The news of May 9, 2023 stated that the Indian Army has decided to have a common uniform for officers of Brigadier and above rank from August 1. This was reportedly aimed at bringing a common identity and approach in service matters amongst the senior leadership, which goes beyond the boundaries of regimentation.

The headgear, shoulder rank badges, georgette patches, belts and shoes of Brigadiers and above will now be standardised and common with flag rank officers not wearing any lanyard. The reports go on to say that the decision was taken after “detailed deliberations” at the recently concluded Army Commanders and “extensive consultations with all stakeholders”.

The ‘Butter Brigade’, as expected, is clapping on social media as they did for the Agniveers. Even the present Army Chief recently eulogised the ‘Agnipath’ concept of injecting Agniveers into the Army with “mere four-months of basic recruit training”, even though it runs contrary to achieving the requisite soldier–machine systems mix in high-tech environment, the problems being both technical and psychological in nature, especially when dealing with adaptive machines intelligence systems.

But then as someone wrote, he never did and never would need to command a frontline fighting unit, and when the debacle happens he would have retired long ago, or maybe enjoying a gubernatorial post if not joined politics.

The gimmickry of changing the Army uniforms has happened many times in the past, bringing glee to tailors and vendors marketing accoutrements with military dresses. But this one is different. In the instant case, the rhetoric of “detailed deliberations” at the Army Commanders Conference and “extensive consultations with all stakeholders” fools none. As to the balance ‘reasoning’, the grass looks greener on the other side when fertilised with bullshit.

Why not admit bluntly that this is the first step to kill the regimental system in the Army, which NSA Ajit Doval publicly talked about when launching the Agnipath scheme, not to mention the ultimate aim for ‘policeising’ the Army, even bringing them below the police forces.

So when the diktat is from above, who dare oppose it and don’t the Army Commanders know this is the era of ‘deep selection’ where none of the serving three-stars and above were found fit to be appointed the CDS. The logic that common dress would bring “common approach” in service matters amongst the senior leadership is indeed laughable when the ‘deep state’ is the puppet master.

Take for example promotions, in which case, we cannot deny the following:

  • A lanyard is not necessary for those who want to practise favouritism.
  • There have been many cases where promotion boards are returned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with telephonic messages who should be added in the approved list.
  • In other cases, the promotion boards are simply held up in the MoD for months together till the ‘politically undesirables’ in the approved list retire and go home.

The above is just one example out of many, including the operation to grab prime defence lands in military cantonments. Are senior officers wearing a regimental beret (like maroon by officers of The Para Regiment and black by Armoured Corps officers) hindering them from taking a common approach in matters military?

With so much talk of going back to the roots should make our senior army leadership acknowledge that destiny cannot be changed and any amount of kowtowing to politicians cannot change that, each one of them will get what is destined for them. Posterity will never forgive them for corroboration with the political machinations to kill the regimental system and ethos of the Army. For heaven’s sake stand up.

Obviously, the policy makers are jealous and loathe to the ethos of the Army, and how it contributes to the fighting spirit. But if the ultimate aim is to kill the regimental system and the ethos of the Army, why not change the military uniform to khaki altogether and call them ISF (Indian Security Forces) once for all rather than salami-slicing tactics. Doval has been referring to the INA periodically, and the RSS also wears khaki pants like the police.

An amusing question on social media is that aren’t the khaki pants/shorts ‘colonial’ – borrowed from British Johnnies? Isn’t the underwear colonial (he didn’t mention the game of cricket)?

So why not change to pyjamas or dhoti and switch to the good old loincloth (langot), or leave the balls free, to indicate we are not a soft state who only talk of terrorism at various forums and don’t dare hit the roots of terror beyond our borders. So what if some of our union ministers love posing for photographs wearing a ‘colonial’ style hat with their pyjamas/dhoti; perhaps feeling like John Wayne.

Prakash Katoch is a veteran of the Indian Army. Views expressed are personal.