This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive
By: Yasub Ali Dogar Brigadier(Rtd.)
Pakistan Army has been the main savior of the state right from its birth looking after the multitude of refugees and defending it in wars against India. As late as 2009 checking the Taliban onslaught in Swat-Malakand and other parts of NWFP and stopping the juggernaut on its way to Islamabad just in time before it could become an uncontrollable menace. Similarly during the floods, earthquakes and other calamities/disasters it always rose to the occasion to earn the confidence and gratitude of the nation. At the same time it has been viewed as a tool of oppression during the military led governments. It owes it to the nation which is so dependent and fanciful of the Army to carry out self-analysis to further improve its cutting edge and remove the rust accumulated during last 64 years.
I got commission in 1965 soon after the 1965 war, at that time the brigade, division and the corps commanders had no responsibility other than the operational one or to look after the welfare of troops under command. The then Corps Commander, Lt Gen M M Attiqur Rahman had known 2/Lt Yasub Ali personally and knew what books he was reading as he had questions regarding that book on his subsequent visit. Similarly as late as 1978 the GOC Maj Gen Shamas ur Rahman Kallue knew every officer of his division personally.
This personal knowledge is needed for the simple reason that the troops have to be led from the front and it is only possible when you have deep intimate knowledge about everyone in your command. “The safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last, always and every time.” This is known as the “Chetwood Motto” and is the motto of all officers passing out from the PMA. Somewhere in our Military History, we seem to have forgotten the above motto which every cadet aspiring to become an officer had to learn by heart.
During this period of over 45 years I have seen a gradual degradation of the operational preparedness, efficiency, integrity and welfare of the subordinates particularly of the soldiers. It would have further degenerated had this trend not been arrested by Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The credit goes to him to once again prioritize the wellbeing and welfare of soldiers. However the recent events have clouded that good work.
The degradation of the military’s professionalism started off during the era of Gen Yahya Khan, was grossly accentuated during Gen Zia ul Haq’s period of 11 years and reached its’ climax in Gen Musharraf’s decade long rule. Since then over a period of time the Pakistan Army has become unwieldy, over staffed by general officers and has been moving away from its core responsibility of defending the Nation. Now a day’s a corps or a division commander would be involved in some or all of the following activities at the time and cost of operational preparedness of his command.
a. DHA at all major military garrisons.
b. Logistics Areas i.e. which control the static installations which were under GHQ before 1977 were placed under command corps during Gen Zia’s period.
c. Garrison schools in the cantonments and admission for Army Public Schools/Garrison Academy’s.
d. Looking after the Station/Services/Garrison clubs
e. Golf courses /polo grounds which are mostly played by officers.
f. Managing shopping centres like the Fortress Stadium, petrol pumps and a host of other commercial activities.
In short the corps/division commanders are doing most of the above tasks at the cost of their own primary responsibilities of keeping their commands operationally sound. This unfortunate trend to get involved in non-operational matters finally led to failures like the Abbottabad incident.
An effort has been made to single out major problem areas and recommendations have been made to rectify them.
Problem Area and Recommendations
1. Operational Commands: The corps, divisions or brigades should not have any administrative or station responsibilities. They should just concentrate on their operational roles. All other aspects may be looked after by other Organizations/HQs within the Pak Army.
2. The Logistic Areas: They should fall under the GHQ with control over CMH’s, supply depots, ordinance depots. workshops and all other static installations. Similarly all APS/Garrison schools be placed under the HQ Logistics Area and monitoring responsibility be that of GSO 1 (Education) at the HQ Logistics Area.
3. Corruption: There have been reports of corruption at higher level without any accountability e.g. the NLC scandal. It is clear that a corrupt leadership cannot lead troops in the field to give the supreme sacrifice of their lives. Deterrent action needs to be taken to forestall such tendencies.
4. Austerity and Simplicity. Simple and austere living should be the hall mark of Defence Services, they should be an example for the entire nation. Palatial messes, ornately decorated offices and excessive expenditures on entertainment from official funds are not keeping with Islamic or for that matter military traditions. Similarly move sanctions to attend marriages and private functions should be ruthlessly cut down.
5. Restructuring of the Army: Over a period of time the Pakistan Army has become too big for peace time and too small for a war with our main adversary. We need to find our solution in a military system like that of Switzerland, Sweden or Israel. The size of the Army can be safely reduced by 25% by adopting a hybrid system of mobilization suited for our requirements.
