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Monday, August 27, 2012

Guest Post: Two back to back write-ups on suicides and related issues in the defence services

Daily News and Analysis (DNA) had published a thought provoking OPed by former Vice Chief Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi titled ‘Take turbulence in the ranks seriously’.
Col Karan Kharab (Retd) responds and follows it up through his guest post ‘Suicides in the Army, diagnosis and remedy’.

The views expressed are not of this blogger. 

Take turbulence in the ranks seriously
Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd)

Three incidents of collective indiscipline by jawans in the last few months, reflecting a breakdown in the traditionally close officer-man relationship, are a cause for concern, especially as all three of them are related to combat units, where a stable and healthy officer-man relationship is an article of faith.
The Indian Army, with a justifiably proud record of service to the nation, has always placed officers-men bonding at the highest level.
In the past, the army has handled such incidents with compassion and firmness. Such incidents will no doubt happen again. However, there is need for comprehensive remedial actions. We must not succumb to a tendency of being simplistic, like attributing such incidents to recent cases of corruption amongst a few senior officers. Such attributions are obviously absurd, as these are two vastly different issues. The need is actually to focus on command and control, discipline and officer-man relationships.
In combat units, a thorough knowledge of jawans by their officers is a must. Included in this are the jawans’ capabilities and limitations; what enthuses or dampens their spirits; their backgrounds as well as of their families; and whether they are team persons or loners. Earlier, senior unit officers acted as guides and mentors in this respect. Unfortunately, on account of the huge shortage of officers in combat units today, as well as the large number of tasks assigned to the few available officers, it is virtually impossible for them to spare time to do so now.
The main reason for this state of affairs is the prolonged employment in fighting insurgents and terrorists over decades now, which have taken stress and fatigue to extremely high levels. These operations are extremely difficult and full of tension, especially on account of scrupulously adhering to human rights norms.
A major caveat of the army’s secondary role of assisting the civil administration is that it must be released as soon as the task is over, but in counter-insurgency operations there appears to be no end state! There has been no insurgency in the north eastern states for many years now, but neither the states concerned nor the central government want to release the army. In J&K, the situation has improved vastly, but the police forces are not in a position to assume control. The army’s reasoning that the situation will deteriorate rapidly if the army is de-inducted is sound, but why are the police forces not being made capable?
While the government must squarely take the blame for this state of affairs, the army hierarchy also needs to be blamed for not pursuing it relentlessly.
There are also three other issues that need to be tackled by the government. The first is deliberately downgrading the esteem and importance of the military by successive governments. This has resulted in our soldiers becoming greatly disillusioned not only with the government officials but, what is worse, also with their own officers, who are being viewed as devoid of any power, as civil and police officials studiously ignore requests from commanding officers relating to various problems of soldiers projected by them. This is in stark contrast to earlier times when the civil officials responded with alacrity when a commanding officer wrote to them about the personal or collective problems of his jawans. This aspect needs immediate improvement by good governance and by educating the officials.
Soldiers’ lay their lives on the line, not because of the pay or allowances that they get (which in any case are less than what the equivalent civil officials receive) but because of their self-esteem and military √©lan. These need to be nurtured by the civil administration.
The second and related issue is the military intake. Although recruitment rallies draw large numbers, the reason is no longer pride in joining the military but massive unemployment, resulting in inferior manpower joining the military. In the case of officers, young men from traditional military families are no longer enthused with the forces. The main reason is the decline of respect for the military.
The last point is the treatment of the veterans. The government needs to understand that the policy of ignoring those who have served the nation sacrificing their all will be a disaster in the long run. Future generations will not heed the call of the bugle when they see neither respect nor adequate financial benefits being given to the veterans. The present indifference and callousness must end.
Will Delhi wake up?
The writer is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff. 

Suicides in the Army – Diagnosis and Remedy

Col Karan Kharb (Retd)

Something very sinister is around.  Operational stress and official neglect are taking their toll in soldiers committing suicides and protesting in a mutinous manner. Whereas step-motherly treatment meted out by the Sixth Pay Commission to the Armed Forces is one of the reasons for the falling morale, persistent indifference shown by the Government has also added to the discontent. Even more saddening is the fact that the Military authorities too have been brushing aside the malaise within. Recently, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, former Vice Chief of Army Staff presented his diagnosis of the problem in an article.  Here are some additional inputs. 

