Fault Lines in Military Ethical Prudence By Brigadier Narender Kumar

Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor had said, “The badge of rank that an officer wears on his coat is really a symbol of servitude to his men.” One of Alexander the Great’s leadership qualities was the ability to place his men first. He was great not only because he was good but because he believed that the service of men was his foremost responsibility. Today most of the serving officers, soldiers and veterans are pained to see grieving parents of Col Navjot Singh Bal, Shaurya Chakra, travelling more than 2000 kilometres to bid farewell to their solider son who incidentally was a highly decorated officer of the Indian Army. The condolences that poured on the untimely demise of Col Navjot Singh Bal is a testimony of his soldierly qualities and how he was respected by men and officers even those who did not know him. They know well that for him winning took precedence over all, there were no grey areas. “None Almost”!

What surprised me was that the military leadership of the fourth largest Army in the world could not give sanction for airlift to the grieving parents from Delhi to Bangalore, because the military bureaucracy did not want a precedence to start. In fact all traditions, ethos and comradery that is displayed by men and officers in peace and war is a precedence that was set up by those who were ahead of us. Never leave a fallen or wounded soldier behind in war is a precedence that was started by field commanders’ centuries earlier and is being followed even now. Was it not a precedence set by Major Shaitan Singh when he and his men ignored the option to withdraw from their position in Rezangla and preferred to fight last man last round and 114 men laid down their lives while defending Rezangla. Was surgical strikes not a precedence set by these young men when they crossed into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) to strike at the terror camps? I am afraid that current military leadership want men and young officers to set new precedence of gallantry but withdraw themselves when it comes to set precedence for an insignificant administrative mundane action with no threat to life or limbs.

Let me quote two of my personal examples how military leadership of my growing up time in the army often trashed military bureaucracy and paid scanty respect to the rules that prevented them to take actions for the welfare of men under their command. I was a young captain posted as Instructor in High Altitude Warfare School in 1991. I was scheduled to get married on January 18, 1991 and due to unprecedented snowfall the flights were cancelled and road was blocked. I could not even move down from Gulmarg to Srinagar since road was blocked. Only four/ five days were left for my marriage and Mrs Persis Bulsara wife of (late) Brig FFC Bulsara asked me during the lunch time may be 13/14 January, “Narender when are you leaving for your marriage”? I replied Madam, “I don’t think I will be able to reach home in time so I will ask my parents to postpone the marriage”. She literally gave a dressing down to the Commandant (Late) Brig FFC Bulsara for not doing anything to ensure that I reach home in time for my marriage. Same day Brig Bulsara spoke to the AOC at Agra and requested him to do something and drop me at Chandigarh or Delhi or Jammu. Well next day an air force helicopter came to pick me up from Gulmarg to Srinagar and another helicopter was waiting at Srinagar to drop me at Jammu.

The second incident was when I was commanding my unit in Jammu & Kashmir. One of our comrade had laid down his life while I was the Commanding Officer of a Rashtriya Rifle Unit in J&K. His family was staying in separated family quarters at Jammu. His in laws had come to stay with their daughter. The family desired that the mortal remains be taken to his ancestral place in Chennai. Apart from his wife and child, his in laws had to be sent with the mortal remains. When I was told that his in-laws were at Jammu with their daughter, without even blinking my eyelids, I asked the officer who was arranging air transportation of mortal remains that ticket for entire family including that of his in-laws be bought and they be put on the same aircraft. As per army regulations there is no provision for payment of air travel for in-laws. We set this precedence and it was followed by my successors whenever there was any such case. The regiment paid for the air travels. One may argue that the in both above cases rules were compromised, but then so be it. That’s why we are soldiers, else there won’t be much difference between us and coded algorithms. It was also a question of setting precedence, but I thought this is least we could do for a fallen comrade.

All wars are won by great soldiers by setting precedence of extraordinary actions in the face of enemy for others to follow. My question to military leaders is that, if you expect these young officers to disobey conventions, set precedence of unparalleled bravery, are you not responsible to also set new precedence when it comes to standing for the men and their families. The rank badges you wear are not to make you slave of rules, but to keep it aside when you are required to stand for your men for ethical use of authority. There are numerous examples in history when precedence was set against the rules. We are the ones who make the rules; we are the ones who have to find the humane fine print between the lines. Your rank on your sleeves is given so that you have the power to read that fine print and take a decisions and stand by it. If you can’t – who will!