6. Organizational Restructuring:
a. In certain sectors the Division HQs may be reduced to the level of a Tactical Headquarters and huge paraphernalia of administrative services saved or merged in Logistics/Sub Areas. It is understood that France, Italy and even Turkey have removed one of the echelons i.e. either Brigade or Division HQ. I suggest merging the Corps HQs and Division HQs.
b. The concept of a pentangular organizational structure may be examined for adoption in the Army instead of the present triangular one. This entails having five brigade groups of five battalions each. Lahore/Sialkot Corps areas can be looked after by one such Combat HQ each. The strength ratios for other sectors can be worked out separately. There is no requirement for a division HQ in such a setup. The pentangular organizational structure is already in place to an extent in 10 Corps.
c. Teeth to Tail Ration: Maximum manpower of Army, Navy and PAF should be converted into teeth. Israeli Army IDF’ ratio may be taken as an example. It is felt that we have a very heavy tail employing a large number of officers and men in HQs and on administrative tasks at the cost denuding these resources from operational tasks.
d. Special Forces: It is the future of warfare, properly employed they yield results out of proportion to their numbers. At least one commando battalion can be created in every infantry division without
e. Unnecessary Organizations: Artillery Divisions, Heavy and Light Anti-Tank Battalions are redundant organizations wasting high quality manpower in HQs etc. in a modern battlefield. The Infantry should have only two components i.e. the Light Infantry or the Mechanized Infantry. The remaining nomenclatures are just semantics. I visualize the anti-tank assets presently held with the LAT battalions be handed over to other infantry battalions of the formation thus augmenting their anti-tank resources. These units should be converted to light commando battalions on the pattern of US Rangers battalion in every division. Similarly the HAT elements if required to operate independently may be reorganized into independent companies to be attached with independent brigade groups.
f. Services. The large Army in waiting for a war in EME, S & T, and Medical units may be reduced. As an Independent Brigade Commander, I had almost 200 strong Infantry Workshop Company (EME) doing the job what 10-15 persons would be doing in the private sector. Similarly huge establishment of RV & FC needs new challenges in not becoming an unnecessary burden in this modern era. Most of their present tasks can be better performed by the private sector. Similarly, you may consider doing away with the ‘Ghori Paal Murabba’ and other such schemes, which are of no operational consequence and instrument of oppression for the allotted.
7. Balochistan: Quetta has the largest number of general officers in Pakistan after Rawalpindi. A senior officer is also a catalyst for development in his area as because of his seniority he can pull lots of developmental efforts in his direction. By sending the two GOCs to Loralai and Khuzdar and creating a ‘Mekran Military District’ at Turbat, the Balochistan problems will be addressed in a meaningful manner besides achieving much better interaction with local population.
8. Manpower Issues:
a. GHQ: It should be right sized, unnecessary officers and staff should be cut down to be employed the field areas. Over a period of time it has become a dumping place for officers wanting to settle down in Rawalpindi/Islamabad area. A lean and thin organization will always produce better results that a overstaffed one and at the same time not suffer from confusion created by too many officials.
b. The ISI: It also needs to be reduced to a size where quality and efficiency should be criteria for stay. It should not become a repository of officers waiting to serve in Islamabad & Rawalpindi.
c. Down Grading of Appointments: A large number of appointments were upgraded in last 10 years to appease senior officers. They should be brought down to a natural level.
9. Civil Armed Forces.
a. Deployment of CAF for IS duties: The CAF’s were taken out of their primary role of border surveillance and put on IS duties in Sindh. Additional troops were raised subsequently as the requirement kept on growing. Later their role in this field was extended in Punjab also. A large number of Army officers commanding troops in such roles have to do ‘public dealing’ like the police or magistracy for which they are neither trained nor required to do so. The recent cases in Karachi and Quetta are indicative of our own ill-preparedness for such roles. It is felt that with raising of additional ‘Elite Police Force’ the CAF’s can go back to their traditional role of guarding the Nation’s frontiers.
b. HQ CAF’s: There is no coordinating HQ for the CAF’s in Pakistan unlike the BSF in India. To have a uniform policy, guidelines and interaction with Ministry of Interior and GHQ the HQ CAF may be raised. It was under raising in 1977 with Major General Amir Hamza as the 1st Commander when the Martial Law was proclaimed by General Zia-ul-Haq. Both this HQ and FSF were disbanded.
c. Officers Deputation to CAFs: There should be 2 streams, 1st after 5 years of service in the Army followed by permanent absorption in CAF Cadre 2nd after approximately 17 years of service in Army for officers who do not make the grade in the Army but still have potential for a 2nd line service.
d. PAF/Navy Officers Induction to CAF: Regular officers of the other Services may also be given an option to serve in the CAFs. These Officers particularly with SSG training can act as value aided asset.
e. Deputation in ANF: The arrest of 2 Majors in Lahore for the murder of an under trial person is a clear indication of the Army’s unpreparedness for such roles. As I was the persons who raised the ANF Punjab, I am fully aware of the pitfalls these officers were exposed to and at one time even recommended either their permanent absorption in the ANF cadre or its handing over to the Police officers who are trained for such jobs. It may also be borne in mind that a large number of Army officers in ANF are exposed to dealing with foreigners (Drug Liaison Officers) on daily basis which needs to be avoided at all costs.
10. Federal Security Force (FSF): It was raised by the late Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in early seventies but was disbanded by the Martial Law regime of General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 being considered as forces countering the Army. Such a force maybe re-raised to take the burden of internal security from the Army and the CAF’s.
