Friday, May 9, 2008

Sentiments of a sentinel

Two things prompted me to write this blog. One is an article written by a journalist from his air conditioned office and second is a conversation I had with a very good friend of mine whom I have never met.

This article was published couple of days back. It talks about threat to national security due to officers from armed forces posting their pictures on social networking sites. He craps about how pictures can reveal officers unit and location of that unit. He has also managed to squeeze in some quotes from some senior officers who don’t know much about the internet. Basically this guy tries to say that officers should not post their photographs wearing their uniforms and with their machines. My dear journo, do you have any idea about intelligence gathering or armed forces at all? Our enemies have better ways to gather intelligence about units and equipment than to troll social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook. This boy gives a case of an young pilot who had posted his pictures with his MiG. So what’s the big deal? Thanks to our stupid Indian media, even 5 yr olds know that we operate all types of MiG manufactured in last 4 decades. Not that Pakis or Chinkies came to know about them through Orkut. For armed forces boys, such sites are good (and many times only) way to keep in touch with family and friends. And they are responsible enough not to reveal operational details. Moreover they might have been registered on these sites long before they joined the forces. They need not delete their profiles just because they joined armed forces. Moreover they are not violating OSA (Official Secrets ACT) by posting their pictures with their machines. This Ctrl+C & Ctrl+V dude also roped in Kapil from Bharat-Rakshak to support his views. Kapil, wake up call. Not only does your site provide details about senior officers of the forces, but it gives very minute details about equipment found on various fighting machines. Hell I can find details like which IAF squadron is deployed where and what aircraft types they have. I am sure none of the officer on social networking sites will post these details. So what’s your problem man? And anyhow if Pakis, Bangladeshis or Chinkies were using Orkut/Facebook to gather intelligence, then I won’t be worried about them because then they would be seriously screwed in the head. Some intel czar could just feed them with crap by posting fake profiles with what I call 'disinformation'. That would send our good neighbours on a wild goose chase. But that’s not the case. So Mr. Dey, first analyze the situation before you write about it. I suggest you spend at least a week with some units involved in COIN (COunter INsurgency) operations and you'll know how it feels.

My conversation with my good friend started off with discussion on the article I mentioned above. Recently he has been posted to a location where he can access internet. He is an Army guy who loves technology. He's currently posted in one of the most active insurgency areas. I asked him his opinion about the article and he was mad. That is the first time I came to know that he can even get angry. He has been involved in COIN ops for more than 30 months now. He told me what he thought about the article, but sadly I can’t mention those words on my blog. In a nutshell he and many of his brother officers are not happy about this article. And surprisingly none of them have their profiles on any of the sites, but still they feel that what dumb journo has yapped is senseless. After we were done discussing this article, we started talking about setting up an alternate energy sources in remote places. Since I am in to energy solutions business now, I suggested him a couple of methods to ensure power for his laptop and cell phone. Oh BTW did I tell you how I know this warrior? Well I used to work for a technology magazine a while back and this guy wrote to us about some technical issue with his laptop. He wrote that he was posted at a place where only means of communication was VHF radios and letters/packages delivered by Army Post Office (APO). There were no internet and no cell phones. Even rudimentary field phones were out. As I was the resident military expert over there, task of helping him out was mine. In fact I snatched it from my editor. I wrote a letter that not only had the solution for his problem but also my unrealized ambition of being an officer in the forces, my planned trip to his AOR (Area of Responsibility), a poem I wrote about officers in Indian Army and much more. To cheer him up a bit, I also sent couple of DVDs with some animated cartoon series, movies and some HOT wallpapers. To impress the hell out of him and to make my package look different, I had decorated it with flag of IA and his unit's crest. It was only yesterday that I came to know about the dramatic delivery of my package to him. He told me that they had an avalanche in the area and were bogged down in their bunkers. Three of his men had lost their lives because of avalanche. Their bodies could be recovered only after six months when snow cleared. The rescue team that was sent to find them was also trapped in his bunker. Coincidentally the leader of rescue mission is also a good friend of mine. It was during this situation when a helicopter delivered my package, just like in the films. And filmy saga didn’t end there. He opened the package and read and re-read my letter and was moved by my poem. He got hold of the DVDs but he didn’t have power to turn on the laptop and check them. This was beginning of a friendship that will last life time. While this drama was taking place in one of the remotest corners of India, I was sitting 2000 km away in my air conditioned office waiting for his reply. I was afraid that Army censors had opened the package because of its suspicious looks and that my friend might be in trouble because of it. These thoughts kept on going in my mind and I was praying all the time that my nightmare does not turn real. But after good two months, I received an email from my friend saying that he had received the package intact and officers in his unit were more than happy with content on the DVDs, especially with pictures of female variety.

The point of this post is not to show off but to tell you that even soldiers are humans. They can feel emotions like love, hatred, anger, happiness just like you and me. They also need to 'connect' to their near and dear ones and there is no harm in it. They stay awake so that we might sleep peacefully. They fight so that we don’t have to. They kill so that we might stay alive. They die so that we may live. They sacrifice so much for an ungrateful nation that does not give its due to the men and women who "give their today for your tomorrow". While I keep trying to do my bit for my family whom many know as "Indian Armed Forces", here's the poem that I had sent to my friend. As usual, comments are welcome.

