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Why the military brass is scratching its head over Modi’s Commanders’ Conference speech

Considering 50 years of 1971, the Commanders' meet could have been held at Defence College, Wellington, the resting place of Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw.

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The Combined Commanders’ Conference held at Kevadia under the shadow of the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, from 4 to 6 March, had many firsts to its credit. It was the first time that the meet was held away from a military venue. It was the maiden conference chaired by the Chief of Defence Staff as the permanent Chairperson of the Chief of Staff Committee. Also, Junior Commissioned Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers participated in this conference for the first time.

Out of the three “firsts”, two — the choice of the venue and attendance by JCOs/NCOs — were mired in controversy. Some issues raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his ‘symbolic’ address also left the top brass and defence analysts scratching their heads to decipher his directions.


Also read: Break down civil-military silos, indigenise customs & doctrines, Modi tells armed forces


What is the aim of the Combined CommandersConference?

The Combined Commanders’ Conference is an annual event attended by all the General/Air/Fleet Officers Commanding-in-Chief, Vice Chiefs of Army/Air/Naval Staff, Commanders of Andaman Nicobar Command/Strategic Forces Command, Chiefs of Army/Air/ Naval Staff under the chairmanship of the Chief of Defence Staff. The defence minister also chairs and addresses a session in which the defence secretary and other secretaries in the Ministry of Defence also participate. The conference culminates with the Prime Minister chairing and addressing a session attended by all participants.

The aim of the conference is to achieve inter-Service synergy on all national security issues — internal/external threats, prevailing security situation, national security strategy, transformation of the armed forces, defence preparedness and defence production — and is pitched at the strategic level. It is pertinent to mention that the government and the armed forces have an elaborate internal mechanism for deliberations for decision-making and dissemination of orders/directives. Hence, this conference is primarily used to discuss macro-level issues in a free and frank manner. The political leadership also uses this conference to convey its vision and focus areas to all senior commanders, apart from its institutional interaction with the CDS and the Service Chiefs.


Also read: If China-Pakistan came to peace table, BJP’s failed national security strategy helped too


The venue

The choice of the venue this year — Kevadia — next to Sardar Patel’s statue was unusual. Traditionally, the conference was held in Delhi since Independence up till 2014 to avoid administrative inconvenience. During the conference in October 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed that the conference should be held alternatively “on sea, at forward army camps, air bases”. This was a reformative decision to promote tri-Services integration, and as a result, the conference was held on-board INS Vikramaditya on sea, at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, and at Jodhpur air base in 2015, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

By the above logic, given the crisis in Eastern Ladakh, the most suitable place for the conference would have been Headquarters Northern Command or Leh — to send a message to China and Pakistan. Since this may not have been appropriate in light of the February rapprochement, then, in tune with his vision of tri-Services integration, it could have been held at our joint Services institutions — National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla (Pune), or Defence Services Staff College, Wellington ( Nilgiris). The latter was also more suitable, keeping in view the 50th year of our victory in the 1971 War, because Wellington is the resting place of the man who made it possible — Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. Considering our focus on the Indo-Pacific, another suitable place would have been the Andaman Nicobar Command — our only tri-Service field command.

Keeping the above in view, the choice of the venue smacked of political symbolism because Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, apart from being the national icon, has been transformed into an icon of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In any case, is it appropriate to associate the Combined Commanders’ Conference with national icons? There is no formal list of national icons. It is more a matter of political perception and promotion. The national icons of pre-2014 era are berated and blamed for all ills of India by the BJP and since nothing is permanent in politics, future governments may use this precedent to link future conferences with these very icons. The CDS and the Chiefs have acquiesced to allow the armed forces to be politically exploited.


Also read: On LAC, India partially achieved its political aim. Now, it must go for final settlement


Attendance by JCOs and NCOs

On the eve of the Combined Commanders’ Conference, the media, quoting sources (a norm these days for informal briefings by government/military officials) reported, “Jawans would be participating in discussions and give their valuable suggestions on topics related to operations and functioning of the defence forces.” Top government sources also told India Today that “the suggestion to include jawans in the conference came from the Prime Minister himself.” The Times of India, also quoting sources, reported that the JCOs, NCOs and Other Ranks would participate in a session on “Morale and Motivation” on 6 March, in which the Prime Minister will interact with them.

This conference is pitched at the strategic level. Let alone JCOs or NCOs, even officers below the Corps Commander-level would have little to contribute. As far as out-of-the-box and innovative ideas by junior ranks is concerned, the armed forces already have in place mechanisms to carry out detailed interactions at various levels of command to discuss and incorporate fresh suggestions. Morale and motivation of soldiers is a preeminent leadership responsibility at all levels of command, and is done on a 24-hour basis.

