L E T T E R S    T O    T H E    E D I T O R

Merit must in C-in-C

Apropos the article “Closer scrutiny on Service Chiefs’ Selection” by Kanwar Sandhu, I am not totally in agreement with the members proposed in the selection process. Left to the ACC or the CCS or a truncated version of the DCC, the process is likely to bring to fore political considerations. All those sitting on the board would be politicians, no matter of what hue and colour. This could open the senior leadership of the armed forces to lobbying, with the attendant risk of structured muck-raking by the contenders about the others in the run. This is a reality in our scenario.

Except for very few political leaders, their understanding of “grand strategy” and “matters military” is abysmally poor.

The selection of the most professionally competent C-in-C, with the highest degree of personal integrity from amongst the panel would provide to the nation a military leader who is most deserving. Many in my fraternity propagate that all C-in-Cs once elevated to the rank are the same and hence the seniority criteria should hold good to prevent canvassing and politicalisation of the selection process. But I feel merit must be given consideration and the selection committee should be comprise the following: Defence Minister (Chairman), NSA Chairman, COSC and if he is from the service that is selecting the next Chief, then another chief from one of the other two services, COAS/ CNS/ CAS and CVC/ CAG/ CEC (one of the constitutional authorities).

Vice-Admiral JS Bedi (Retd), Pune

Start process early

Reference the article “Closer scrutiny on Service Chiefs’ Selection”, I would like to add:

a. This process must start when the officers are being considered for appointment as Army Commanders. This appointment is crucial and needs a selection system rather than seniority alone.

b. Residual service should play a minor role.

c. The career profile should be a major consideration in allotting commands. It is said that at that level, all officers are the same, but one has seen how the command suffers from lack of ground experience of Army Commanders.

d. Of late, there has been a tendency of senior officers hiding their medical fitness. At the Lt-General’s rank, an independent medical representative from the civil stream should also be incorporated. Some psychological test also needs to be conducted.

Brig HPS Bedi (Retd), Panchkula

Political bosses honest?

Army Chiefs’ appointments are being based on political interests. A look at the past 10-odd Chiefs reflects the fact that they have not kept organisational interests in mind, have dabbled in petty politics within the Army to promote officers of the same regiment or those close to them, have failed to ensure operational readiness of the level desired in a hostile environment and what is shockingly sad is that they have not been sensitive to the organisational needs of officers and men.

While the observation regarding professional competence being desirable at the Chief’s level as part of the selection criteria is correct, the question is: who will decide this? Can we achieve the level of integrity and honesty of the political bosses being absolutely unflinching in their dedication to the nation/ armed forces while selecting the Chiefs?

Brig Pradeep Sharma (Retd), Mani Majra

Don’t scrap IAF deals

Apropos the news item “Govt puts Rolls-Royce deals on hold” (March 4), frequent scrapping of the IAF deals for aircraft engines or helicopters and inordinate delays in the procurement of fighter planes are severely affecting the preparedness of the Air Force. The deal for 126 multi-role fighters has not fructified even after 10 years, reducing the number of fighter squadrons to an alarmingly low level.

We seem to be oversensitive to the presence of middlemen in the defence deals. Don’t we pay commission to agents for sales promotion? So, what is the problem in payoffs in defence deals? This is not to condone corruption. Do curb the corrupt practices but don’t scrap the deals finalised after a laborious and time-consuming process. This is like throwing out the baby along with the bath tub.


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