Downgrading Esteem and Importance of Military
Halos are extinct and larger-than-life images have shrunk to real-life size everywhere in modern times. The so-called all-powerful bureaucrats are being shunted around from one post to another like shuttlecocks at the whims and fancies of political bosses. Their careers alternate between witch-hunt and reward depending upon what kind of political boss they get to serve under. Sunk in depravity, our politicians have suffered their loss of image and credibility too. Nobody now buys pictures of these leaders to display in homes or offices until official rules compel to do so. Within themselves too, the same chair brightens or dims differently under different occupants. World’s most qualified Prime Minister Manmohan Singh compares atrociously with under-matriculate Indira Gandhi. Time was when magnitudes of humanity poured to have glimpse of Nehru but not any longer.
What has survived, however, is people’s abiding love and respect for the sincere, able, honest and courageous leaders. They become icons of popular hope and respect. Oddly, some of them come from the same rotten environment that media and people – we included – hate and abuse for all our problems today – the bureaucracy. Agreed, those who choose to defy the Establishment and follow the dictates of their conscience are not many. Yet, we can see that those who did stood up and changed the course of things drew public applause like TN Sheshan, E Sreedharan, Vinod Rai, Kiran Bedi to name a few. In an even more degenerative field of politics too, we do have a crop, however miniscule, of off-beat progressive leaders like Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar. 
Military in India has been somehow shy of public exposure – a mistake that held it back from joining, leave alone leading, the mainstream freedom struggle despite Netaji’s call for the INA. Such a stance of aloofness emboldened Nehru and Krishna Menon to treat the Military nothing more than a workforce that could be employed for constructing roads and canals even as they doubted its loyalty and feared coups. Field Marshal Manekshaw is perhaps the only Indian General who did make a difference in exalting the military reputation. Lately, Gen VK Singh did stand up boldly enough but the issue he took up first (date of birth) was unfortunately too small and personal for the position he held.  Later of course, he did write boldly to the Prime Minister and did not hesitate to apprise the people about essentials of national security.
Unfortunately, the inter-Services and intra-service feuds are doing the Military more damage than any politico-bureaucratic dispensation. The day the three Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces stand up jointly as custodians of national security to express their concern and advice, no Government will dare to brush it aside.  Also, taxpayers are entitled to know the state of their Armed Forces and, therefore, the Chiefs of the Armed Forces (sorry, I don’t call them ‘Services’) should be required to formally address the Parliament and inform the people on matters of national security and the state of defence preparedness. There can be debates and disagreements on the opinions they express but who, if not they, would be better qualified to speak about matters of national defence and security? Sadly though, it may be recalled how an Army Chief was ticked off by a former defence minister for his remark about the un-demarcated border in Arunachal Pradesh. Likewise, a Vice Chief of the Army Staff was snubbed by Shushma Swaraj so angrily that just the next day an apologetic general withdrew his fully justified and well informed opinion about the handicap of women joining the Army. Had they both reasserted their stand as professionals without giving in to the bully in the lobby, military’s image would have been fairly vindicated and credibility enhanced. Alas, that did not happen.
To sum up, I would reiterate the comment I made on an earlier occasion: The truth is that abstract decorations like esteem, image, honour and izzet abhor pleading, and are not available on request anywhere in the world. Being embellishments of power, these gems of credit can be only earned by merit or seized by force. Repeated pleadings will surely get us more sympathy, pity and merciful reportage though. 

‘Inferior Manpower Joining the Military’
Undoubtedly, the quality of officer intake has gone down. The quality of jawans, on the other hand should have only improved with more graduates and technically qualified youth joining the ranks. Perhaps the crux of the problem lies at the centre of this matrix where a subordinate views himself academically equal or better qualified than his boss. Don’t we see a shade of this attitude in the outbursts of our Olympian celebrity Sub Vijay Kumar? With an increasing number of officers now hailing from the same socio-economic milieu as their NCOs/OR, the tradition of officers being ‘friendly but not familiar’ with men stands diluted while the British legacy of ‘Koi haiy’ sahibs and servile, obsequious followers has continued despite noticeable resistance. It is good that the Army has decided to hire civilian sahayaks and other menials in place of combatants.    
I think time has come when officer-man relationship needs to be redefined so as to weave them into an integrated whole. Simplistic solutions based on traditional thinking will not do.  A paradigm shift is warranted to enable higher commanders to view the whole spectrum from a different angle and discover invisible challenges and opportunities. 