Not only such a participation would serve no useful purpose in a strategic conference, but it is also detrimental to the sacred chain of command in the Army. Even within the armed forces the chain of command is sacrosanct. When things go wrong it is the Commanding Officer whose head rolls.

Given the presence of the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and the military/MoD hierarchy, the presentations by JCOs/NCOs and the interactive session would have been nothing more than a well-orchestrated robotic spectacle.

In my view, the presence of the JCOs and NCOs was not to give them their share of limelight or to gain from their wisdom, but to showcase direct formal contact between the political leadership and the rank and file. Traditionally, the contact was restricted to visits to forward areas, Sainik Sammelans and sharing tea/meals with soldiers to uplift their morale. Direct contact between political leadership and the rank and file, bypassing the chain of command, has been practised by Right-wing political ideologies in the past with disastrous results. This practice simply sidelines an inconvenient military hierarchy proofing the political leadership against any dissent/threat.


Also read: Sikh separatism fighting existential battle but mishandling farmer protest can add fuel


The Prime Ministers address

The Prime Minister symbolically addresses the Combined Commanders Conference, reiterating his vision, defence policy and focus areas, apart from the morale boosting laudatory references. The inputs for his speech are formally provided by the Services. The draft is prepared by the CDS. After vetting by the Defence Secretary, it is forwarded to the PMO for finalisation. Since 2014, PM Modi has given his personal touch to these speeches by adding his own inputs. Fairly detailed extracts of his speeches of 2014 and 2015 were put in public domain. However, since then only sketchy details have been provided.

This year, the PM gave an unusual ambiguous direction for which there is no direct interpretation. I suppose his office or the National Security Advisor (NSA) will issue necessary directions in due course.

The official extract states: “Prime Minister stressed the importance of enhancing indigenisation in the national security system, not just in sourcing equipment and weapons but also in the doctrines, procedures and customs practiced in the armed forces.” While the first part of his direction is well understood, it is the indigenisation of “doctrines, procedures and customs” that lacks clarity.

Military thought has evolved over the centuries as a continuum, and technology continues to drive change and reform. All modern armed forces are well versed in it, and all, including our own, adapt it to the specific needs and environment. The principle reason for India being defeated by invaders for 1,000 years was our failure to adopt and adapt to modern military strategy, tactics and technology. It could well be that the PM was exhorting the armed forces to draw upon Mahabharata and Ramayana. Nothing sums it up better than ThePrint’s 50-word edit.

The PMO will also have to clarify about the indigenisation of customs. In fact, the most anglicised officer of the Army, Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa as Commander-in-Chief/COAS led the drive to “Indianise” the armed forces. There are no customs that the armed forces follow, which are not followed by the Government of India and the political hierarchy in their  formal functioning. Even before “Jai Hind” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” were adopted by neo-nationalists, these had been formalised in the Army. “Ram, Ram” is used as a greeting in many regiments since colonial times.  Beyond this, such a direction only smacks of ideology. There is difference between customs of Service and authorised use of manpower in form of sahayaks, bands, messes, Service canteens, safai men and washermen. The latter do require reforms to save on manpower and promote egalitarianism.

One only hopes that the idea of indigenisation of “doctrines, procedures and customs” was merely the imagination of an ignorant scriptwriter in the PMO run wild and not the views of the PM himself.

Lt Gen H S Panag PVSM, AVSM (R) served in the Indian Army for 40 years. He was GOC in C Northern Command and Central Command. Post retirement, he was Member of Armed Forces Tribunal. Views are personal.

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78 COMMENTS

  1. Stop politicising the Armed Forces. Mere bureaucratic babus who arent trained at their job does not run the show in this organization. And the UPA leaning Print should definitely stop bringing out articles like these which really does nothing substantial but just helps absolute laymen( with no experience, no knowledge about the ideology, about work pattern of the forces ) spew venom about the forces with their little and wrong knowledge. Neither the bureaucratic babus nor the political so called leaders are deemed fit to decide for the forces. Matters related to the defence should be dealt only by leaders who belong to the organization. The internal mechanism of the military cannot be political/social and vice versa. It doesn’t work that way cause it believes and follows different ideology. One cannot have a democratic military force. Forms of political ideologies do not work in the military. No regime in the world has democratic military/ communist military. Military is military and should be left at that and is best managed by the ones belonging to it.

  2. Funny i see many keyboard warriors here badmouthing a retired soldier who has served the country proudly just because his political opinion is different without having done diddly squat for the nation

    • Techi: Very well said Sir !

