Do not open the dictionary, Chimera as per Webster is the following:

  • a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and serpent’s tail and
  • an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts and
  • an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially an unrealizable dream <a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer — John Donne>

It did not matter much in the early years of my service in the Army but as rank and responsibility grew over the years Chimera commenced to surface gradually. In the formative years there was banter and the humor amongst the more seniors in the messes and parties over the follies and the foibles of the civilians in the Ministry Of Defense as they fumbled through in matters Military. Anecdotes and examples were narrated with mirth and disdain.

During these years there were steps considered to familiarize the civilian administrative officers with the Military; one such, I remember was a bunch of them staying for a week at a high altitude post exhibiting frustration and timidity right through. Whether this improved their understanding or sympathy of the conditions the soldier is faced with, I cannot vouchsafe as I did not meet them thereafter. As the years passed I heard stories and anecdotes of various kind; of the civilian obstinacy, willfulness, obduracy, lethargy, and above all their pining for and obtaining  supremacy over our self-respect and our  livelihood. We have discussed and criticized these then and we continue to do it now. We are helpless and hapless The Chimera was born! But this Chimera is neither imaginary nor an illusion nor fabrication of the mind; it is alive, bouncing and kicking!

I was skeptical and felt that the old timer’s belief in quitting after commanding a battalion or regiment was ancient history; no one did want to do it now. And yet I put in my papers on finishing my regiment command tenure. The reasons were many but one stood out the most; I would no longer remain a leader of a dedicated people who had faith in me and looked up to me with respect and reverence, like the younger’s did to their parents. Upwards in the hierarchy this intimacy is minimized, however the respect and the obedience remain unquestionable. The hierarchy   ends with the COAS who holds this sacrosanct office.  This office is not symbolic; it is dynamic both in perception and in reality, and the person holding it is held in reverence and commands the highest respect of not only the armed forces but of the nation. The lives and the welfare of the soldiers are his concern, to ensure the sanctity and the solidarity of our borders is his job. Barring the Chinese misadventure all performed their job well.  And yet today we see this office denigrated and vilified by the bureaucrats in consort and in connivance with a section of media. “Sack the Chief”, “He has lost his mental balance”, “He has placed his personal interest before the National interest” are some of the headlines seen and heard.  My heart does pump fast and the blood speeds up the flow towards the brain, but again I watch the happenings helplessly; having given away the best years of my life perhaps in vain. The very Institution that stood and served the country now stands weathered by the vagaries of greed and misadventure of a few.

Perhaps the realization in these persons has faded to a degree; the Armed forces are the last line of Defense against any enemy (external or internal), natural and manmade calamities and any unforeseen occurrence. To weaken the Armed Forces is akin to cutting the very branch on which they are perched. They are perpetuating hara-kiri. They may be the Chimera presently, but then when the chips are down they will be the first to jump into the ocean or hide in their holes.

I do not foresee any perceptible improvement in the present equation. There may be some cosmetic changes but the stranglehold of the Chimera over the Armed Forces will remain.  How then do we destroy the Chimera?

Any suggestions please?