I am sad to say that military leadership has failed Col NS Bal, SC, in his death and set a precedence for future military generals to hide behind rules for not standing with the grieving families of soldiers. It is a precedence that has shown that military leadership of today is slave of rules and fear taking decision on such mundane issues. The military leaders must remember that wars are not fought by rules, wars are won by those generals who throw rules to the wind and disobey every convention.

Least the CDS, generals and marshals could have done is to give a ride to the old grieving parents to Bengaluru and not add agony to the grief by keeping them on road at this age for 3 days. It is unprecedented time, the old parents would have never asked for this small act of kindness from the organisation, had flights been operating. In fact military leadership is known for rising under such extraordinary situations. It would have been even a great cause for a general/ marshal to get sacked for doing this small act of kindness to a hero of this army. I am not judging, but we need to introspect that should military leaders set precedence for good cause or set precedence of being a slave to the rule books. Military Decisions can never be taken based on algorithms, Col NS Bal ,SC went beyond all textbook tactics to achieve his team objectives, I am afraid his leadership failed him and his parents when the time was right to reciprocate.

The time has come for the Generals to ponder on what Victor Hugo, a French poet, once said, “In history where goodness is a rare pearl, he who was good almost takes precedence over he who was great”

Rest in Peace Col Navot Singh Bal, Shaurya Chakra

Brig Narender Kumar is a Distinguished Fellow at Centre For Strategic Studies and Simulation United Service Institution of India New Delhi-110057 Twitter- @narry13

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32 thoughts on “Fault Lines in Military Ethical Prudence By Brigadier Narender Kumar

  1. Sir,
    You have aptly captured the thoughts and sentiments of many serving and veteran soldiers on the recent unfortunate turn of events surrounding the last rites of Col. Navjot Bal, SC.
    However, I put forth following points for your consideration.
    1. I am sure you are aware as to what it takes these days to reach the hallowed flag staff ranks. Majority are conformists, opportunistic and careerist men who masquerade as leaders. Even if any good man manage to get into this circle, the “system” quickly hounds them out and no I am NOT talking about politics or bureaucracy, I am referring to our own system.

    2. It has off late become fashionable among veteran community to whine about current scenario and fondly reminiscent how things were different in “their” times. You are wrong Sir. Honourable, good and emphatic soldiers are still around, just look at the way they came around to arrange the logistics and how everyone went out the way to make sure, the old parents of late Col.Bal is not put to further inconveniences.
    It’s just that they are completely overshadowed by the servile and incompetent flag ranks that have taken over our military leadership.
    3. No government in India, current or past are interested in military matters. Remember, India is perhaps the only democracy of this size where the military is actually under bureaucratic control and NOT under elected political leadership.
    Our politicians live with the advise of self serving bureaucrats in MoD to make startegic decisions. Now, we have senior military officers who have sold themselves out enmasse to this coterie for self preservation and think they have a place at the table with babus. Alas, they are so wrong and naive.
    4. Remember the famous case where a CNS resigned over the sad state of equipment in his service. The government promptly found the next compliant ” admiral” and put him in chair. Never mind the fact that he had never commanded an operational command of IN.
    The current government installed the most compliant ” Chief” superseding two competent generals on laughable grounds.

    There are no easy solutions to the problems that Indian Armed forces face today.
    But I do look forward to a day where we at least start promoting competence, ethics and loyalty to the organisation, to our future leaders, maybe from staff college levels. I think that is one of starting points where cuurent officer corps is learning to become politicians than military leaders.

    Until then let’s spare the moral outrage and keep doing our bit to many unknown Navjots that this great Army continues to produce.

    PS: I grew up in Army and proudly served for 5 years and I wouldn’t have traded that for anything and god willing will do the same if I get another chance.

  2. As recd from authentic qrs
    Cherrypicking facts to further an agenda is easy, especially when you know that the ‘person’ you’re hitting at is an organisation you were once part of. It helps if the organisation is bound to not respond.

    Hidden in the avalanche of machismo and bravado over the Army’s response (or perceived lack of it) over the air transportation of Late Col NS Bal’s parents from New Delhi to Bangalore is the plain truth. It’s so simple that if stated forthrightly, it takes the wind out of all ‘complaints’ and needless crying over cliched idioms – of no man left behind, of deteriorating leadership qualities in the army.