      Most of these “patriots” – many of them NRIs – would never dream of sending their kids to the Armed Forces. Instead, they would covet a “Green card” rather than donning the Army’s “Green beret”. Not that it would deter these armchair patriots from slinging mud at a brave man and a patriot who actually has served the nation by joining the forces. Sadly, in Modistan, criticism of Prophet Modi is the highest form of sedition – at least that is what people in the Modi cult believe. Whether the nation can survive this onslaught on its identity and ethos by the fascist forces of Hindutva is another question.

  3. Perfect line “The principle reason for India being defeated by invaders for 1,000 years was our failure to adopt and adapt to modern military strategy, tactics and technology. ”

    Content lies in the brains of reader. A hyphenated mind will just absorb the propaganda infected image.

    For all those criticizing Gen Panag for this thoughts rich article, please come with some valuable criticism in Facts and Figures. Veteran’s experience and knowledge mustn’t be used for name shaming each other.

  4. Content lies in the brains of reader. A hyphenated mind will just absorb the propaganda infected image.

    For all those criticizing Gen Panag for this thoughts rich article, please come with some valuable criticism in Facts and Figures.
    Veteran’s experience and knowledge mustn’t be used for name shaming each other.

  5. Perfect line “The principle reason for India being defeated by invaders for 1,000 years was our failure to adopt and adapt to modern military strategy, tactics and technology. ”

    Content lies in the brains of reader. A hyphenated mind will just absorb the propaganda infected image.

    For all those criticizing Gen Panag for this thoughts rich article, please come with some valuable criticism in Facts and Figures.
    Veteran’s experience and knowledge mustn’t be used for name shaming each other.

  6. Very unfortunate that a Retd Gen of Indian Army writes like this. He hasn’t come out of his British hangover still. India’s biggest problem is nothing is Indian and everything is a copy. Who will take up the responsibility and courage to change the unproductive old practises , modernise and indigenise the Armed forces, the salaried generals and Chiefs or the leader of the country?
    I just reject the writeup.

  7. As a Fauji Veteran with some experience, I tend to agree with Gen. Panag about the venue and the presence of JCOs and NCOs. He is correct when he says that icons (like Bharat Ratna) vary from political party to political party and it would have been best for the fauj to stay clear of this competitive iconism. About presence of JCOs, it’s mere symbolism of little value. I can imagine how intellectually uncomfortable JOCs and NCOs must have been where even a senior Major General would be out of depth and out of place. About PM stress about Indigenizing Doctrines, procedures and customs, I hugely differ with Panag. The General is a creature of Macaulay’s public school system, for whom Shivaji, Peshwas, Lachit Borphukan etc are mere local Chieftains and their battles mere street-brawls. Till I was in the Fauj, these warriors were not studied or even mentioned or acknowledged. Doctrines, procedures and customs are not only dependent on hardware. Knowledge and pride in one’s own people and culture matters equally. On that aspect, our generation (I am of Panag’s generation) was poorly taught and trained. I doubt if Panag knows that FM Montgomery considered First Bajirao Peshwa as one of the greatest Cavalryman? I doubt it but now he will believe it because a Brit said that.

  8. It’s unfortunate that congressi, Chinese/Paki paid Islamo-leftists like this author & the publisher spend so much time on irrelevant anti Hindu, anti India & anti BJP propaganda!!

    The Indian public should see into these bigots and force them to talk of positives in Indian society and help in nation building!! The media & publishers like @The Print should talk on positive issues like artificial intelligence (AI) development and how this needs to be pushed in India!! This is done systematically in USA/China/Europe but too many Indians spend time on stupid protests & useless criticism!!

  9. We are very lucky that America considers China a global enemy, so India as China’s next door neighbor will get American protection. Otherwise, Narendra Modi’s shenanigans will make our forces totally useless for all practical purpose.

  10. Complete display of corruption in thought and moral. The general has no credit for his opinion, has tied the most lucrative line always while in service, there is no theme or thought for the write up other than an Anti Modi rant(as usual) Which is expected of Gen Panag!. Where is the content?

  11. Being anti-Modi media, the print looks for such articles that try to demean & discredit Modi!
    Jai Hind!!

  12. ‘…. indigenisation of “doctrines, procedures and customs” that lacks clarity.
    No, it doesn’t.
    It’s clear that the regime wants horse-driven chariots, chakravyuh, trishul, bows, etc. to be deployed by the military instead of advanced weapons and communication equipment.
    For uniform, tilak to replace face camouflage, dhoti to replace pants, kada to replace watches.
    For diet, cow milk and sattu to replace high protein non-veg meals.

  13. The safronisaton (or any other political hue for that matter) spells the doom of any professional and apolitical organization. Having reduced the police forces to the current despicable levels through politicisation of the rank and file, now they want to do the same to the armed forces for petty, short-term gains. They don’t care for the irreparable damage that they are doing!