The Irony of ‘Shortage of Officers’
In the present scenario of military operations, maximum load comes on the unit where out of an average of 22 officers authorised, only 8-10 are posted. Considering those away on leave and courses out of these, it is 4-5 officers who share the load of 22. Obviously, these officers, already stressed, have neither time nor energy to inter-act with their men in sports, training, welfare and leisure time where they could detect and diffuse discontent, if any.
Oddly enough, above the unit level there is no deficiency of officers at any headquarters even though all field formations largely remain static and un-engaged in operations that are almost always limited to unit/sub-unit level actions. Higher the headquarters, more the unauthorised attachments! Why? Because the higher boss needs luxury and the attached finds his haven to the arduous unit tenure, and also earns a better ACR through influence. 
Despite deficiency of officers, which is alarming by any count, all the pressure of VIP visits (a euphemism for pleasure trips) comes to rest on the concerned units where officers and men frantically work round the clock only to earn a ‘shabash’ from the bara sahib. And imagine the height of hypocrisy displayed by a ‘punctilious’ GOC who, on his insistence, was presented a mess bill of Rs 45/- for three days of royal revelry organised by a unit for him and his entourage of personal guests. Clearing it for prompt payment, he said, “I have never left a guest room without paying the mess bill”. Higher commanders need to introspect earnestly and seek answers to some straight but pricky questions: Am I using more man-power and resources than authorised, like Flag Guard, sahayaks, drivers, vehicles etc?  Then follow your conscience, not necessarily the rulebook.
Also, the higher commanders need to restrain themselves from meddling in unit affairs.  Too much of curiosity and eagerness to address Durbars, meet individual officers and JCOs and listen to their problems is an intrusion into the CO’s domain which must be strengthened and never weakened at any cost. Remove and sack a CO, if required, but let the next one function with freedom and authority.  Likewise, within the unit, COs too have diluted the trust and bondage sub-unit commanders traditionally had with their JCOs and men. Build the sub-unit commanders into effective leaders. 
Lastly, a question: The Prime Minister warned the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15th August this year that the economic slowdown posed threats to national security. Should the custodians of National Security remain silent an inactive when such crisis is impending? There is risk involved in seeking answer to such grave questions. But should such risks deter them?
May they find right answers to mighty questions concerning National Security and move boldly and diligently in unison. I wish the Indian Armed Forces and the country glorious times ahead.

Col Karan Kharab was commissioned in the Bihar Regiment and commanded 21 BIHAR. He was also an instructor in the IMA and had a stint with the NSG. He can be reached at karankharab [at] gmail.com 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Increment as a one time measure w.e.f 01 Jan 2006 : Orders for Defence Services issued by the Govt

As discussed earlier on the blog, the Ministry of Finance had issued a circular inter alia with the following provisions for civilian employees:

“…the President is pleased to decide that in relaxation of stipulation under Rule 10 of these Rules, those central government employees who were due to get their annual increment between February to June during 2006 may be granted one increment on 1.1 .2006 in the pre-revised pay scale as a one time measure and there after will get the next increment in the revised pay structure on 1.7.2006 as per Rule 10 of CCS(RP)Rules, 2008. The pay of the eligible employees may be re-fixed accordingly.”

As is the case in all pay and pensionary orders, the Defence and the Railway Ministries usually issue separate orders for defence and railway employees respectively.

The said Govt order has been issued this month by the Ministry of Defence and the same can be downloaded by clicking here.

The cumulative arrears of pay and pensioners (for those who retired thereafter) would not have to be re-calculated and released to affected personnel and pensioners.

I would request readers not to send me individual mails or queries on this subject since the  concerned letters are self-explanatory. Whatever needs to be discussed or thrashed out may be done in the 'comments' section of this blogpost.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lack of details in PM’s speech on military pay and pension anomalies

For all those who are wondering why the Prime Minister only briefly touched the matter regarding implementation of the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries examining pay and pension anomalies of the services and did not fully discuss the details in his Independence Day Speech, it would be worthwhile to inform that firstly the Committee could not submit the report by 08 August 2012 as envisaged by the order of the PMO and there still were some loose ends and some dissenting voices from the side of the Defence Ministry. And secondly, it has come to note that the implementation could not be officially announced because of the lack of a cabinet nod and hence the absence of the formal acceptance of the report by the govt. Mr Deshmukh’s untimely demise added to the delay.