Afsar (Officer)

O death, be not so proud
For I am not from the crowd
I am not a coward
Who’s afraid to charge forward
I am ready to bear the brunt
As I lead my men from the front
I laugh in face of death
And protect my country till last breath
I have fond memories of my family
While I go on soldiering daily
For a nation that does not care for us
We don’t make much fuss
I fight for land of my father and temple of my God,
To make my motherland a peaceful abode
I am an officer, I am a soldier
Everyone who fights with me is a brother
Give me strength O Lord
To cut enemies with my sword


  1. Nice and well written.

    PS: Change the fucking theme.

  2. Hey nice work! Am so proud of you...You should get the snap of the journo and post it on the blog...Also give me phone numbers of those army officers you know..:-))
    Hugs n kisses.

  3. Nice work dude....the journo really needs to spend time with the country's fauji's.

  4. Hey Dude.... tats a Gr8 work! I think for Journo's it is very easy to pass comment being on the safer side. Ask those dumb-headed ppl to survive a day of their life and i m sure they all learn there lessons...

  5. I will sir. I will. Hope you will pass it on to our boys.

  6. nicely composed..lets circulate it max.

  7. hey vishu!! cool work,and as usuall,u write well,thx for making ppl aware of on grnd situ..keep on writing(more from the moto q thesedays)...ha ha :)
    major vikrant

  8. neat write up dude....keep up the great work....:-))

  9. Ok dude I will be frank and forthright. I went through those ordeals which u mentioned with some kind of strength I didnt know I possessed. No fears, no tears, just the single aim of surviving. To live and ensure that rest of us got back alive. It was so cold that vapours rising from hot tea would freeze on the rim of the glass on coming in contact with cold air, but I kept my smile because too many people were looking towards me. But after reading your blog I learnt another thing which maybe I had forgotten long back - that my eyes still retain their capacity to get wet. Thanx buddy for reminding me that I am still a human, I am still alive and I can still cry.

    May God bless your soul.

  10. Hi,

    This is the first comment I am leaving on anyone's blog.
    Good way to show that you care.
    I too come from an Army background,have family members and friends in Armed Forces.
    More than anything else,any "fauji" wants to be respected/recognised for his efforts.
    And "wasted potential/oppportunity" is sure to put off any true soldier.

  11. Wowww!!! what an amazing true story my friend ..u really did this extrmemly well, and it shows ur didictation to our country and how much u love and care about it, it reallly impressed me aloot...and hey nice work done buddy with the words.....i have discovered a poet within you what an amazing poem with deep and tocuhing words which can be felt if u try to feel it.....Hats off to you Vishal!!!!

  12. Hats off to you man. \m/
    Yea I am totally agree with you that "even soldiers are humans."
    and regarding the article on dnaindia then WTF those journo know about security.
    Do they think that those jawans are dumbos? they don't know their responsibilities? they will keep posting a scrap about their activities, their missions etc.... all those things which holds great significance.

    Ohh man take me out of this please.
    To get good hits on the page and to sell good amount of newspaper they will write of anything which is very much famous. (like orkut, facebook, Security of Indian Army etc.....).

    Good poem as well from your side Vishal.

  13. You are pretty right about the security. Information leakage should be considered seriously while communicating by any means if he/she is working with anything which is profitable to enemy. I agree that no one gives out confidential information on purpose. The best way is to educate or train them initially on various kinds of scenarios/cases which doesn’t not look like information leakage but which can give out many to other desperate information gatherers.

    It is a good article about the solder’s life as well. It gives closer picture on solder’s life for a civilian.

    Nice work man.


  15. Right said.
    These journos are bunch of crap.
    Send them in that inhospitable condition for 1 hr and then ask him to write same article. I'm sure he wont be able to write a single word.

  16. The danger of social networking is not in soldiers revealing their stuff online. but in some smart alek intelligence operative working himself into the good graces of someone , becoming their friend and very slyly and surely extracting information out of these youngsters. I am not saying it is easy, but it certainly is possible

  17. Well as all comments is nicely written. Soldiers need to be respected and yes about journalists...they should think about what they write. I have come across many case where journos write any stupid thing about anyone (including history) without even bothering to search. They just want to get their pens on paper to print their money.

    Off course soldiers are human and they should be treated as first citizens of nation. A lot more than entertainment heroes (for me entertainment cartoons)

  18. nice one.
    its not this one journo almost 99per of journo write bullshit without taking facts and reality in to account.
    as rightnow they feel and they are not accountable to anyone,and take their job as a business and try to get as many readers as they can get by creating unnecessary controversies.

  19. A very logical thought, nicely put

  20. grt wrk vishal....congrats on a wonderful effort...keep it up

  21. grt wrk vishal....congrats on a wonderful effort...keep it up

  22. Hi Vishal,

    nice to see a pro-fauji blogger.

    nice post, though you may like to break up the post into a few more paragraphs - makes the reading easier!

    do go through my blog