    The facts first – it may seem shocking but Col Bal’s mortal remains were offered to be flown from Bengaluru to Delhi by an IAF flight along with family where an official ceremony befitting his rank and stature was planned to be organised. This was refused by the officer’s wife and thus parents and brother had to travel to Bengaluru to attend the ceremony in Son’s unit. One must respect their wishes.

    Even in ordinary times, every battle casualty is evacuated and given top most medical care and attention. No man is ever left behind. Mortal remains of all fallen soldiers are carried by air and given befitting farewells at various stations. No man is left behind. Aviation and airforce staff put their own and their crew’s lives on line, braving blizzards and bullets but bring back their own. Remember Hanmanthappa. No.Man.Is.Left.Behind.

    The army as a matter of routine takes care of families of soldiers and officers, moving them by helicopters and aircraft. If its own resources are not available, it pays for their movement by civilian airlines. Even pregnant local women, foreigners and civilians in distress are routinely rescued and evacuated, at times along with senior officers. Decisions like these are taken daily as a norm and are part of routine decision making in today’s organisation. Fortunately the senior leadership does not believe in promoting itself due to an ethos of silent service.

    These are extraordinary times. The entire nation is fighting an uphill battle. In times like these, when even the greatest and mightiest nations have had to kowtow to a microorganism, the entire might of our country is focused on reducing the number of dead. These dead, mere figures on the screen, will soon devour lives of even our own soldiers and their families if timely medical equipment and supplies are not made available in remote areas and to our countrymen. Thats why we have to be extra vigilant but proactive at the same time. Call us the first line or last line of defence, if we don’t step up, there very well might not be a line to stand. The Indian army has to and must lead the way for a fightback, and set example of highest standard.

    Would the sad commentators not acknowledge the fact that next very day a soldiers mortal remains were transported by army helicopters and then on by IAF aircraft from a remote location in East to somewhere in Maharashtra wherein his wife in East could not eve. travel being pregnant. Would this furore be same if the affected was a soldier. And what about scores of such request pending with the Home Ministry being turned down. In the instant event the mature veterans wanting to compel organization to make an exception through a media blitzkrieg failed, used death of brave soldier yo push an agenda and also cast a shadow on maturity of an organization where they once served.

    The armed forces have been involved in creating quarantine facilities for evacuees, reinforcing the medical infrastructure in the country, conducting awareness campaigns, ferrying medical supplies and equipment across the country and to neighbouring countries. All this has put a major strain on the military infrastructure. All other means of transportation have been stopped to prevent the spread of the virus. Sacrifices have to be made and no one would have understood it better than a Special Forces officer. In these times of great divides deepened by social media, it had to take a decision knowing fully well that they will be eternally castigated by veterans while getting mercilessly ‘trolled’ by senseless bots.

    We expect regal treatment for ourselves when a majority of the country is in the midst of a massive upheaval. Millions have lost their livelihood, have no access to food or shelter, yet we write from the comfort of our homes about the lack of leadership in the forces. The leadership is unfortunately in the unenviable position of choosing between the devil and the deep sea. Between the self and the nation-collective, the self must always give way. A correct decision was taken and people with lesser guts cannot see it.

  3. I do not agree with Brig Narinder Kumar. Just one question to all who are writing in favour of providing ac to NOK. In this time of less than two months…armed forces would have seen many death of serving soldiers. Could the hierarchy provide ac to all d NOK. Not only this many of the soldiers fly at Far flungxareas are losing their loved ones on daily basis and they are not able to reach for the last rights. Can the Armed forces provide actors all….I am sure ANSWER WOULD BE NO….kindly think again. Agreed it was a difficult to take decision. Can we say the ac be provided to Awardees again upto what level. It is very easy to blame the leadership but difficult to decide…..I agree with Ram Kumars sentiments….
    Emotionally…yes they should have been airlifted. But can fauj be run on emotions. For a second…let’s pause and turn the table and dawn the role of decision maker…Mortal remains have always been flown all around the country and families too if accompanying … Now comes the question of airlifting only the next of kin…fine it could have also been done…but will it be possible to provide the same facility for one and all…to fly next of kin all around the country..specially the lesser privileged ….who may always go unnoticed…even during the lockdown period..many many more would have faced such problem…if we can …then surely everyone should …but can we pull out all the ac from ops and undertake such airlifts…practically impossible…under such circumstances…I think it was the apt decision..and positioning IAF in bad light is the most inappropriate thing..ok fine the ac was not provided…but what were the greens doing…why couldn’t they provide one of their staff car with the MTD right from Delhi…nobody seems to be talking about that…Look inwards..brig sab….RIP Col Bal🙏

