This is the life we all have
lived . You can't beat Army ( any where and any time ) for its bullshit and ingenuity. And, lest we forget, the writer has a way with his words!.
One of my B
ommanders wrote a very interesting piece. I am sure you will like it.
Begin forwarded message:
ARMY OF INSPECTIONS
The Divisional Commander was conducting his annual inspection of our brigade headquarters.
The ‘Camp’ had been cleaning their floors and vehicles for days, and the Brigade Staff had been busy wrapping our records, cooking up data, back dating and signing inspection sheets on registers, destroying obsolete files, and above all trying to keep themselves fit for the 2 mile BPET run.
On the day of inspection, the general marched into our commander’s office sat down on the low cushioned seat for the briefing. Once the waiter had done the formalities of tea, chicken sandwich, and roasted nuts, the general started.
“I hope none of your units are selling stuff to civilians from the CSD canteen,” GOC’s tone was more seeking an reassurance, rather than one of ‘I know what you did last summer.’
Even if they did sell, any good commander would have confidently and emphatically said ‘NO, Sir.’
My undiplomatic one shot back “You are asking me? Your Divisional Troops are the ones doing it. My Brigade Major can show you the details.” While some staff officers were pushing their eyeballs back into their socket, others were cleaning their ears with their little finger to confirm if the ‘quote’ was from Ripley.
The security posts on the exits of the cantonment were all manned by soldiers from our brigade’s units. The sentries had been ordered to record the bills of CSD goods leaving the cantonment. The seven composition notebooks from the seven gates were promptly shown to a GOC. His face turned from orange to red to crimson in an instant like a damsel’s bare butt on Miami’s South Beach on a hot sunny day.
He got up dusting the sandwich crumbs on his uniform “I think I will need to take care of this issue first. The inspection is over.”
We didn’t know whether to smile or weep!
If ever there was one event that brought the most humour in any Army Unit, it is none other than the ‘inspections.’
A soldier, his weapon, and his unit, go through a gazillion inspections during his term in the army. After a few weeks, almost every soldier gets used this back breaking exercise, which always comes with some laughs thrown in.
Though, you tend to suffer when you are in the thick of it, it always is fun to look back and smile. It is more fun to see a group of unfortunate suckers being inspected by a lucky boss, and you are out by a safe distance. In every inspecting officer, there is always a thread of sadism, intellectual snobbery, superiority complex, and in some cases thirst for revenge. Some show it off, and some are subtle.
Most army officers are like the blind men who went to ‘see’ the elephant. A lot of us stop reading any printed material after the ‘hectic’ JC Course. The guys who manage ‘PCK’, manage avoid reading printed stuff even at Mhow. Some book worms continue to read the ‘essentials’ till the Staff College entrance examination. That is the time our learning from reading peaks.
Thereafter we tend to think our bookshelf and the black wooden box containing the precis, are ‘external hard drives’ of our brain. Our concepts of excellence and professionalism are stratified quite early in life. In every inspection, every commander seems to be seeking the one or two issues that he considers is essential for the unit to be ‘fit for war’.
Some commanders behave like ‘troops kitchen commanders’ and believe that 'Warcraft' is all about baking chapattis on the thickest griddle, and serving the thickest curry to troops. Some commanders are a little more polished, and act like ‘Officer Mess Sergeants’ who are picky about the silverware, dining cloth, and the ‘oiliness’ of French Fries and samosas served.
For some physically fit commanders, inspections are all about the 2 mile battle proficiency run. For a few, it was all about accounting, while others are constantly searching for junk stores, saved rations and dust.
The truth seems to elude them, as it did for Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, Nanak and Anna Hazare.
Decades ago, I came across this eccentric commander with a German sounding name in Punjab. He was scheduled to inspect the Mortar Battery in his brigade on a particular day. To the ill luck of this Battery, a week earlier, its officers had a ‘celebration’ in a local hotel, and got into a scuffle, like in any bars near a military station. They had sullied the image of an honorable organization, and of a commander, wanting to become a two star general.
The Battery was up even before the ‘kook
kads’ of Punjab, and were ready for the ‘inspection’ at 0800 hours on the fateful day. The Commander was nowhere ‘on site’ or ‘in sight’. It appeared the trackers with radio sets posted on every mile behind some cover, had all gone silent. Around 1000 hours, the CO picked up both courage and telephone to check if the commander had forgotten, or had a heart attack, or something. After all, troops were waiting, and the snacks were getting cold.
“I am the inspecting officer. I will come at my convenience,” was the ‘courteous’ reply.
The officers and men stood waiting for the inspecting officer who could arrive anytime, like a mother-in-law whose Greyhound bus was held up in traffic on a New Jersey road closed by Governor Chris Christie.
The tea time passed, lunch time passed, afternoon tea passed, and even the dinner time was past. The Commander landed up at 2200 hours (yes, you read it right …at 10 PM).
“Switch off all electric lights. I want to see how well you are prepared for a blackout that precedes any war,” he commanded.
The lever on the transformer that supplied electricity to the whole Fort came down. ‘Poof’ went the lights, and out came all possible flash lights, lantern, petromaxes, candles, and even the improvised lamps the sentries used for sealing locks in the Quarter Guard. The Fort looked more like a medieval castle preparing for battle with Oliver Cromwell.
The first place the commander marched into was the ‘Technical Store’ that stored the prismatic compasses, binoculars, and other technical stuff that were supposed stay dry. He picked up a bag of ‘silica gel’ placed for absorbing moisture from the instruments, and asked for a knife.
One of the technical assistants flashed a blue ‘Prince’ blade that had outlived its shaving capability, and was retained for sharpening pencils. The commander grabbed the blade, and cut the silica gel bag, pointed at the crystals flowing out of the crack like diamonds from a UN Peacekeeper’s backpack, and yelled, “Have you seen this?”
