History often romanticizes the valor and bravery of Kings, Conquers and Generals, more often than not, portraying them as ‘men, who lead from the front’. We in turn tend to absorb and get mesmerized by this fictitious portrayal of guts, daring, fearlessness and glory.
The truth, in reality is far from this magnums portrayal. History, over centuries and decades has been written by loyalist of the crown, much bowed to the mercy and whims of the kings and conquers, never daring to upset the crown, ever willing to twist reality into a tale that satisfies their master’s ego and their lust for fame.
Be it from the time of the Roman Empire when Julius Cesar was at the helm of the senate, his most notable battles ‘The Gallic Wars’, wherein these battles were a series of military campaigns waged by the Roman proconsul, against several Gallic tribes. Rome’s war against the Gallic tribes lasted from 58 BC to 50 BC and culminated in the decisive ‘Battle of Alesia’ in 52 BC, in which a complete Roman victory resulted in the expansion of the Roman Republic over the whole of Gaul (mainly present- day France and Belgium).
However, the humongous success of these battles was not because Cesar himself picked up arms, but because Cesar and his military Generals were brilliant strategists, and knew how to deploy and allocate their military resources to the maximum effect.
Even ‘Alexander, the Great’ who is attributed to have killed thousands of men, could not have single handedly been the executioner. He was commanding an army that at a point was in in excess 30,000 men (329 BC) that kept growing as his conquest progressed.
However, it always has been not only fashionable, but to great extent exotic, to portray the ‘supreme commander’ of an army, leading the charge from front.
Jumping centuries in time, and coming to the modern era of warfare, it is unimaginable even to think of any of the great modern time commanders picking up a gun and running against a battery of enemy soldiers.
Modern commanders are not foot soldiers, they are thinkers, strategist and planners. Who have the capacity to maximize available resources, who have the vision and foresight to formulate contingency plans in an ever dynamic battle situation.
These men are not only thinkers, but are agile and flexible in their mindset. This allows them to function in a precise and logical manner in which they always have their primary objective as their focal point.
Never during the epic WWII, was the commander of the allied forces ‘General Eisenhower’ seen at Normandy.
Neither was General Patton, General McArthur or Field Marshal Montgomery ever seen shooting from the hip and killing the Jerry and the Japs. Yet, these were the men responsible for defeating Hitler’s forces, and crushing the Nazi supremacy.
Not because of their ability that they could drive a tank, or fly a plane, these men were great commanders because of their ability to out maneuver the enemy, in terms of ‘mind games’. War is as much of a psychological engagement, as much as it is of men on ‘ground zero’
The commander’s responsibility is not only to win a war, but to win it with minimum casualties, and minimum collateral damage. The glorification of the ‘one man army’ is just an imagination of the flicks that are made in Hollywood, and copied by the entertainment industry in other parts of the world.
These depictions forget the fact that the highest ranking officers in any armed force, are a very high priced “asset” for the enemy force. The top commanders are privy to the details of highly confidential information and plans that are held under utter secrecy by any armed force. This information is highly sought out by the enemy, and the persons having knowledge of such details cannot be exposed directly to the enemy frontline.
Wherein, the soldiers on the frontline, are briefed on an “need to know” basis, so that the damage done in the unfortunate event of them being captured by the enemy, is minimal.
Taking the example of the Indian Army, and all major / legitimate armies around the world will be exhibiting an identical trait; how many Generals have been awarded the ‘Param Veer Chakra’ or equivalent …. The answer is none !!
As a fact the highest ranking officer to receive the ‘Param Veer Chakra’ has been “Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzarji Tarapore” (Posthumous) from the “Poona Horse” regiment of the Indian Army.
This is owing to the fact that the Generals are responsible of whatever goes on in the ‘War Room’, the responsibility of the battle field is delegated to officers down the line, and eventually to the humble foot soldier on the front line.
The top brass of any professional armed force will follow the broadly accepted path of strategic warfare, which is divided into four classifications.
These four classification of war strategies are well documented. The first being ‘Attack’, this has been followed by typical invaders throughout centuries.
To counter the strategy of ‘Attack’, there is a strategy of ‘Defend’ that is a natural response, and also has been advocated as long as battles and armed conflicts have existed.
Lesser or weaker forces, often resort to the strategy of ‘Flanking’, which is used in situations where one is outnumbered or is in a strategic disadvantage.
The last, is the strategy that addresses ‘desperation’, and it is termed as ‘Gorilla’.
No civilized armed force even uses this strategy, it is best used by small rebel forces, or terrorist groups to cause a concentrate damage that is more psychological in nature, and has minimal ground level effect in most cases. Only a rogue or failed state would need to resort to such measures.
The live examples of such gorilla strategy execution have been stamped by almost all terrorist attacks worldwide; be it 9/11 or 26/11, both in which the Pakistani state has a role to play, either in a direct manner, or indirectly.
This brings us to reflect on the propaganda that the Pakistani Air Chief, saddling up in a cockpit of an F-16, ready to take off, intending to ravage the Indian post of Siachen.
It is pitiful that a nation that claims to have a creditable defense establishment, exposes its shallowness, illiteracy and comical understanding of ‘war tactics’, both at a psychological level and an implementation level.
Or maybe their officers were trained by the directors and script writers of ‘Rambo’ and ‘Independence Day’, as it is beyond imagination that any country can actually expect the global community to take it seriously, based on their posture that can honestly rival the classic ‘Tom & Jerry’ show !!