  4. 1. All actions by an officer, always fall within ambit of LAW, provided decsion cum action by said officer, is for good of others on extreme compassionate ground, & surely not having any lineage of personal gain explicitly or implicitly.

    2. Rules must be respected, but in exceptional cases as that of above, Senior Officers should have utilised full Administrative cum Financial to ensure that such a SHAMEFUL INSTANCE, must find basis to take shape as witnessed by all of us helplessly.

    JAI HIND

  5. I agree with the views of the author. The point is that setting a precedence should have been the last thing that the organization should have been worried about. I also feel that the rivalry between IA, IAF and MoD couldn’t have been the cause either.
    Main cause has been lack of guts, compassion and ideas at the higher echelons to find a way out. The easiest way out of a tight situation is to throw the rule book at the helpless. That is what has happened here.
    Like a dear friend of mine Lt Gen Ravi Swamy used to say, ” We have lot of Generals but most lack Generalship”.
    Rest in peace, bravest of the brave, Col NS Bal, SC.

  6. Emotionally…yes they should have been airlifted. But can fauj be run on emotions. For a second…let’s pause and turn the table and dawn the role of decision maker…Mortal remains have always been flown all around the country and families too if accompanying … Now comes the question of airlifting only the next of kin…fine it could have also been done…but will it be possible to provide the same facility for one and all…to fly next of kin all around the country..specially the lesser privileged ….who may always go unnoticed…even during the lockdown period..many many more would have faced such problem…if we can …then surely everyone should …but can we pull out all the ac from ops and undertake such airlifts…practically impossible…under such circumstances…I think it was the apt decision..and positioning IAF in bad light is the most inappropriate thing..ok fine the ac was not provided…but what were the greens doing…why couldn’t they provide one of their staff car with the MTD right from Delhi…nobody seems to be talking about that…Look inwards..brig sab….RIP Col Bal🙏

    1. You seem to be a pure paper tiger. It is beyond your comprehension level to understand and digest unconventional operations and the price we pay for it…

  7. Excellent assessment of setting precedent Sir. Same attitude has settled in Bn Cdrs now. People are happy to see a decisive leadership at Centre even when certain steps were not in favour of Armed Forces. But get demoralised when dont get solutions from hierarchy

  8. It’s time & crisis like these when young offrs & men expect their superiors to deliver. In normal conditions I am sure parents ( Father) of late Col. Navjot Bal, SC, who also incidentally is a veteran would have taken the flight to be there for the last rites.
    The Services are called to look after the civilians in crisis, why can’t they look after their own & that too for the last journey ?
    The hierarchy must be sensitive to rise to the occasion. Even if it is amounting to setting a precedence for such an occasion, than to lose that opportunity under the garb of rules.
    Salute to the family.
    Love & Blessings to the braveheart.

  9. I appreciate the boldness of bringing out not only shameless but disgraceful failure of military leadership in providing an airlift to the parents to perform last rights of their son who made ultimate sacrifice for the nation during lockdown
    Thousands of times Army ,Navy and Air Force flying machines hv been used to airlift civilians during calamities wether natural or manmade .
    COAS failed to seek help / requisite air lift as this was also a calamity. If at all any audit objection was raised it could hv been sorted out . Unfortunately military leadership has become so weak that any babu or politician can kick them and deny them their rights and authority.