    The sad part is that the hatchet job is being done through the political appointee, Mr. Rawat, who goes around as the CDS.

  14. Why Panag has a problem, why do you look down upon the JCOs and NCOs. Kargil war saw the bravery of these ranks. Their sacrifices. Upto Colonel level these JCOs are the cream. Without their bravery the Generals and Core commanders will be twiddling their fingers and shouting on the communications. Old man knows how the army fights. Bada sahibs and Bada khana at the mess all and chamchagiri for foreign travel during those loosing war days are gone. Nehru, Indira Rajiv never bothered. Don’t put Sam in their league, we know how he felt about the jokers in Delhi specially MoD. Panang please enjoy those medals and enjoy the OROP spension. I think your priorities are misplaced. Thank Old man to bring so much to the common soldiers for equipment. Other wise Generals became agents of Defence contractors. I know Maj Gen in MES in Dehu Road who was corrupt and a casa nova. He needed Girls plus cash or foreign jaunts during his day’s in MES. Shame to these parasite bastards.

    • Well said Sir.
      Mr. Panag has become a petty politician. Hence i refuse to address him as General.

  15. I would like to inform the learned General that indeginizing the strategic doctrines could be referred back to Kautilya’s Mandala theory. Recently, The Print itself carried an excellent article on this subject. I can do no better than refer the learned General to it. Nehru foolishly thought that all the countries sharing borders with India are friends and India got kicked in the balls twice: once in 1948 by losing a part of Kashmir and another time in 1962 by China. If Nehru had less prejudice against India, and heeded the advice of Sardar Patel, he would have treated Pakistan and China as inherent enemies and tried to strike friendship with countries sharing borders with those two countries. His pacifist Non-Aligned Movement spelt ruination for India. Now, Modi is following this Mandala theory by striking friendship with countries of Central Asia which share border with China, Mangolia, Iran, Afghanistan, South East Asian countries. One can see that last seven years strategy is yielding results. Pakistan sued for cease fire once again, and China withdrew from Pangong Tso. These are definitely tactical gains of New Defence Policy being pursued. All of us have our biases and prejudices. But, they should not become visceral.

  16. What a complete waste of space. Nothing in the article apart from a generic rant. Please publish the general if he has anything of substance.

  17. Criticizing for the sake of critisizing Where was he and his ideas when India was battling chinese recently?
    Nothing will happen to Indian armed forces if such a meet is held anywhere in India. As a senior defence personal , he should know that such words will arm our enemy beyond borders and within.

  18. Does all this mean that Modi promises the average a decent mail when he is out fighting for the country ? Hardly.

  19. Cant agree with the PM more. The elite in the Armed forces have systematically sabotaged self reliance efforts. The no import list which should have many more items have been resisted tooth and nail.

  20. There’s larger gap discrimination in disability pension . 7cpc recommended 12000 for sepoy 27000 for officers but this government implemented 9300 for sepoy and 67500 for officers. After all disability pension is welfare and should be equal for all. Even CDS Bipin Rawat has pointed out it is a huge discrimination and gap should be narrowed . But nobody has cared to promote the welfare of sepoy and other lower ranks. But government thinks allowing sepoy to participate in the meet and giving LAADDU only pave the way promote welfare of sepoy . This only shows government making fun in respect sepoy’s welfare.

  21. It is good attempt by government to include jco/ nco in the formal meeting conferences and it is urgently required. Good move by modi government.

  22. The Indian Army officer is at a first meeting a complete English army officer. He even manages to look English; his gait and bearing are English; his mannerisms, his tastes in drink are English; his slang is English. In the Indian setting this Indian English mimicry is like fantasy. It is an undiminishing absurdity; and it is only slowly that one formulates what was sensed from the first day: this is a mimicry not of England, a real country, but of the fairy-tale land of Anglo-India, of clubs and sahibs and syces and bearers. It is as if an entire society has fallen for a casual confidence trickster. Casual because the trickster has gone away, losing interest in his joke, but leaving the Anglo-Indians flocking to the churches of Calcutta on a Sunday morning to assert the alien faith, more or less abandoned in its country of origin

    The outer and inner worlds do not have the physical separateness which they had for us in Trinidad. They coexist; the society only pretends to be colonial; and for this reason its absurdities are at once apparent. Its mimicry is both less and more than a colonial mimicry. It is the special mimicry of an old country which has been without a native aristocracy for a thousand years and has learned to make room for outsiders, but only at the top. The mimicry changes, the inner world remains constant: this is the secret of survival. And so it happens that, to one whole area of India, a late seventeenth-century traveller like Ovington remains in many ways a reliable guide.