11. Training Institutions:
a. Joint Services Staff College: All Services Staff Colleges may be combined at Quetta. There is no justification for separate staff colleges particularly the Naval war College at Lahore.
b. Concentration of Training Institutions: Almost all Training Institutions are within 100 miles of Rawalpindi. Even the Baloch Regimental and EME Centres which were in Quetta were brought near Rawalpindi being nearer to an area from where most of the Officers Corps hailed. Some of the Training Institutions from heavily saturated Cantonments i.e. Abbottabad and Nowshera etc. should be moved to interior Sindh and Balochistan. This will ensure better interaction and economic growth for local population.
c. Training Centres: Finish off the recruit training at the Training Centers. This measure alone will liberate 6x Infantry Brigades, 1x Armour/Artillery/Engineer Brigades which is almost a Corps size strength locked in them. The ‘Record’ functions could go to the respective Directorates. The recruit training could be at the formation battle schools and the advance one at respective schools of instructions. Advanced countries like Germany and France cannot afford the luxury of the Training Centers.
12. Nation Building Role: Army should take pride in having a permanent role in nation building activities in inaccessible areas of Baluchistan, NWFP, Sindh, AK and Gilgit-Baltistan areas by earmarking at least one third of its elements like Engineers, Signals and EME etc. for this purpose. Besides FWO and NLC, even active formations’ elements may participate in such ventures. It is time it undertakes projects like the Gwadar Railway Link and Quetta-Zhob- DI Khan Railway Link Projects.
13. Cantonments Structure: We have allowed our Cantonments to become a mixture of civilian areas, semi military, military and unit areas. There is no security as civilian population and military personnel are living next to each other. This trend should finish, military garrisons should be military garrisons and nothing else.
14. Rationalization of Accommodation Army/Navy/PAF: In some of the cantonments particularly Karachi, the accommodation between the 3 Services is being shared in a most haphazard manner. There is a requirement to have clear Army, Navy or PAF areas. One suggestion is to move the Navy towardsKorangi and Saddar, the PAF may take over along Drig Road including Karsaz and Army could be east of Karsaz towards Malir.
15. NLC: It should be only in transportation of goods, all other aspects may be closed down. There is no need to duplicate functions of FWO e.g. road construction or infrastructure development. Only retired officers should be employed.
16. Fuji Foundation: A Board of Management composed of ex Chairmen JCSC with 3 ex Chiefs of Services should manage its affairs. Besides the services being provided in the medical, education, vocational training, it should gradually move away to manufacture of vehicles, arms, munitions & equipment required by the Armed Forces. The ‘Turkish Askari Foundation Model may be followed.
17. AWT/Bahria/Shaheen Foundations: 3 x ex Chiefs of respective services should govern their affairs with of Board of 3 to 4 senior most retired officers to assist them. They may be asked to move into manufacture of goods & items required by the respective service as the first priority.
18. DHAs: They should be placed under a senior PSO, e.g. Dy COAS. No serving officer should serve in them. The rules and regulations for any wrong doing by any one should be made very stringent so that these Institutions cannot be allowed to be used for any personal gains.
19. Militarization of Civilian Posts: Militarization of civilian posts i.e. DML&C (Director Military Lands & Cantts) and CMES (Commander Military Engineering Services) should stop as it has not improved anything. Instead cadre based officials should be selected on merit to give their best to the Defence Services.
20. Army Housing Schemes: Welfare projects like Army Housing Schemes may go to the Army Welfare Trust or Fauji Foundation, which could also act as a source of employment to the retired army personnel. The rank based housing/plot schemes should be finished. It has created more heart burning and polarization within the ranks of the Pak Army than be a source of welfare.
21. Human Resource Quality
a. MS Branch needs to open up and ensure more transparancy. Its working has created a lot of disgruntlement in our officers’ lot. It should adjust its attitude towards officers so that they are able to give their best till the last day of their service.
b. A survey may be taken of all Cols and above about how much time they have spent in and around 100 miles of Islamabad/Rawalpindi. They should all be posted out to the field commands.
c. At the lower ranks the usefulness of JCOs in Command appointments maybe re-examined. Whereas they could stay in administrative appointments, more NCOs could be directly commissioned to command platoon/troops at comparatively younger age (30 to 35 years maximum). This will have a blend of efficiency while keeping avenues open for promotion in the lower ranks.
- Officers Messes: The concept of officers’ mess maybe re-examined. We are trying to live a post-colonial life, which was by no means ours. The mess staff on the TO&E of units may be converted into more useful categories. All differences between the feeding of men and officers should finish particularly in the field.
- Ceremonial Guards: Should finish off except at the residence of the senior most General officer in a Military Garrison. There should be a ceiling on the total number of persons working in a Flag Staff House.
- Allotment of Plots/Agricultural Land: It should be done only after the retirement notice has been served or maximum 6 months before retirement. Only 1 plot per officer, remaining all through open ballot including commercial plots.
- Border Lands Committee: It had lost its purpose decades back, with 95 % of the border belt in private ownership it is just a tool of oppression for the hapless citizens who fell afoul of the prevailing system.
23. No one can deny that Reforms for Reorientation and Restructuring of Pak Army are required urgently in wake of the Abbottabad incident in particular. Any delay will further make it more difficult to carry on and the Pak Army will start losing its cutting edge along with moral standing in the Pakistani public which look towards it in their difficult moments of national survival.