  10. I am in agreement with Brig Narender.One should understand that RULES are only guideline considering favourable conditions.Its is for the leaders to apply these rules as per the Sitution demand.For that purpose the have been given the authority and power to amend the rules till such time they can justify and it is interest of the organization. In present case ,an heli lift would not only help the veteran father administratively, but would have raised confidence amongst the subordinates that so called fatherly figure takes care not only while I am In uniform and alive ,but even after my death.That is reason the youngster having confidence that such support will be taken care leads workout even giving a second thought of his personal life and life there after.The leadership at the helms were youngster and were of same opinion however as they grew in the service,they have become senior but not natured Mich needs to done by them for others to follow.They incl CDS is setting precedence for their myopic vested interest.which is not good for any Army.Dual system of ACR is the order of the day when a youngster also writes an ACR of his CO.But such reforms will never be accepted
    Kapurthala

  11. For the sake of morale of our Armed Forces as also for the cause of Future defence of our country at the borders & within, a very well written narrative. Felicitations to you Brig Narender Kumar. Peace to the departed soul.

  12. I fully agree with views of the author. In fact, you can’t be promoted beyond COL unless you are shit scared of your bosses, atleast pretend to be and are total conformist. Similarly, look at the views of M/s Pasricha, Arun Prakash and ilks when Capt Crozier was removed from command for lack of alacrity when the crew was afflicted by Covid! These Admirald wanted chain of command to be followed. What could be more hollow thinking for conduct of non-linear battles? We are set of cowards in the hierarchy.

  13. Well said, as always, Narender. Really felt ashamed that day about our leadership. But now that CDS is part of MOD, could he have not done it, even officially?

  14. What moves the soldier in me, is the spirit of the veteran father, in deciding to have the last rites at Bangaluru. I am not privy to the mind of Lt Col Bal, but my soldierly sense tells me that the veteran wanted his son to be there with his family of 20 odd yrs; the Paltan, till he turns into ashes. He could have asked the Army to have the mortal remains flown and organise the ceremonial at Delhi. But, he wanted it done in/with the Paltan. His decision brought him physical and mental pain of the travel but he would alwaz be in peace with himself, for not having taken the easier option.
    A big salute to the Good Old Time Soldier.

    1. When you put on the First pip on your shoulde r you become a part of army and a warrior for the nation
      Though your family may own you biologically

  15. Very well articulated and put forth views. We require Generals in true sense. Leaders who
    can take decision s for the troops they Command. Their staff also is responsible for advising them correctly. On the verge of my retirement I came to know that my residence address was not updated by MP Dte and I had to get it counter signed by a Lt Gen. My application was not counter signed by a Lt Gen inspite of all supplying documents both at M& G Area and Artrac. Finally during. the retirement Seminar I requested a personal friend Lt Gen at AHQ ad and he immediately counter signed the application.
    Therefore we actually require Generals and NOT clerks at the top level.

  16. I fullly agree with what you say. It is a matter of SHAME. I am 100% sure that this does not happen in any other country who respect their soldiers and the leaders who care for the people under them and not always busy in serving their own interest at any cost.
    DISGRACE

  17. Sir. In the past two-Three years it’s just been that solitary Corps Cdr (A sikh gentleman) who stood up for his CO in some dist adm fracas in NE. Barring this the whole military top leadership looks like a Banana Republic currently unfortunately .

  18. Increasingly, the military is being governed by bureaucratic military leaders. After all the last post is that of a secretary. I agred with the Author . Our top brass just caved in

  19. Remember what Chanakya said centuries ago ‘That kingdom is doomed which does not respect its soldiers’ Here I offer no comments….

  20. Excellent expression of right Thoughts n sane Advice by Veteran Brig Narender Kumar, to the present Military Leadership, if they wish to be relevent & expect Younger Generation in Services to Excel in hours of National need/ Call n put their life on blade, when time comes ! Surely not, if such exemples like the one meted out to the ageing Veteran parents of legendary late Col Bal, highly decorated n a loved Officer of Special Forces read 2 PARA, for his intrinsic Values n Leadership Qualities, which are so very rare but so dear to the entire Command Structure to win Battles n come out unscathed from perilous Situations in future too !
    Hope Brig Narender’s sentiments do reach the intended quarters n they rationally re-visit their decisions & not repeat in future, if they wish to Command genuine respect otherwise No one, repeat, No one, will be with them once they leave the exalted Chair of position.

  21. Very well brought out Brigadier Narender. We need to introspect. We had one Instr during our SC who very rightly used to say that the rules and SOPs are made by officers for giving guidelines to the subordinates to follow. These are not meant to make us slaves to them. After all some officer would have applied his mind in drafting these, which does not make them carved in stone. As officers we are to apply our minds and act in good faith. We were also told as youngsters by our COs that in fauj anything done with good intentions without your self interest would never put you in trouble. I have lived upto that maxim and till date found it true. Although nowadays lately, life has exposed me to some people who hide behind the rules and misuse the same for creating obstructions. Must be a similar staff officer in the chain who was able to block the well intentioned orders to transport the deceased’s parents in mil ac. It was then that the real commanders should have overruled…sad indeed.