    – V. S Naipaul

  23. The Indian Army officer is at a first meeting a complete English army officer. He even manages to look English; his gait and bearing are English; his mannerisms, his tastes in drink are English; his slang is English. In the Indian setting this Indian English mimicry is like fantasy. It is an undiminishing absurdity; and it is only slowly that one formulates what was sensed from the first day: this is a mimicry not of England, a real country, but of the fairy-tale land of Anglo-India, of clubs and sahibs and syces and bearers. It is as if an entire society has fallen for a casual confidence trickster. Casual because the trickster has gone away, losing interest in his joke, but leaving the Anglo-Indians flocking to the churches of Calcutta on a Sunday morning to assert the alien faith, more or less abandoned in its country of origin

    The outer and inner worlds do not have the physical separateness which they had for us in Trinidad. They coexist; the society only pretends to be colonial; and for this reason its absurdities are at once apparent. Its mimicry is both less and more than a colonial mimicry. It is the special mimicry of an old country which has been without a native aristocracy for a thousand years and has learned to make room for outsiders, but only at the top. The mimicry changes, the inner world remains constant: this is the secret of survival. And so it happens that, to one whole area of India, a late seventeenth-century traveller like Ovington remains in many ways a reliable guide

    Yesterday the mimicry was Mogul; tomorrow it might be Russian or American; today it is English. Mimicry might be too harsh a word for what appears so comprehensive and profound: buildings, railways, a system of administration, the intellectual discipline of the civil servant and the economist. Schizophrenia might better explain the scientist who, before taking up his appointment, consults the astrologer for an auspicious day. But mimicry must be used because so much has been acquired that the schizophrenia is often concealed; because so much of what is seen remains simple mimicry, incongruous and absurd; and because no people, by their varied physical endowments, are as capable of mimicry as the Indians.

    – V. S Naipaul

  24. What an absurd rant? The indigenization of “doctrines, procedures, and customs” could mean many things to many different people. Absolutely condemn the Congress stooge that the author is to bring in Hindu scriptures in his discourse. The ’empire building’ by the Indian Army to muscle out the Navy & Air Force despite the necessity for strengthening the latter over the former, under current circumstances may be one area which the PM’s exhortation could have referred to. And then is the reactionary top brass which despite the acute financial constraints won’t still go beyond cosmetic exercises. Navy’s penchant for aircraft carriers without nuclear or conventional submarines to defend them in sufficient numbers could be another. The strict segregation between officers and soldiers could be yet another. All these were borne out of the imperial British thinking that has continued to colour the minds of Indian military leadership. The ‘Sahayak’ system or the imperial behaviour of senior officers in having their coworkers service them could be another. In Bangalore, we see Army soldiers ferrying around the family of his seniors (probably) in black ambassadors. Aren’t these imperious? Can’t they take a taxi like the rest of us? In fact, it could be anything else which we won’t know until a clear set of instructions come out. Why the unnecessary babbling?

  25. Involvement of OR’s, JCO’s et al is a welcome step. It will give practical ground feedback about war, warfare, weapon and weaponry.

  26. While Army is not a corporation there is no harm in having these low cost corporate like experiments where the senior leadership gets to hear directly from the lowest levels. Not all suggestions made in a an open house need to be accepted but some great ideas may come out of it which otherwise might get lost in the hierarchical politics. And if the Army finds this experiment not working they can stop this and try something else. On the suggestion about indigenisation the PM needs to elaborate. What does it mean? India has always been so diverse and so little of this history is actually written this comment only causes confusion.

  27. Laughable ! Reminds me of Modi’s pompous claim that he told the Indian Air Force to attack Balakot in cloudy weather !! So Pakis can’t see them. Ignorance springing from an over inflated ego, is heady bliss !!

  28. Nothing sums it up better than ThePrint’s 50-word edit.

    Why it is always Hindu v/s Muslim why not other religion like christian v/s Muslim or Jews v/s Muslim, these
    media creating a narrative against each other like making these statement on headlines. In whole article there
    is no single reference or hindu or muslim but theprint did it anyways.

  29. It is good initiative by PM. There should be an end to the rule made at the time of Britishers. Army officers considered themself the god and they treat JCO and below rank soldiers as their slave, which is totally unacceptable in a democratic nation. At the start of this article itself I was expecting this article must have been written by any army officer. I was right this time. There must be some checks on officers too, since Britishers had left us in 1947.

    • Firstly, its a lie that Army officers treat themselves like god and jawans and JCOs are mistreated.
      Secondly, Army/Navy/Airforce are there to protect democracynot to practise it. (I hope You understand what I am saying)
      Thirdly, Yes The doctrines, procedures etc have been copied from outside by Army/Navy/Airforce. They need to be indigenous.
      Fourthly, don’t take the writer seriously ask people who served alongwith him.