On implementation, which should be in the very near future, the military community can expect bridging of the gap between pre and post 2006 retirees by further enhancement of weightages for pension, enhancement of pension of commissioned officer retirees on the principles of modified parity, dual family pension for widows, removal of bar of continuance of family pension on marriage of handicapped kin, introduction of common pay-scales for ranks below commissioned officers and non-functional upgradation (NFU) for commissioned officers. Civilian pensioners can also be expected to be benefited as a result of modification of pensionary modalities. 

Enhancement of Grade Pay for commissioned ranks and enhanced initial pay fixation for Lt Cols, Cols and Brigs may not be recommended by the committee and would in all probability be kept pending for further deliberations.

Still, there’s many-a-slip in the domain of officialdom, as we all know, hence reactions on the fresh provisions should be reserved till the time the recommendations are officially notified as accepted with full details. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What can be legitimately expected? : PM appointed Committee of Secretaries looking into Pay and Pension anomalies

It seems that the PM appointed Committee of Secretaries looking into the anomalies affecting serving and retired defence personnel is ready with its report.

What I’m placing on the blog in the following lines is broadly what is expected out of the committee’s recommendations.

However, please do be warned that the thought-process of the committee is only recommendatory in nature and is yet to be accepted by the PM, and also, that the final turn out could be different than what may be recommended.

The low-down below on the majority of issues is just what can be reasonably expected, however kindly be reserved about bouquets or brickbats as yet till the time the matter is officially announced.

One Rank One Pension for ranks other than commissioned officers: The concept of OROP as classically understood, may not be accepted. However the gap between pre and post 2006 pensioners would further be bridged. The last time this was done in March 2010 when the Committee of Secretaries had recommended the enhancement of pensions on 01 July 2009. The Govt would most probably implement further enhancement of pensionary weightages applicable to lower ranks to compensate them for their truncated careers thereby further reducing the gap. Not exactly OROP but would provide succour to lower ranks for sure. The weightages currently applicable are 10, 8, 6 and 5 years for Sepoys, Naiks, Havildars and JCOs respectively.

Widows’ Pensions: Family pensions would be enhanced in all probability. As reported on the blog earlier, pension of widows would now be calculated with reference to the notional top of the 5th CPC scale within the new 6th CPC scales rather than the bottom of the scales. It may be recalled that till the 5th CPC, the pension of widows was calculated with respect to the top of the scale which was brought down to the bottom of the pay-band as a result of introduction of pay-bands by the 6th CPC.

Enhanced Pension for Commissioned Officers: While the system of calculation of other ranks has always been different and more beneficial, the pension of Commissioned Officers has traditionally been linked with the system of calculation as followed for civilian employees. The Govt is however likely to increase the pensions of commissioned officers by calculating pension based not on the minimum of the pay band but by taking the basis of minimum of pay within the pay-band. This is totally in line with what had been decided by the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in Sqn Ldr SS Matharu’s case, and by the Delhi Bench in Lt Cdr Avtar Singh and Sqn Ldr Vinod Jain’s case. This is also in line with the orders of the Full Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal rendered for civilian pensioners as a result of the long drawn struggle led by Mr V Natarajan, President, Pensioners’ Forum, Chennai. The said stipulation shall bring much needed succour especially to officers who retired from the rank of Major and Major General. If ultimately recommended and implemented, in all probability, the stipulation may also be extended to civilian pensioners thereby particularly resulting in relief to officers who retired from the Junior Administrative Grade (Deputy Secretary to Govt of India) and Senior Administrative Grade (Joint Secretary to Govt of India). While the maximum relief would be for these ranks and grades, this would result in enhancement to other grades also. 

