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jaipur, rajasthan, India
retired Army Colonel

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sword & the Scabbard

Armed Forces are State’s Instrument of Power and beside their primary role, these are called upon to execute writ of the Government where necessary. These remains State’s last bastion and therefore not only be deployed judicially but decisively. The latter holds the key. As the Indian State evolved over period of last century, the political leadership and bureaucracy in comparison with Armed Forces lagged much behind despite being cornerstones of arch of power. It was because of British Raj’s patronage to Military and quality building out of sheer necessity. Today, when Indian Republic stands as world's most liberal and largest democracy, the acumen of state to employ and deploy it's Armed Forces shows large amount of deficit. The Nehruvian paranoia, on the other hand continues to clip the wings of Armed Forces reducing them into castrated bulls or oxen to pull the cart at the whip and whims of bureaucracy and Political leadership. 70 years after the Independence, the Armed Forces have started taking shape into the cast designed for them as the old guard has slowly faded away.
Going back to the deployment of Armed Forces, it's now going from bad to worse for a simple reason that the interface today has become more pliable as both the engaging wheels get greasy.
Protracted deployment of Armed Forces in Counter Insurgency role becomes even more complex decision to make, thus warrants deeper thought and strategy, the key word being ‘decisive’. Under no circumstances the deterrence of Armed Forces and their sanctity as a final Instrument of Power never be diluted leave aside losing them.
With this as a background, look where our Armed Forces stand today? During JAT Agitation last year in Haryana, the Army was marching with a placard saying ‘Army’. The Kashmiri youth is able to swarm at operations sites, totally undeterred as a flash mob and throw stones at the Armed Forces in defence of holed up militants. Stone pelters do not leave a chance of displaying their fearlessness to raining bullets.
The Armed Forces, much to their distaste are made to occupy front office of the State and seen as instrument of governance,  in addition to that of power. The failings of Government are inadvertently seen as failings of Armed Forces. A guile the politicians possess to their brim, and Military bites the bullet.  A case in point of Kashmir is there for all of us to see. A mission strapped young Army Major, make use of an unwilling human shield to save, reportedly some 100 lives. Means justify ends in war as they say, but is there a war in Kashmir? If yes then which is the other Army we are fighting against?The larger question remains as to why the Army has lost its deterrence power? Who is responsible for it? And now that alienated Kashmiri youth is undeterred, what next? I am sure no nuke and no Chemical Agents. Syria, Turkey are already under world's RADAR.
If, we talk of only Kashmir, it is a political problem and Military cannot resolve it, except bringing down the violence to a manageable levels of civil governance. The Army brought it down many a times but found follow up wagons missing. Last 30 years, it's been like a bloody game and politicians doing the cheer leader. The edge of Security Forces have been blunted, their deterrence lost and Operations turn into personal street fight.
Abusing and Misusing Armed Forces is a sin and no act of treachery or sedition could surpass it. Those who are jingoistic must look under their collar.

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