By Major General (Dr) P K Chakravorty, VSM

New Delhi. 03 March 2019. Best practices in the world militaries can be a source of great learning and if imbibed might become a motivation to our own forces.  Motivation is derived from the word motive which is defined as a need that requires satisfaction. These needs could also be wants or desires that are acquired through the influence of culture, society and lifestyle. The Cambridge Dictionary defines motivation as the enthusiasm for doing something. In the Armed Forces everyone forms a part of a team. It is this enthusiastic team work that leads us to victory.

The Armed Forces all over the World have to function as a team and remain motivated. In an article by Sergio Catignani on Motivating Soldiers, he states that as early as 400 BCE, Xenophon had stated that not numbers or strength bring victory in war but whichever Army goes into battle stronger in soul, their enemies generally cannot withstand them.  In current parlance a strong soul as applicable to Armed Forces is strong combat motivation.

In modern times the best example to take is Israel has a population of 87 lakhs and has an Army of about 4.45 lakhs and is facing the entire Arab world which has much greater population. The asymmetry is to an order of magnitude. Israel has been able to counter conventional and unconventional threats by its superior qualitative edge. This has occurred due to its superior training methods and combat morale. Combat motivation is an important factor enabling Armies to win conflicts. In the case of Israel it has been referred to as the secret weapon of the Israeli Armed Forces.

There has been considerable research undertaken in the field of combat motivation. The studies indicate that fighting spirit, aggressiveness and high morale has led to higher combat efficiency. The Israeli Defence Forces is based on   conscription. Accordingly, practically every person in Israel has been a member of the Israeli Defence Forces and the entire nation stands motivated in the field of economy, industry, technology. Medicine and Military Strategy. It is common to see all senior leaders performing in various positions in the civil industries. As a matter of fact all heads of state of Israel have been in the military and society respects the military.

 Various analysis have shown that unit cohesion not only strengthens unit level of morale but also acts as a powerful preventive measure against psychiatric break down in battle and as a generator of heroic behaviour among the unit members. It is unique in Israel that cohesion comes from society to the Army rather than the reverse. This is due to the fact that Israeli society is unified on a common cause. It is important to see the other Armies and their methods of motivation.

In most western Armies the country respects the soldier. The United States gained its freedom from the United Kingdom through the US Army and General George Washington was the first President of the United States. The Armed Forces are deeply respected in the United States. Conscription existed up to 1973. Currently it is a professional Armed Force with military personnel occupying important positions in various departments of the US Government. The US forces are deeply motivated and frequent case studies are made in areas where their troops are deployed to assess the morale of Us troops be it Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.

On 14 May 2018 RAND Corporation undertook an exhaustive survey of 81 soldiers as to why they enlisted for the Armed Forces. The primary motivations are:-

  • Adventure and travel.
  • Benefits. 32% of the soldiers called military benefits a major motivation for enlisting. this includes health care, active duty tuition assistance and post service support structures like the GI Bill. Military service is indeed a lifeline for some Americans.
  •  The next aspect is job stability and pay. Nearly a quarter of soldiers had a simple explanation for their decision to enlist: They needed to make money, especially given the economic turmoil the country.
  • Many felt it was escaping a negative environment. The soldiers felt it was a change in socio political environment. The Army provided the soldier with a good working environment and took care of his social needs.

The United Kingdom like the US has deep respect for personnel of the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces are professional and highly motivated. Currently due to heavy commitments the pressures are being felt by the men and women of the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Recruitment and retention are important policy concerns for the UK Ministry of Defence. RAND research into the attitudes of military personnel towards their remuneration package is positive. Like the US it motivates them to join and stay in the Armed Forces. By and large the same is applicable to other Western Armies. It would be interesting to examine the military motivation of the authoritarian States.

At the outset we will examine the Communist countries. It would be appropriate to examine the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. The Chinese PLA forms a part of the Communist party and is respected by the Communist Party and the society. Many officials of the PLA are members of the Central organ of the Communist party and command high level of power. The Army is extremely motivated and works as a cohesive team. It is a People’s Army and the personnel are a well-knit team. The model is similar in other Communist Countries.

The Russian Armed Forces continue with its erstwhile traditions. They are extremely dedicated and motivated. The Pakistan Armed Forces own the country and are extremely motivated.

The Indian Armed Forces are extremely professional and highly motivated. Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and Non Commissioned Officers are extremely good leaders who are prepared to sacrifice their life for the nation. The Soldier can face all odds and has no demands. The organisation is based on Care and Share. It is related to the social values of the nation and its belief in values enshrined by families. Possibly it can be rated as professional and combat hardened. To maintain this high state of morale it is incumbent on the Government to look after the needs of these valiant personnel. The Indian Armed Forces have left no stone unturned to keep the nations flag flying high. God bless the Armed Forces of India to reach their pinnacle of glory.