DEFENCE NOTES

 

I was initiated into the working of the Armour Directorate by the GSO 1. Soon after I arrived I was asked to draft an order to the Armoured Corps Centre which was under the technical control of the Directorate. I drafted a categorical order stating clearly what had to be done. When I submitted it to the GSO 1 for approval he called me and told me that the order was clear and categorical, such orders were not to be issued and all orders and instructions were to be worded in such a way that if anything went wrong, the recipient was to be blamed. After that I found myself signing all orders and instructions which were nasty or could be represented against.

The second part of the initiation was more amusing. I had been informed that I was the 'administrative officer' of the Directorate and was responsible for the administrative needs of the officers of the Directorate. A few days later I was called by the GSO 1 and told that he was building a house and that the prices of some items had to be found from the market. I refused stating that this was not my job. I was told as the administration officer it was my job. I still refused and was told that this would be brought to the notice of the Director and he would take a dim view of my refusal. The matter should have ended there but I found that most of the civilian clerks from my section disappeared after the attendance had been taken. On inquiry I was told that the GSO 1 sent them on various personal tasks. This was partly true, some of the staff were doing the GSO 1's personal jobs while the others were involved in their own businesses or visited government offices outside GHQ. One day the GSO 1 called me and told my response to various cases was slow and I should improve it. The response was slow because my staff was absent most of the time. As the 'administrative officer' of the Directorate I closed all the exits from the clerks room except the one leading to my room and instituted a system where a clerk leaving the Directorate for any purpose, including going to the bathroom, had to have written permission from me. The day after I imposed these restrictions the GSO 1 asked me to relax the restrictions. I told him that no clerk with any backlog of work would be allowed to go out and soon all my backlog was cleared.

Soon after I joined the Directorate, Brigadier Bashir was posted out and was replaced by Brigadier Riaz ul Karim. A few days after the arrival of the new director the GSO 1 also left and Lieutenant Colonel Syed Hashmat Ali Bokhari, of 13 Lancers replaced him and this made the atmosphere congenial in the Directorate.

In the three years that Brigadier Bashir had been the Director Armoured Corps, he had affected a number of changes in the Corps. After Exercise Milestone in 1962, he reorganised the armoured regiments by reducing the number of tanks in a regiment to 44. The reconnaissance troop of the armoured regiment was reorganised with six anti-tank rifles and six machine gun-armed jeeps. These changes enabled the raising of four more tank regiments out of the tanks received under the American aid and still left the Shermans free for raising four more regiments but the latter were restrained by the manpower ceiling agreement with the Americans. The only thing most people did not approve in the re-organisation was the tank squadron of three troops of four tanks rather than four troops of three tanks. This organisation reduced the flexibility of the squadron commander and increased the responsibility of the troop leader.

Out of the Shermans freed by the re-organisation Brigadier Bashir got the approval for the creation of four reserve tank regiments, manned in skeleton form to remain within the manpower limitation agreement with the Americans, to be brought up to strength on mobilisation, and these were raised as 'Tank Delivery Units".

About a month after I was posted to the Directorate, I received an invitation from Colonel M. A. G. Osmany, East Bengal Regiment, posted as the Deputy Director Military Operations, to have lunch with him at the Rawalpindi Club where he was living. I did not know Colonel Osmany and wondered why he had invited me. I went anyway and after the preliminaries, Colonel Osmany came to the point and suggested that a tank regiment should be located in East Pakistan and I should help in this. I explained that the Armour Directorate did not deal with the deployment of troops, rather it was the Military Operations Directorate which did this and he was part of it. He then said if this deployment was made the Armour Directorate should not oppose it. He well understood the working of GHQ where an objection or recommendation raised by a GSO 2 usually went all the way.

The discipline and output of work by the civilian clerks remained a problem. After the change of the Director and the GSO 1, I initiated a case stating that it was surprising that most clerks in the Directorate were civilians and did not know anything about tanks or the organisation and functioning of the armoured regiments, the Armoured Corps Centre and the Armoured Corps School. Therefore they should be replaced with clerks on 'extra regimental employment'. This created quite a stir amongst the clerical staff because if my idea was accepted, the clerks would lose their jobs and from then on they acted in a more responsible manner.

