The Indian Army can undertake any task – a two-front war, man counter-insurgency ops, and help in disasters.
But on 7 March, a PTI report stated that the Army has built a pontoon bridge on the Yamuna for the Art of Living Foundation’s World Culture Festival in Delhi. Why should the Army be the one to build bridges when there are several other agencies that can do the same?
Employing our combatants for such civilian tasks eats into their soldiering schedule which is needed for an Army to remain professional. It is best if the Army is utilised for professional tasks which ensures that combatants’ morale remains high, and they can undertake tasks for our nation with elan, pride and military precision.
Use of the Indian Army with thought and care will pay rich dividends. The Army has its tasks cut out – to be prepared for a two-front war, undertake counter-insurgency tasks in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.
The organisation has risen to the occasion in disaster relief operations and in assisting other security forces in maintaining law and order in difficult circumstances like in Haryana during the Jat quota stir.
To undertake these operations successfully, the Army has to train, rest and refit to maintain a high degree of operational readiness. The Army must operate in a manner that it always wins, as there are no runners-up in war.
Apart from showcasing itself on Republic Day and the Independence Day functions, the Army, post 1971, has been used for non-military functions at the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Kumbh Mela and many other events.
The Army belongs to the nation and its people. Every soldier is accountable to the nation and in turn, the nation is accountable in utilising the soldier for tasks which strictly demand his presence. Keeping an Army in a state of operational preparedness entails gainful optimisation of the soldier’s capabilities.
(PK Chakraborty is a retired Major General. His distinguished service earned him a Vishisht Seva Mandal.)