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Monday, May 3, 2010

United States Naval Academy Forrestal lecture – Robert M Gates

Robert M Gates, as we all know, is the current Secretary of Defence of the United States. He is a former Air Force Officer and has also in the past held the appointment of Director of Central Intelligence. He has also been an academician for he was the President of the Texas A & M University.

This speech was rendered by Robert Gates at the United States Naval Academy last month. While one may expect a dekko to be taxing considering the longish nature of the text, all I can say is that you may not regret going through it since the spirit behind the talk has universal application.

Though his call for rejection of careerism may not find many takers in today’s world, the examples quoted by him may inspire some of us to give out of the box thinkers a chance.



thanks for sharing sir....since it is long...will read after PT!!!

JB Singh said...

This is plain soap box theatrics. There are a 100 reasons where a subordinates advice is rejected outright and as many more where one agrees with what ones superior says.
The examples quoted are exceptions - I think for every Maneckshaw there are 1000 officers who went home for speaking their mind.
But good stuff to motivate a passing out course. They will eventually see through it.

Anonymous said...

JB Singh seems to be quite the maverick himself. In fact, a bit embittered. He certainly is nothing if not outspoken, albeit even if only on an anonymous forum. ;)

There are thousands of examples of upright and frank officers, who spoke their mind, and yet flourished. Look to Lt Gen Hanut Singh, for an example of a man who always spoke his mind, and when needed, told his superiors to take a hike. He still made it to the Apex of the Army structure. Not by sycophancy. But by superhuman dedication to his chosen profession, and excellence in every field.

In fact, he told the governor of Sikkim to take a hike, when he demanded that the GoC receive him on the tarmac at the airport. When the governor threatened to complain to Delhi once the telephone lines which had been knocked down by a storm were back up, he offered the governor the use of the Army network which was functioning fine. The governor went home quietly.

JB Singh said...


Embittered am certainly not. In fact very pleased with the way things are going.

I do not know what the WoP says on the topic, but Gen Hanut would have definitely met the PM, if he had so demanded. But in the context of the Forrestal lecture, this example certainly ain't a relevant! It was an absurd, unreasonable demand on the part of the Guv and the august personality had the sagacity to realise that he would'nt be the last man standing in a shootout. So he quietly gave in. Wrong context - as I said.
Field Marshall Maneckshaw's standing up to the then PM in 1971 would be the right example.

Anonymous said...

JB, General Hanut Singh is also famous for being the officer who as GoC of The Armoured Div, when criticised on his planning, told the Corps Commander, "As long as I am the GoC, this is how I will run the battle, and that is the end of the matter". And then he just kept quiet.

Tell me JB, what service are you from? BSF?

JB Singh said...


This is turning out to be interesting.

1. Lt Gen Hanut was well within his rights to have said what he said. Formation Cdrs should allow lower cdrs complete autonomy in conducting operations, because they are ultimately responsible.

2.Do you think that the BSF is'nt as good as the Armoured Corps? If yes - why? How many guys do the CRPF have to lose to prove a point to us.

3. Am from the army. Certainly not the Armoured Corps!!

Actually this discussion (and I am a party to it) illustrates how voicing opinions rapidly deteriorate into personal remarks. No wonder Sen wrote The Argumentative Indian - he had guys like us in mind !!!

Anonymous said...

Maj Navdeep,

Here is a Poem for the Soldier. Do as necessary on your Blog. I am not that Computer savvy.

Cdr Retd AK Anand

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the VFW,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small..

It's so easy to forget them,
For it is so many times
That our Bobs and Jims and Johnnys,
Went to battle, but we know,

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier--
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:

JB Singh said...



I only hope Gen Hanut allowed the same freedom to his Bde Cdrs !!

Anonymous said...


Why are you getting so hot under the collar? I made no personal remark? Merely asked what service you were from? How am I to know you are not from the BSF?

Where did I say anything about the superiority of any fighting Arm? Anyway, how can you compare the BSF and the armoured corps? They are two completely different animals.

What does the CRPF have to do with this discussion? The reasons for their losses notwithstanding, they are trying their best within their limited scope.

But your high level of touchiness tells me that youre being a bit economical with the truth. Are you sure youre not a CPO officer, pretending to be from the Army?

JB Singh said...


The time has come to stop skirmishing.

Hope we can get together sometime and have a drink for indulging in such a pointless discussion.

Serving army officer (3rd generation)

My entire point in my comments on this blog is that we need to have a realistic and reasoned response to any occurrence which is sufficiently grounded so that we do not lose our perspective. Armed Forces are great - but we are a part of a greater entity.

Anonymous said...

JB: Peace. Sorry if Ive given any sort of offence, not my intent. Just wanted to help, by illustrating examples of officers who have stood their ground, and flourished as well.

Hanut Singh was a case in point, because he was principled to the point of being politically incorrect, and didnt give a damn what anyone thought.

Ie, he was blunt to the point of recklessness. Yet, he rose inexorably.

FIGHTER said...

Armed Forces are great - but we are a part of a greater entity

very well said . if we understand this 90% of our problems automatically get solved .i was looking for these words since long .