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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Self destructive loose cannons | Column

It reminds me of a Loose Cannon episode during our Young Officers Course(YOs) at Ahmadnagar, our alma mater.

columns Updated: Sep 24, 2017 15:48 IST
Col Avnish Sharma(retd)
Col Avnish Sharma(retd)
Hindustan Times
Col Avnish Sharma(retd)
Col Avnish Sharma(retd)

Ridiculous and unwarranted utterances by public figures on personalities and sensitive episodes has caught the attention of our environment at large. Ranging from a wide spectrum indictment of the country’s Army Chief, comparing him with the barbaric Brigadier General Dyer and a despicable street goon, by an academician and a politician respectively, to a state political leader’s despicable comment on the Varnika Kundu stalking case ,’ What was she doing out so late?’, a senior minister of the of a state explaining his largesse to the rape convict baba that the donation was meant for ‘encouraging games’ at the Dera , a ruling party MP calling the same baba a ‘noble soul’ and lately the international branding of our country as ‘dynast state’ are some typical cases of ‘Eyes cannot see what the mind does not know’.

It reminds me of a Loose Cannon episode during our Young Officers Course(YOs) at Ahmadnagar, our alma mater.

It was the autumn of 1981, when we commenced with the gunnery phase of the YOs. Tank gunnery was and is perceived as the bedrock of professional skill imbibed by a tank man and thus we were at rapt attention when Captain Passi, our flamboyant instructor commenced his opening lecture, “Introduction to Tank Gunnery”. The first view foil flashed on the screen read,’Ek Gola Ek Tank’, meaning accuracy and precision while shooting at an enemy tank. The talk progressed with the Captain narrating the advent and evolution of the tank warfare from the Battle of Somme(First World War) to the present days. And then suddenly, a hand shot up in the front row, and our chip of the old block came up with an unscheduled doubt,” Sir, Ek Gola Ek Tank would also be the enemy’s aim. How do we cater to that?” There were sighs of ‘not again’ in the hall. The rabble rouser young officer was clearly jumping the gun. Captain Passi tried explaining,” Officer, we shall cross the bridge when we reach it (meaning there is a session scheduled on the subject later in the week).” This is when our senior instructor, an alert Lieutenant Colonel sitting at the rear gallery intervened. “Captain, throw some light on armoured protection not withstanding its scheduled slot later. The keen young officer should not have a sleep less night”.

A reluctant Captain Passi than proceeded with the nuances of types of armour plating on the tank, the areas and degrees of impact and plethora of other technical jargon, including the future trends to thwart ‘Ek Gola Ek tank’ mission of an enemy tank gunner. The class was on the verge of dozing off after this heavy and incomprehensible rendition which otherwise was to be approached in a graduated schedule. Visibly though, our colleague who originated this tormenting session seemed all ears but guys who knew him also knew that his grey matter was cased in an impregnable ‘Chobam Armour’, the strongest armour plating on a tank which denies piercing by any shell attack. These gimmicks were purely to catch attention of the environment and thus stamp his identity of an ‘inquisitive mind’.

After the Captain finished, the impish senior instructor summed up the session thus,” Gentlemen. All tanks are quite well protected against an enemy Gola except a loose cannon coming in for a stray attack. But, since loose cannons have neither the bite nor accuracy, they damage their base more than they damage the target. Thank you.” Then he added after a pause, “Sadly, you guys have eaten into your tea break. Settle down for your next class in two minutes flat.” We were thus made to contend with the dirty stares at our loose cannon buddy, rather than gorging on the sumptuous samosas of the gunnery wing canteen, the best available in the whole of Armoured Corps Centre and School, Ahmadnagar.

First Published: Sep 24, 2017 15:48 IST

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