Army officers are expected to set standards for jawans and motivate them by example to reach their full potential.
But a study conducted in the northeast over a period of five years has come out with some disturbing findings - middle-rank officers have been found to be more vulnerable and stressed out than JCOs and jawans deployed in the counter-insurgency grid.
The Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) had conducted a study on 'psycho-social aspects of optimising operational efficiency of security forces to combat insurgency', from September 2000 to May 2005.
Defence Minister AK Antony revealed the findings of the study in Lok Sabha on Thursday in response to a query.
The study has recommended combat stress management training programmes for officers.
The defence minister said the study showed that fear of torture, uncertain environment and domestic stress were the three main operational stresses responsible for most of the psychological problems in various groups of the armed forces.
Figures attest the grim scenario in the Army - the force has recorded an average of 100 suicides every year since 2002. Stress-related fragging - soldiers killing their own colleagues - has also sent the force scurrying for cover.
In 2006 alone, the force has witnessed 23 cases of fratricide, involving three officers, four JCOs and 16 jawans. The defence ministry had set up a committee under the DIPR Chairman to probe the causes of fratricide and submit a report within two months.
The DIPR study has brought out that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has taken its toll on both traumatised and non-traumatised troops, spawning a variety of psychosomatic symptoms.
It has also focused attention on the need for immediate therapeutic intervention in PTSD cases by unit leaders and professional psychologists.
Antony told the Lok Sabha that the DIPR had submitted its recommendations to the armed forces for further action.