  30. You have become a politician and not remained as an ex general of the Indian Army. So why don’t you join a political party of your choice.

  31. Gen is at best a naughty fellow and a nut otherwise. But one must read his articles to understand angularities in his thinking and be amused. By the way, Gen must visit Kevadia once and enjoy the beautiful location on the banks of Narmada.

  32. Do not who to blame more – Modi or Gen Rawat? Both, together, has politicised the army and made is a plank of Modi publicity – no more.
    Quite a fall for an army which was once a very potent force – Teri nigaah se dil, seenon mein kanpte the ( there was a time when hearts (of opponents ) used to quiver inside chests, on one sight of you). Alas. Today, third rate pickpockets of Lahore and Srinagar are taking on our army, without a thought. No one at all is deterred by Indian army. Who will – knowing it is political force, not military.
    Am not talking of contribution of Gen Naravaane, COAS, as he no longer matter in the army. A chaprasi of PMO matters more.

    • Running the Armed forces is not running a political party. Our politicians love to break institutions and politicise them. Only the Armed forces symbolise the sovereignty of a country, other armed groups do not . Politicise the forces and suffer the consequences.

    • Very well said Col Alok Asthana.

      One hopes that the politicisation of the Armed Forces along religious lines does not lead to situations where the discrimination of non-saffron soldiers affects the efficacy of the Forces. Alas, with top brass from the Forces eyeing lucrative political careers after retirement and conniving with saffron politicians, that is unlikely to happen. And then you have a situation where the one institution in the country that was not politicised also gets hollowed out by India’s seditious politicians.

      Please post more Sir. Always a pleasure to read your pithy and hard-hitting posts.

  33. LT GEN Panag (RETD) is mostly right. War is a globalised Science and Indians did not historically had much interest in strategy and tactics. But those in the army should be allowed to reinvent ancient tactics to suit modern needs. We do not need to go far to see why. The Republic of China followed western doctrines and sufficiently modernised its army. Yet it lost very badly to Japanese forces. But during the korean war, the chinese successfully defeated UN forces by closely following Sun Tzu’s art of war. They lit up the entire forests surrounding American troops. This gave their enemy the impression that they are surrounded. After this the Chinese started beating drums and attacked. All these had sufficiently demoralised American/UN troops who lost the will to fight and fled. Whether India can sufficiently reinterpret tactics ranging from Chakra Vyuha to muslim horse archers and skirmishers and Maratha Gaamini Kava-depends entirely on the creativity and resourcefulness of Indian armed forces.
    While war is certainly a global science and we must keenly watch the new tactics emerging from the battlefields of Nagerno-Karabakh, Africa, Syria- it must be understood that having some new tactics in our sleeve is the only way to stay ahead of our enemies. To put it simply, we must be Jio rather than Vodafone.

  34. Brains regimented and moulded in cast iron can hardly welcome a change in their colonial plate curated to design. Except C.Os durbar that fetches nothing and Bada khana with an extra pappad, the soldier remains cut off from the world of defence except of course when he is required to be used as a cannon fodder. To be treated as part of the ensemble after some 20 years of service in the Army by those that matter is indeed a great pride long over due. These egg heads who stole his chicken and made them walk their dogs of course have reason to feel ashamed to be seen with them by the side. Ranks count but not social classification is a lesson they have to learn in this new avatar !

  35. Wonderfully argued . Raised very pertinent issues . Nothing is done without intent . Cannot leave things simple . Must leave his stamp of bravado and flamboyance and hog limelight to further his appeal . Does not miss a chance to carve out his political constituency . Master craftsman of political opportunism .

  36. Yes, The Print edit sums it up. One fact that is missing there may be that from the time of mythology every battle and every war fought on Indian soil without exception was lost because there was an insider who sold out the loser – a minor observation.

    Warfare is a globalized science, as it always has been – only weapon systems have changed. Today the enemy may be lurking in your drawing room, study or even in the kitchen; ah yes! You are right maybe he is in your pocket too.

    Tail piece: It is best that the line between policies and execution is respected.

  37. Lot of fancy cutlery, crockery, crystal for fine dining in the messes. Perhaps thaalis with katoris and eating with the hands could be encouraged. Tandoori chicken was not really meant to be eaten with a fork and a knife.

  38. Reading between lines and the fine print of Gen Panag’s views can best be understood by those within / outside the Defence service who are well exposed to the environment he has so resolutely served with to retire as a General. He deserves an impartial and unbiased hearing.

    • This man is a ROGUE
      Gen Panag my LEFT FOOT! he is like that rogue Admiral Ramdas!
      Aam Aadmi Party Member
      Father of Gul Panag
      Staunch Anti Modi
      Chinese SPY
      ideally he should be arrested

  39. If this is the case then a common man should be invited in the parliamentary sessions too. He will give his valuable inputs to the PM to run the country. I bet PM cannot face the common man even for a minute ….

