Going easy on love affairs in armed forces could be an error

It is a cornerstone of military life. Your being an officer and a gentleman. And intrinsic to that carriage is the codicil that you will not steal the affections of a brother officer’s wife. It is not done.

Not being done has been a historical code in all armies and the judgement this week by the Kolkata bench of the armed forces tribunal on extramarital affairs kind of knocks the grace and dignity that came with this code of conduct for a bit of a loop.

Love tangle. Reuters

Love tangle. Reuters

The tribunal has said that acts of infidelity should be treated with a lot more leniency and the penalties for misconduct should be less punitive. In the case of Flt Lt Ishan Sharan accused of having an affair with the wife of a colleague who outranked him she being a Squadron Leader herself. It has been decided that rather than being dismissed from service and losing all his emoluments he should be ‘released from service’ for his indiscretion in shacking up with the lady concerned.

Imagine how tacky and tragic. Squadron Leader Dasgupta committed suicide after her affair fell apart and Sharan got married later. The husband was cuckolded and in the close-knit society of the forces, would always be known as the guy whose wife duped him. The whole squadron must have been in gloom, sides were taken, no winners, only losers.

The tribunal’s cavalier approach is clearly predicated on the new world out there and the fact that even the forces have to move on with the times. For some unfathomable reason, it also adds that what with more women joining the forces the mindset has to undergo a change.

He first indicates a flexibility indeed and may sound logical if it wasn’t made so mutually exclusive from the genesis of this fiat. The second makes no sense whatsoever and is thoroughly irrelevant. Women do not join the army, navy and air force to have affairs. I guess what they are trying to say is that women are not chattel or property and if a wife strays she is intelligent, educated and knows the consequences so why should only the man pay such a heavy price. That’s fair enough but it again misses the mark.

No one is talking about chastity belts when everyone marched off to war, leaving their women behind, unguarded. Though that is exactly why the code was made sacrosanct. It was always in times of combat that you honoured each other by saying ‘hands off.’
And when you are not in combat you are preparing for a bit.

When a brother officer went on furlough or was injured and sent home from the frontlines he became a postman, a of information for the families of his regiment and a welcome visitor to their homes. Abusing that hospitality was unthinkable. He was the SMS, the Facebook, the mobile phone for families thirsting for updates.

In India, we do not regularly have a war but thousands of officers and men are posted in non-family stations, their wives in military cantonments living alone and bringing up children. At this very moment.

Officers in the rear party or on leave who take advantage of the loneliness are what is a called a cad. Perhaps in the 21st century it is a bit of prudery to think like that but in the armed forces stealing those affections is not only unbrotherly it is also a direct slap on the esprit de corps and morale of the regiment or battalion.

Everyone is bruised. And shamed. And embarrassed.

Imagine if these two men were pilots in the same aircraft or flying in formation. Would you want to be the wingman to either of them? Imagine one commanding the other on a ship. Being part of the same armoured formation.

Regardless of the genial softening of the attitude to affairs in uniform by this tribunal’s recommendation, it will still be seen as the second worst offence after cowardice in battle.

No one is being naïve. Affairs will happen. But if you get caught, pay the price. GOING EASY ON LOVE AFFAIRS IN ARMED FORCES COULD BE AN ERROR.

It is a cornerstone of military life. Your being an officer and a gentleman. And intrinsic to that carriage is the codicil that you will not steal the affections of a brother officer’s wife. It is not done.

Not being done has been a historical code in all armies and the judgement this week by the Kolkata bench of the armed forces tribunal on extramarital affairs kind of knocks the grace and dignity that came with this code of conduct for a bit of a loop.

The tribunal has said that acts of infidelity should be treated with a lot more leniency and the penalties for misconduct should be less punitive. In the case of Flt Lt Ishan Sharan accused of having an affair with the wife of a colleague who outranked him she being a Squadron Leader herself. it has been decided that rather than being dismissed from service and losing all his emoluments he should be ‘released from service’ for his indiscretion in shacking up with the lady concerned.

Imagine how tacky and tragic. Squadron leader Dasgupta committed suicide after her affair fell apart and Sharan got married later. The husband was cuckolded and in the close-knit society of the forces, would always be known as the guy whose wife duped him. The whole squadron must have been in gloom, sides were taken, no winners, only losers.

The tribunal’s cavalier approach is clearly predicated on the new world out there and the fact that even the forces have to move on with the times. For some unfathomable reason, it also adds that what with more women joining the forces the mindset has to undergo a change.

He first indicates a flexibility indeed and may sound logical if it wasn’t made so mutually exclusive from the genesis of this fiat. The second makes no sense whatsoever and is thoroughly irrelevant. Women do not join the army, navy and air force to have affairs. I guess what they are trying to say is that women are not chattel or property and if a wife strays she is intelligent, educated and knows the consequences so why should only the man pay such a heavy price. That’s fair enough but it again misses the mark.

No one is talking about chastity belts when everyone marched off to war, leaving their women behind, unguarded. Though that is exactly why the code was made sacrosanct. It was always in times of combat that you honoured each other by saying ‘hands off.’

And when you are not in combat you are preparing for bit.

When a brother officer went on furlough or was injured and sent home from the frontlines he became postman, updater of information for the families of his regiment and a welcome visitor to their homes. Abusing that hospitality was unthinkable. He was the SMS, the Facebook, the mobile phone for families thirsting for updates.

In India we do not regularly have war but thousands of officers and men are posted in non-family stations, their wives in military cantonments living alone and bringing up children. At this very moment.

Officers in the rear party or on leave who take advantage of the loneliness are what is a called a cad. Perhaps in the 21st century it is a bit of prudery to think like that but in the armed forces stealing those affections is not only unbrotherly it is also a direct slap on the esprit de corps and morale of the regiment or battalion.

Everyone is bruised. And shamed. And embarrassed.

Imagine if these two men were pilots in the same aircraft or flying in formation. Would you want to be the wingman to either of them? Imagine one commanding the other on a ship. Being part of the same armoured formation.

Regardless of the genial softening of the attitude to affairs in uniform by this tribunal’s recommendation, it will still be seen as the second worst offence after cowardice in battle.

No one is being naïve. Affairs will happen. But if you get caught, pay the price.


Published Date: Oct 21, 2016 08:55 pm | Updated Date: Oct 21, 2016 08:55 pm


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