human rights activist said the colour khaki makes boys (she meant militants) see red and hence should be banned; and, the person representing Delhi’s exalted commentariat pompously demanded that “the law must go”. Two retired Generals of the Army and a Brigadier valiantly fought back. As usual, I was in a minority of one. The point to note was that none of the critics of the Army and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act had a clue about the specifics of the law, nor did anyone offer to validate sweeping allegations of rights violations. Instead, what we heard were bizarre figures being cited and implausible charges being levelled. To be fair, the host repeatedly made it clear that the purpose of the show was not to attack or belittle the Army, but to debate the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. But that served little purpose because the critics were either not interested in this particular issue or they were keen to push their own agenda. In the process, nothing of substance could be discussed and debated. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, I ventured to suggest, was not meant to place the Army or the security forces above the law of the land but to empower them to function effectively while dealing with situations that have defied resolution through normal means — intervention by civilian authorities, action by the police and call for calm by the political class. The Army cannot be expected to function in a vacuum and requires to be given autonomy of decision and action, I argued, hence the need for the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. This fetched a volley of furious reactions: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act gives the Army and security forces the license to kill; it militates against the spirit of democracy; its provisions fly in the face of rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Kashmiri separatist thought he was being profound when he said, “The right to life is inalienable, it cannot be violated,” and then went on to allege that “thousands are being killed by the Indian Army”. For a moment I was tempted to point out that having repudiated his allegiance to the Republic of India he had also forfeited the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. But I desisted from doing so because it would be meaningless trying to engage him in a debate on the provisions of the very Constitution which separatists like him find sufficiently repelling to want to secede from the Union of India. I had taken with me some notes, which proved to be of no use when the discussion drifted into irrelevant issues and bogus allegations. But some of the details, culled from data sheets hosted on the South Asia Terrorism Portal, need to be placed on record, if only to nail the lies of those who seek to defame the Army and other security forces drafted for counter-insurgency operations. These essentially deal with fatalities suffered by our men in uniform. For instance, 5,962 security forces personnel have been killed by terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir between 1988 and July 5, 2010. This year alone 45 security forces personnel have died in the State fighting militants. There are other insurgencies being fought by the security forces. Since 1992, as many as 939 officers and jawans have lost their lives in Manipur; 783 in Assam; 81 in Meghalaya and 22 in Mizoram. There’s more: 1,226 security forces personnel have died fighting Maoists between 2005 and 2010; this year, till July 5, we have lost 204 men in uniform to Maoist bullets. Don’t these lives count for anything? Do men who don khaki automatically surrender their right to life guaranteed by the Constitution? Are young men and women who join paramilitary forces and the Army no more than cannon fodder? And, more importantly, what about their human rights? Their right to dignity? Are these meant to be scoffed at? To be spat upon? To be violated with impunity? The parents of a young Army Captain who went down fighting terrorists in Kashmir Valley earlier this year recounted during the show how their son was not felled by the militants’ bullets, but by a bullet fired from a nearby house. His mother, wiping her tears, said in a firm voice: “I have no more sons. If I had any, I would have sent them to join the Army. Since I have none, I am willing to offer my services.” The Kashmiri separatist slyly retorted, “We have heard thousands of such stories.” There are two points that merit mention. First, contrary to propaganda, despite the so-called ‘sweeping provisions’ of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the security forces virtually operate in terrorist and insurgent-infested areas with both arms tied behind their backs. Or else the fatalities would not have been so high. That’s commonsense. Second, nobody, least of all the Army, condones wilful violation of human rights. But allegations cannot be deemed to be actionable unless proven

to be true. Since 1990, the security forces have faced 1,511 cases of human rights abuse. These were investigated by various agencies, including the National Human Rights Commission, and 1,473 were found to be false. In the remaining cases where culpability was established, 104 men have been punished. A last point. There’s nothing called a pretty war fought with roses and daisies. Collateral damage is inevitable in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations. It’s an asymmetrical war being fought out there by men who have dedicated their lives to the service of the nation; we must get real and learn to live with the consequences. Stuff happens.


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