Dual Family Pension and Pension for married handicapped kin: Currently, widows of pensioners who were in receipt of two service pensions for two separate spells of service are authorised one family pension only after the death of the employee/pensioner. This bar on the second family pension would be removed in all probability. Handicapped kin of govt employees are authorised to family pension for life but according to the interpretation of authorities, such pension was being refused to married handicapped children. This was held bad in law by the Chandigarh Bench of the AFT in the case of Vinod Kumar Vs UOI and also by the Chennai Bench and hence was not actually required to be placed before the committee having been already judicially adjudicated upon. This regressive bar is also bound to be removed. Both these stipulations are also expected to be extended to civilian pensioners.

Non Functional Upgradation: NFU for serving commissioned officers of the defence services is likely to be accepted. Though the signals are highly affirmative, nothing can be said till the time the same is done.

Enhancement of Grade Pay and other pay+status related anomalies: Enhancement of Grade Pay and the status of officers of the defence services degraded by successive pay commissions may not be resolved at the instant stage though full efforts are being made by all parties. The major stumbling block is the report by a GoM headed by Mr Pranab Mukherjee that had placed a Lt Col of the Army in between the Junior Administrative Grade (PB-3/GP 7600) and the Selection Grade (PB-4/GP 8700) based on incorrect inputs by the Finance Ministry. In the said report, officers of the Finance Ministry had also reportedly informed the GoM that officers in the Army were being promoted to the rank of Brig in 23 years of service and Maj Gen in 25 years. Both figures are grossly wrong and since there was no chance or occasion provided for military representatives to rebut these incorrect facts, the injustice got solidified. It may be recalled that even earlier, wrong pay scales of military officers had been mentioned on Page 73 of the 6th CPC report as published in 2008 on this blog, which anomaly was only to an extent rectified when Lt Cols were upgraded to Pay Band-4. Fixation of initial pay for Lt Cols, Cols and Brigs is also linked to this issue. HAG+ to all Lt Gens may not be accepted.

I would request readers again not to strongly react to the above and wait for all recommendations, and then the implementation, to be officially announced after which a detailed analysis can be carried out further. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Where are we going?

We've discussed it before.

While most of us are busy talking of high-sounding operational and strategic aspects of the military, the threat of the dragon, the cradles of terrorism around us etc, we are conveniently missing out on improving the day to day quality of life of service-members and veterans.

Could we just spare a moment from bothering about our pensions, or disability awards, or allowances, or ACRs or good postings for those who do not have a mouth, or a mouthpiece, or those who are facing the worst war possible initiated by the official establishment, whether bureaucratic or military. It’s easy for me to theoretically say this for I know that one who would risk his or her career for a cause beyond the charter of duties would be a rare breed. The one who is ambitious would not go out of the way or think beyond the box, and the one who has nothing to look forward to would not be adequately rewarded even if it is done, so he or she rather not do it.

The pitfalls of a steep competitive pyramid. It is understandable.

I know that certain issues raised by me in the past stand resolved to a certain degree and others not, the reason is not the lack of intention to resolve but again the noting sheet culture wherein a couple of officers in key appointments would justify their actions on minute sheets and file notings whereas the upper echelons, due to lack of expertise or time, or both, would not be able to see the reality through the reams of paper chase.

Bad decisions do not hurt, sadism does. And it is not hard to find around us. I would quote a few live recent examples how we are making our own suffer and how we are unable to rein in the unruliness in our behaviour. This behaviour makes the future seem rather bleak. With nobody to own up or take up on their behalf, these people suffer in silence.

The Case of Ex-Naik Suraj Bhan of the Punjab Regiment : Invalided out after being discharged on medical grounds. Extensively served in Counter Insurgency and had a fall while deployed in OP Prakram after which he developed psychiatric symptoms. The medical board declared his disability as aggravated by service but he wasn’t granted disability pension since the CDA declared his disability as ‘neither attributable to, nor aggravated by service’. He was boarded out after 9 years of service without any kind of pension. Later he was also forcibly made to attend an appeal medical board while provisions after the 5th CPC provide that an appeal medical board can only be held on a person’s own request and that too cannot go into the question of attributability/aggravation but only into the extent (percentage) of disability. Though the soldier was fully covered under the rules for grant of disability pension, the ex Naik had to fight a long battle in the Court and ultimately the Punjab & Haryana High Court by way of a detailed judgement granted him disability pension. Despite the pension, he today lives an unfulfilled life, is in a bad shape, physically and mentally, mostly remains without clothes the entire day and is kept locked in a room. He cannot sign, he cannot communicate, he cannot look after his wife and children. But what hurts is that despite all this, the Punjab Regimental Records first filed an appeal before the Division Bench of the High Court, which was again decided in favour of the soldier and now have managed to process the case for filing of an SLP in the Supreme Court. The family of the soldier has now received a notice from the Hon’ble Supreme Court to appear before it to defend his case. Where does the family go, isn’t all this devastating for them, can they afford legal help in the SC? Ten years after his invalidation and three years after he won his case in the High Court, here we are, the official establishment taking the most extreme course and directing its sadism onto a man who cannot even sign his own vakalatnama.