  40. He is the same general who tweeted to have a revolt or coop if NaMo comes to power in 2014. So can anyone even imagine him to have a sane or unbiased approach towards the current dispensation. Nothing article as usual. I wonder how many or of his ilk might still be in the army

    • @Michael Bell: All congress/communist & anti nationals must be purged from the army & other Indian institutions!! The slaves of Congress/Nehru are even daring to criticize Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel without whom India would have been balkanized by Nehru who was basically anti Hindu as also undemocratic & incompetent!!

      BJP espousing Sardar Patel is a sign of BJP’s large heart & patriotism in adopting values of a rare congress man who had worked for the nation; including the majority!! Time for congress/leftists to repent for the horrors against Sarvarkar & espouse his values!!

  41. The margdarshak mandal must learn to behave like the margdarshak and opine when asked for.
    It is very important and dignified to accept when the time is over and genext will and must have its own way of functioning.
    Seeking relevance in perpetuity is never possible.

  42. Don’t know who is more to blame for this stupidity- Modi or the CDS? As for COAS, he has no role any more in command of Indian army. It is all under Modi, then his chaprasis of PMO and whatever is left- Gen Rawat.
    A highly politicised, hence unprofessional army.

    • Yes sir correct how can they call slave of armed forces to share the dias. Officers are God and JCO and below rank comes under slave category since Britishers. Who the hell said ‘INDIA is a democratic country’.

  43. Sheesh. This article, at best, can be described as a rant of a learned man. No value, no depth, feels like republic TV in written form. Yes, it’s that bad.

  44. while I respect Lieutenant general Panag, and in fact has been amused by his quirky behavior while in service and after, I now consider that his views cannot be accepted as that of a soldier, because he has shown a certain political inclination.
    He doesn’t seem to understand that the participation of the O/R is not at the combined commanders’ conference but as an adjunct that in a separate meeting where soldiers’ views will be heard. They’re not going to talk about. They are not going to talk about the cold start doctrine or the ORBAT the matters that concern the other ranks.
    In fact, this article is unnecessary and is misleading and not expected of an army commander. It is a work of an aspiring politician who will reach nowhere

  45. General panag seems to have the panacea to heal all ills of the country, the army and each and every geo political challenge of the nation.
    It’s a shame that he did not use this remarkable insight and prowess when he was is in command.

  46. पड़े अपावन तोर में, कंचन तजे न कोय….I recommend read what the author has written, rather than comment on him or his personality. He has made some very relevant points that need to be taken note of. Profession of arms has taken centuries to develop, and those into it spend years learning and modifying how and what to do. The ultimate test of any change adopted, is during war or emergency situation,and so
    changes to existingg patterns and organization’s are made after great caution and care, reluctantly in a way it may appear; and not on whims and off cuff comments.

  47. It is good to have an opinion or feedback from a larger audience. That is why junior officers were invited in the conference. Senior officers should not feel insecure. Other parts of the country, apart from Delhi, have equal stakes in the armed forces. They should also get the opportunity to host such events.

  48. The excercise was nothing but pure and simple Politicisation of Armed forces. The so called indigenisation of doctrine is tilting the balance of forces towards right wing.

    • @Vasant Nalawade: This article is proof that Congress/commies had infiltrated it’s Anti Hindu & anti Indian ideology in all institutions as well as society!! Time to purge these anti nationals! & anti Hindu bigots!

      Let the congress/commies ask American President to stop taking oath on the Bible or advocate that Indian PM’s too take oath on the Gita!! Let them prove their so called secularism & human rights through some Hindu bias instead of appeasing Muslim/Christian all the time!!!

  49. Just because Bharat lost to the Muslims(UMMAH) and Christians(COLONIAL), doesn’t mean our customs are old or ancient. Had we won Bharat’s customs would have been termed as modern. The military should be Indigenised(Saffronize or Brahminisize or Sanskritize would be a better term for people with prejudice) from top to bottom and it will be done. Moreover kindly understand BJP is not a right-wing party, there is no right-wing in Bharat, yes there is left-wing and that’s not INC(it’s Colonized).

    • Mr Keyur: When you brayed:

      “.. The military should be Indigenised (Saffronize or Brahminisize or Sanskritize would be a better term for people with prejudice) from top to bottom ..”

      you seem to have given short shrift to the fact that India’s Armed Forces comprise of people from all religions, castes, creeds and states. Hence when you insist on re-designing the Army on saffron lines, several questions arise.

      1: Wouldn’t the unity, morale and cohesion in the Armed Forces be adversely affected if Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Dalits, atheists come to realise that they are second class soldiers and perhaps mere cannon fodder in a saffron army ?

