Post Mortem

The tiger in combats

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/5/2020 12:24:01 PM IST

 Nevertheless, the fact that 03 May 2020 will go down as a sad day in the history of India when the tragic news of 04 personal of 21 Rashtriya Rifles (Guards) and a Sub Inspector of J&K Police was received.

God alone knows what would have transpired at the scene of action, but this I am confident that the Raw courage and Valour of Col Ashutosh Sharma, SM the Commanding Officer of 21 RR and the men under his command would have been at full display in all its splendor.
I had been reading views on several social media platforms on the issue of why the CO got killed in action in an operation that could well have got conducted at a Junior leader level.
Immediately my mind zoomed back to the age-old adage that a leader leads by example and especially a leader who is leading men under the duress of mortality, has to have that something extra in his persona. John C Maxwell correctly said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
When I got commissioned in the Great Indian Army, I always got to hear that the Commanding Officer is an Institution, and initially used to think what makes a man an institution. But in the course of my journey in the Army, I experienced not once but umpteen number of times that the saying is true to its last word. Yes, the Commanding officer is an Institution indeed.
Fear of death is a natural human instinct, but overcoming that fear in the face of odds is what makes a soldier, and a Unit known for its tradition of bravery, courage, and sacrifice is a conglomeration of many such soldiers. And the man responsible for keeping that spark ever alive in the Unit is the Commanding Officer fondly called the ‘Old Man or the Tiger.’ Its this man who is the ever-present example to the Officers and men of the Unit, be it on the playground, arena of training or the battlefield. Its this man who is looked upon at all times by each and every individual forming part of the Unit.
There have been numerous examples where the Good Old Commanding Officer has single-handedly by virtue of his steely nerves led his troops to victory under most trying and seemingly impossible circumstances. When one looks into the annals of the Indian Military History, list of these examples will go into volumes. Still, I can’t resist but put out names of people like Lt Col Diwan Ranjit Rai, MVC CO 1 Sikh in the spectacular defence of Srinagar, Lt Col Desmond hayed, MVC CO 3 Jat who led his troops in the famous battle of Dograi, Lt Col Hanut Singh, MVC Commandant Poona Horse who led his Regiment to unsurmountable glory in the Battle of Basantar in the Shakargarh Sector in 1971 Indo-Pak war. And even Commanding Officers like Col Ravindranath, Vrc CO 2 Rajputana Rifles, Col Lalit Rai, Vrc CO 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, Col Khushal Thakur, CO 18 Grenadiers (the list is endless) who led their outfits with unmatched elan to drive out the Pakistani intruders into our territory under the most challenging conditions on the icy unforgiving heights of general area Kargil.  
The Indian Military History overflows with the brave deeds of this Institution known as the Commanding Officer.
I don’t have an iota of doubt that Col Ashutosh did what was precisely required to be done by a CO, and his bravery and sacrifice beyond the call of duty are in line with the age-old  Glorious traditions bonded with the Institution of a Commanding Officer.
Salutes to Col Asutosh Sharma,SM, Maj Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar, Lance Naik Dinesh Singh all of 21 Rashtriya Rifles and Sub Inspector Shakeel Qazi of J&K Police for their Supreme Sacrifice. The nation can never thank you all Bravehearts enough for what you did; it will always remain indebted to you for eternity. Jai Hind !
Lt Col (Retd) Suneet Newton

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