How could any of those suckers have seen ‘that’, when ‘it’ came sealed in the cotton or muslin bags from Army Ordinance? Even the reader with 20/20 sight would not, if he had waited for 20 hours in #1 uniform the whole day, with no food or drink, in the near dark environment the furious commander had invoked.
There was a pin drop silence at the almost midnight hour. One could only hear the hoots of owls of Gobindgarh Fort.
“Yellow,” like a FIFA referee who had caught an erring footballer, the commander shouted. He threw the silica gel bag with the left over crystals with force at the Technical Assistant Sergeant as if he was stoning an adulterous woman in a country that was less than 30 miles away.
The other officers and men in the store and on the doorway effectively used the screen of darkness. The German’s shout was more powerful than the silica gel crystals that flew like ball bearings off a claymore mine.
“Your unit is not ready for my inspection,” he declared.
“Let me know when your unit is ready; I shall come back again,” he got into his black staff car like Douglas Macarthur leaving Corregidor.
In the following few weeks, he inspected the miserable unit three or four times, in similar fashion and at similar hours.
The mortar battery would have gladly fired a salvo on the brigade headquarters; but then their range was pretty limited, I presume.
The day the rascal commander was posted out, the Battery had a bara khana, a big meal or feast.
Guys who have served in mountain areas more than 10K feet above MSL would appreciate the menace of yaks. These animals have limited grazing grounds, and forage for food inside military lines too. Ignorant they are, they often defecate even near the ‘officers messes’ and ‘quarter guards.’ It is not possible to explain them that army camps already had enough bullshit, anyway.
It was inspection time in our unit.
“I do not want to see a single yak within 3 mile perimeter of the unit lines,” the worried CO told us in the preparatory meeting.
The regimental police section was augmented to extra strength, and pickets were posted in every possible entry route of these hairy beasts. Since the rehearsals started almost a week earlier, the approaching yaks were fended off by the stick wielding regimental police.
The whole camp looked clean, spic and span, sans the filthy yaks.
On the day of the inspection, the commander landed around noon. To our surprise his wife and children also accompanied him. For most of us it came as a happy surprise, for commanders tend to be a little casual and relaxed when their spouses are around. Also, since most uniformed men are generally henpecked, the lady’s program normally superseded the inspection program.
“These guys are visiting from Delhi. They wanted to see some yaks. So I brought them along,” he was all smiles.
Our jaws and testicles dropped at that very instant.
The regimental police sergeant was sent to pull back the posted sentries immediately. Like amorous guys whose wives reported of headaches every night, the yaks that had come knocking the doors in the morning, seeing the red arm banded sentries, had all retreated to safer pastures for the day. They too after all were Hinayana Buddhists, and had their dignity and pride.
The Regimental police were told to go in search of these absconding animals, and bring them for viewing by the commander’s children. It was difficult to explain the reason of contradictory orders to the baffled sentries. It was more difficult to say 'sorry' to the creatures that were turned away for a fortnight, and request them to come in immediately. They are no American girl friends anyway. Knowing our predicament it appeared the hairy rascals were playing hide and seek with our desperate sentries.
It was around four in the afternoon when one sentry managed to bring an animal to the unit. Pictures were taken alongside her, and our inspection was brought to a close.
I am sure the picture must be on the mantle of my commander’s home, with the pictured folk blissfully unaware of our state that day.
In preparation for most inspections, all army units resort to painting everything that moved, and applying a ‘red sand coating’ to anything that didn’t. Like we spread mulch around tree trunks here, Indian army units have a tendency to colour up the trunks of trees.
A friend of mine was the aide-De-camp to a general who was inspecting a unit. Even though everything looked good, nothing went right. The general was badly upset and screaming during the whole event.
When the general and ADC were leaving the unit, the general pointed to a tree trunk with red colour on it just next to the entry/exit gate and said, “That frigging tree got me upset, otherwise the unit is in good shape”!
Sun Tzu certainly could have said "The trick to a successful inspection............. know your enemy…the inspecting officer!!!"
If you believed that a Pope’s penis and man’s tits were the most useless things on earth, you haven’t seen the lineup of generators in Artillery and Signal regiments. They come in all shapes and sizes………………… 150W, 500W, 2.5KW ….and so on. These are meant to be used for charging radio batteries in remote posts. Most of them did not have electric start, and would need to start with a tugging rope. Adulterated gasoline, pathetic filters, rust, dirty sparking plugs, and long periods of stowaway, ensured they seldom started even with 20 pulls. That should explain the heavy hands and handedness of most Signal Sergeants. Even the ones that started seldom produced the voltage need for charging. They made more sound and smoke, than electricity. They would shiver and jump around like a naked man thrown inside an ice skating rink in the middle of winter in Siberia.
One of our commanders was extremely fond of these generators. Every unit he visited, he wanted these state of art noise makers to be laid out in a line, and started. Like Yehudi Menuhin conducting the philharmonic orchestra, he would admire and enjoy the strange music the scores of these whole body vibrators made. It was pure nightmare for the Signal sergeants to make sure all these machines start, especially at the most crucial hour.
The commander noticed that our signal sergeant was holding down one generator, his whole body shaking. he looked like a floor marshal of Indian parliament trying to restrain and over power a Seemandh
ara member, protesting against Tel
angana. It was apparent that this generator was a ‘jumper’ who would shake out of the lineup. However, since the generator produced much less smoke as compared to the others, the commander left happy that his flock was battle worthy.
Later we learnt that the erring generator never started, and the Signal Sergeant was masquerading as if it was.
And you thought only women faked orgasms dude