The case of Hav Rakesh Kumar : An ace shooter of the Amy Marksmanship Unit (AMU), he won three national awards. One day in Mhow, he went with another member of the AMU to get his new uniform from a tailor which he was to wear for an interview the next day. They met with a hit and run accident. He was on duty and not on leave and he was not doing anything which was inconsistent with his military profile. Still the Court of Inquiry declared his disability as ‘neither attributable nor aggravated by service’ without going into proper circumstances. The most disturbing part was that the CoI was conducted at his back while he was lying in a hospital bed in another city and that it carried his perfect signatures on his statement on a date when he was not even present where the CoI had supposedly taken place and when his right hand was in a state of disuse. He was boarded out when the Army thought he was not longer useful in shooting because of his head and right arm injury. Refused disability pension, he approached the Armed Forces Tribunal which also rejected his case on the ground of the conclusion by the CoI and that he was riding a ‘private motorcycle’ at the time of disability. Now imagine if this man had been a civilian employee. Not only he would have served till the age of 60 with full pension, but his entire family, expenditure etc would have been taken care of. Whom do you blame? The person for fortuitously meeting with an accident? or the system? or the Presiding officer who conducted the CoI? or the Formation Commander who signed it? Please do not blame Subedar Vijay Kumar if he leaves the Army soon, notwithstanding the accolades.

Brig TS Sekhon’s case : The retired officer had a cardiac emergency while visiting Germany and had to undergo an emergency procedure. It was certified by Indian, military as well as German doctors that the case was an emergent procedure. The cost incurred was also not very high and was in fact lower than what would have cost here in India. ECHS medical reimbursement as an emergency case was refused to him on the pretext that the policy did not cover emergencies outside India. This statement itself was false since there is no such prohibition in the policy, the policy merely states that emergent procedures can be reimbursed at govt rates. The Armed Forces Tribunal in 2010 directed the govt to release the amount at govt approved rates. Today, we are in 2012, the amount has still not been reimbursed and the officer has been informed that an appeal is being filed in the SC against the AFT verdict. What astounds is the fact that the cost of appeal would ultimately be more than the cost to be reimbursed, and moreover, the SC itself has already held in a number of cases that a medical emergency knows no national boundaries and is to be reimbursed at Indian rates even if it happens in foreign shores. Meanwhile, the veteran waits!

Non-grant of attributability/aggravation by medical boards : It has been discussed on this blog before as to how our system of assessing disabilities is less medical and more mechanical. Lesser said the better. Having been associated with similar cases for more than a decade now, I can safely say that the actions of the military medical establishment are less than desirable. They do not understand that simply by writing ‘neither attributable to, nor aggravated by service’ blindly and mathematically, they are taking away not only the service from a person but also his right to receive pension, the right of livelihood of his family, the service facilities and benefits from him & his family and the right to live a life of dignity. Why should then a person join the services? Why not join any other service on the civil side? The establishment needs to make its procedures more humane and oriented towards humanity. It may be just a stroke of a pen for a military doctor but it makes a whole world of a difference to a disabled soldier and his family for all times to come. Most of disabled soldiers are denied pension when disabilities are labelled constitutional, idiopathic or with an ‘unknown cause’ whereas rules provide that the benefit of doubt must go to service-members in such cases. The M-Block is not ready to relent, but it should wake up since times are changing, and it is these small little things which make us a laughing stock and military service one of the most unattractive services in the whole damn country.

I’ve said it before. Wake up before it’s too late. Be a little less selfish. Especially for those in uniform, you are not powerless, think of the difference you can make, think of what you can do for your peers in your own little ways. Think beyond the next rank and the next ACR, think of life beyond service when you would join the teeming ranks of those you call ‘cribbers’ or ‘burden on the system’  today.