Can We Clean Our Own Augean Stable?

“‘According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions,’ Rumsfeld admitted. That is $2.3 trillion — that’s $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America.”

– CBS News, U.S. Secretary of Defense raises evidence of government, military corruption.

Nearer home it is equally bad. We observe, we hear and we know that in the Defense Forces for most engaged in procurement and supply, contracts and their implementation, inspections and quality certifications and other such areas of public dealings, the doors are wide open and being used for financial gains at all levels. Some may pass through these doors while some remain honest. For most the doors are shut for lack of such opportunities and they form the back bone. The dishonest ones at some stage do suffer in many ways in their career, through legal prosecution and so on. Their retribution at large remains their soiled reputation and isolation. Their actions in no ways condonable are remedial and corrective.

But then there are those who in authority and power through their deeds and actions have created and do create situations and conditions causing loss of human lives and large scale destruction.  For them through their planning and instructions these were personal choices arising from their conceived perceptions, a right step. Would history taken a different turn if a louder voice was heard against the planned attack on the Golden Temple? The act of resigning and surrendering to the authorities without a whimper did contribute to the disastrous Operation. Bemoaning and criticizing the Operation subsequently exhibits the dilemma between virtuosity and courage of conviction, the former won we know  with disastrous results. The subsequent rewards for inaction were many and continue.  The community bleeds and so does the Nation.

The Sri Lanka fiasco was another nightmare the nation continues to live with.  The Indian intelligence agencies failed to consistently provide accurate information to the forces. Bullets rained in on the commandos from LTTE fighters and sharpshooters perched on the tree tops. The choppers also came under fire. The fate of the tanks moving in pincer formation on the ground was not much different. The LTTE had laid anti-tank mines in the way leading to the operational zone. The irony of the entire story was that the man they were hunting for was nowhere around the area on the day of the operation. Over 1200 soldiers were killed in the short period. To date the Nation stands divided on the issue. The planners and the executors of this Operation remained in high regards and reached the peak of their ambition.

Do we need to allow ourselves to be beholden to self-aggrandizement, through jee huzoori or in action? Considering that the price to the Nation is very heavy and dear neither is an option for those who exercise the right to send our men into battle. Traditionally there are two types of mid-level officers.  One is ‘commander’ type excelling in combat at company and battalion level but not having necessary intellectual capacity to see the bigger picture.  Other group is ‘intellectual’ type having the capacity to think in various dimensions but are poor managers of men therefore they are usually not successful in combat.

However, we could consider like the Americans, possibly a requirement of a new breed of officers, those that they have not only excelled in combat but also higher education such as holding a PhD. This would give the Commander an exposure to the non-traditional view point especially so in the ever changing battlefield environment. The Americans call such officers “Warrior Intellectual”, who have impeccable combat and academic record. The point is that the Armed Forces could institutionalize processes that allow good ideas to rise to the top and not be held hostage to those harboring with self-interest and personal motives.

Can we really clean our own Augean Stable?

Your valuable suggestions please?