  22. A very well written article . I am from 12 Mech Inf ( 8 Para -16 Mahar ). Brig FFC Bulsara was from my unit 8 Para. A very fine gentlemen , tough at task but good at heart. Mrs Persis Bulsara is also a very kind hearted lady who can move things . We have experienced them in our unit. The case in point should have been dealt at AG’s level . AWWA has now set a precedent to seriously look after the families incl parents of serving soldiers / Veterans . This should include move of families / dependants by air for medical or last rites

  23. I do not know if the imbroglio occurred due to poor leadership at the higher level of the Armed Forces or due to prevailing poor inter service relationship between the MoD, the Army and the Air Force. Such incidents have been taking place fairly frequently in recent years, though things were not as bad, say two decades back. Quoting my own personal example, I lost my father in May 1992 in a road accident at Ojhar near Nashik (Maharashtra). I had left with my unit in a special military train from J&K for Tinsukhia (Assam) barely 24 hours before the tragic incident. My brother-in-law, an Air Force Officer, had transited through Ojhar in an Air Force aircraft in the morning and had met my father in the morning before his demise. In the afternoon, his aircraft went to Chandigarh from where it was to go to Jodhpur and onwards to Sulur (Tamilnadu). On getting the news of my father’s demise at night, he requested the aircraft to be diverted back to Ojhar instead of Jodhpur, so that he could attend my father’s last rites. The permission was granted before first light in the morning and he was taken to Ojhar from Chandigarh for the purpose. I am sure no MoD official was working at midnight to accord the permission. Whoever was vested with the power to permit the diversion was contacted at night over the telephone and a verbal sanction was accorded and honoured. I got the news of my father’s death after five days after our train reached Siliguri(West Bengal) from where it took me another two days to reach home. Due to compassion shown by the Air Force hierarchy, my brother-in-law took care of my family during my absence. Similar compassion and respect for each other was missing when I was posted in the Army HQ in the year 2007 and was dealing with Inter-service matters, by which time the rivalry between the Army and the Air Force had grown exponentially. The MoD has now joined the bandwagon to exploit this rivalry and make matters worse. We need very strong and selfless leaders and officers to stem this rot, failing which worst incidents of this nature would be on display.

    1. Its we who are to be blamed . The command ( the tps and offrs under the Cdr )should not let the Cdr grow up in case he is weak kneed and found wanting in military leadership credo of service before self. Let that kind of cdr be thrown aside by the Comd itself .Rather then let him move up .
      Now there are uniformed pers in the garb of babus who are performing the dirty jobs which the civ babus used to do . The things have not improved even after carving out of Dept of Mil Affairs . I am shocked as what was Secy ( CDS), VCDS, Addl secy ( Lt Gen ), JS Air ( an AVM ) doing in DMA. They have failed their Comd and in their duty.
      Its should be known to every one that it was the last wish of the brave heart to be cremated by his colleagues in the Unit of which he was a Cdr. Thats why his old parents did not agree for his last rites to be done in Delhi . The last wish of even a criminal to be hanged is fulfilled . But , here in India who cares for the armed forces . They are the fodder for getting to power and to be used to lay Yoga mats and lay bridges for fake babas to perform functions on Yamuna bank in Delhi .
      RIP the braveheart.
      Gauba

  24. Was a sanction sought and denied ? Given the exceptional circumstances prevailing , I would be surprised if that was the case.

  25. Least said the better, about our leadership, these days. We should all hang our heads in shame for what was meted out to a distinguished comrade & his parents.

  26. Very well written Sir. You have hit the nail on the head. I have also taken many decisions against the rules in my life and now I am a happy Colonel.

  27. A glaring example of utter deterioration of military ethical behavior sacrificed at the altar of bureaucratic insolence. Few men of character, grit, moral courage, empathy and spiritual strength rise in the hierarchy, thus vitiating the culture of higher leadership. Standing up for the soldier would not guarantee higher rank or position, so it doesn’t matter, it seems.

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