      2: In the saffronised, brahminised forces that you want, wouldn’t soldiers of all religions and ethnicities be swearing allegiance to the fascist Hindutva ideology rather than to the Constitution of India?

      3. In the saffronised, brahminised Army of yours, would everyone be expected to eat vegetarian food in keeping with Brahminical codes? After all, even the BCCI has written to Australian cricket authorities that beef should not be served to Indian cricket players. So why not force everyone in the Forces, from Siachen down to Golwan to eat Dharmic food ? Oops, I forgot that Golwan is now in China … but you get the point don’t you ?

      Reading these jingoistic, Hindutva inspired posts of Modi bhakths like you, one cannot but conclude that your ilk is indeed what constitutes a “fifth column” in India. I am pretty sure that China and Pakistan would welcome this worldview.

      DISGUSTING MR KEYUR !

    • Seriously igniting content, refrain from your spreading such thoughts.
      Govts will come and go , but the nation will stay.

      Don’t disturb the national equilibrium by such fuel for propaganda warriors.

  50. Both the great liberal author,and established anti BJP General, will never see anything positive in anything this Government ventures upon.
    He Ram!

    • @Sukriti R Bhattacharya
      Becausee there is nothing positive to see in what this Government does. It’s as simple as that. Why don’t you enlighten us with the list of positives Mudi has done in the Armed forces?

      • Modi lost land to China and said nothing happened. That is a first !

        Chowkidar allowed 58 solidiers to be killed in Pulwama, conducted a surgical strike and lost a plane and a pilot, and won an election based on it. That is an achievement !

        • Brilliant sarcasm Spinner saab ! Loved it !

          Indeed, the all-knowing shaka alumnus advised IAF generals that they should conduct the air raid on a specific day becuase there was rain and cloud cover that day. The RSS genius honestly believed that Pakistani radar would be in-effective when there were clouds and wouldn’t spot Indian planes. Well, they did and India embarassed itself by having its plane shot down and one of its pilots being captured by Pakistan.

          Likewise, as you rightly point out, the gradual encroachment on Indian territory and the loss of Indian territory to China is something the Modi friendly press never talks about. But the fact is, India is getting squeezed by China militarily and economically and this is seldom discussed.

          Worse still, India which was considered a beacon of democracy and tolerance in a volatile, undemocratic region is now losing the soft power edge it had over China and Pakistan. As the reports from Freedom House, V-Dem and the Economist Intelligence Unit show.

          But as you remark, when you have a supine media, an IT Cell that spews canards and sings praises to the Prophet, a divided and incoherent opposition led by dynasts of the like of RaGa and an easily fooled electorate in the populous BIMARU belt, well, Modi’s lies carry the day. Even a massive attack on the poor through the idiotic, hare-brained scheme called demonetisation that actually killed people did not have any effect. When you are in a cult, be it the Baba Ram Rahin cult, the Asaram Bapu cult or the Modi cult, you suspend critical thinking, even when you are being harmed by the cult.

          As Mark Twain said:

          “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled”

          Please do write more Spinner Saab. It is a rarity these days to find people who think for themselves instead of swallowing everything emanating from the saffron propaganda machinery.

          Here are the references to the reports I cited above. They are free to download.
          1: FREEDOM IN THE WORLD 2021: Democracy under Siege from Freedom House;
          Ref: bit.ly/3bMC5jy

          2: Autocratization Turns Viral: DEMOCRACY REPORT 2021; Varieties of Democracy; Ref: bit.ly/3bH9uwe

          3: Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report “Democracy Index 2020: In sickness and in health?”; Ref: bit.ly/30Fbwqa

      • Rafale jets, Tejas jets, Scorpene submarines, Arjun tanks, Predator drones, CDS, OROP, S-400, millitary logistics agreement with USA, Japan, Australia, France, Singapore, millitary bases in Mauritius, Oman are just few of the achievements.

      • It is there for all to see

        Not worth enlightening those who are too dumb to see or too opinionated to acknowledge

      • @Deb: First prove you have brains by enlightening us on the positives that congress & commies brought to India!!! Don’t forget to showcase how these anti Hindu bigots sided with Islamic terrorists to create Pakistan and kept those who voted for Islamic terrorism in India!!

  51. Despite his best efforts , retired general couldn’t control his political preference overshadow his seemingly straightforward questions. He hates modi and always try to find some faults with his defence related actions..

    • Anyone paid by Congress/Pakistan/China can write BS against BJP/PM Modi & Hindus!!

      Wonder why can’t these anti nationals won’t practice their art of lying & bigotry in Islamic Pakistan/Bangladesh or communist China!!

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