After the arrival of Brigadier Riaz-ul-Karim and Lieutenant Colonel Hashmat Bokhari, the Directorate settled down to dealing with the day to day problems of the Armoured Corps. Under the US Aid programme, Pakistan Army was supposed to receive training ammunition from the Americans. Very soon after I assumed the charge in the Directorate one of the commanding officers pointed out to me that the Armoured Corps had not carried out tank firing for two years and no ammunition had been allocated for the current year. On checking I found that the Americans had not supplied the training ammunition for the last two years and for the current year. Major Mukhtar Syed and I invited the American officer dealing with the Armoured Corps in the American Military Aid Pakistan (MAP) office to the Directorate and over coffee confronted him with this lapse in the aid programme. The officer replied that the fault was on our side and asked us to check with the Weapons and Equipment Directorate who dealt with the war reserves of ammunition. When we inquired from the WE (Weapon & Equipment) Directorate, they tried to avoid the issue but when pressed admitted that the training ammunition had been transferred to the 'war reserve', on the initiative of a civilian GSO 2 in the Directorate and since then the Americans had stopped supplying training ammunition. Eventually the WE Directorate released the ammunition and the normal annual firing by the armoured corps was resumed.

Under the American aid programme Pakistan was to receive 504 Main Battle Tanks (MBT) and 110 light tanks. The M 24 (Chaffee) light had been supplied when the aid started in 1955 but according to the agreement they were to be replaced. The Americans offered the M 41 (Bull Dog Walker) with a 76mm gun. The Armoured Corps Directorate, while Brigadier Bashir was the Director, made out a case for M 48 tanks. The Americans did not agree to the proposed change which eventually lead to the reconnaissance regiments remaining equipped with M24s and we did not receive any more tanks. At the GHQ we failed to recognise that the American policy towards Pakistan had changed and that America was more inclined towards India than Pakistan and we should take whatever we could get. The government also did not advise us about this.

In GHQ there were 'territories' which were jealously guarded against encroachment. All directorates had their own territory and were on the lookout to increase their area of influence. After the change of the Director two cases were initiated which sought to reduce the jurisdiction of the Armoured Corps Centre and School. The first one came from the Organisation and Methods Directorate, which should have worked to improve efficiency but primarily sought to reduce manpower to show its own efficiency by reducing overall costs. The O&M had jurisdiction over static or administrative organisations, the Armoured Corps Centre and School was within its jurisdiction. The Armoured Corps Centre and School was organised to look after the needs of six regiments only and was looking after the needs of fourteen regiments and in spite of this the O&M recommended reductions in the Centre and School. In the Armour Directorate we tried to explain the actual requirement and how we were meeting the shortages by attaching NCOs and ORs from the regiment. The O&M insisted that its working of the manpower and equipment was correct and wanted the Directorate to agree to the cuts. As they would not listen to any reason I decided to 'stonewall' them by commenting on one point at a time, waiting fourteen days before replying and then raising a query. This went on for long. Eventually the O&M dropped the re-organisation.

The second proposal came from the Signals Directorate criticizing the training of wireless operators in the Armoured Corps and recommending that the training should be carried out at the Signal School, the staff at the Signal School to be increased and the staff at the Armoured Corps Centre and School to be reduced. We replied that the wireless operator in a tank was the loader of the tank main gun and its machine gun and operating the wireless set was his secondary job. Briefed by a senior major of the Armoured Corps, serving in the GHQ, the Signal Directorate demanded the training programme showing how much gunnery training was being imparted. In the Centre and the School, the wireless operators were receiving no training in gunnery. If we made the actual training programme available we would have lost the case so it was decided to amend the training programme and send the amended programme. The programme file with the Military Training Directorate was borrowed and substituted with an amended programme which was sent to the Armoured Corps Centre and School and the reason was explained to them. Then an amended copy of the programme was sent to the Signals Directorate with the remark that if the wireless operators training was transferred the gunnery standard should be maintained. This put an end to the Signals Directorate demand.

Defence of the respective areas of influence often had a negative effect. In those days the Military Intelligence Directorate used to circulate letter informing various directorates about what was going on in the Indian army. One such letter stated that the Indians in collaboration with the Chrysler Corporation of USA had managed to re-engine their Sherman V tanks. After reading the report I concluded that the tanks were also being up-gunned and raised a query with the Military Intelligence Directorate, Major Sardar Ahmad, who had been in the same squadron as me in 13 Lancers, and was the Armour expert of Military Intelligence Directorate, he got annoyed and refused to make the necessary inquiries. In the1965 war we captured tanks of the 2nd Royal Lancers that had been up-gunned with French 75mm long barreled high velocity guns.

In the Armoured Corps gunnery training, an engagement with the main gun using high explosive ammunition called 'semi-indirect fire' was taught to engage targets which the tank commander could see and the tank gunner could not. Students had objected that they could not visualize when this could happen but the school authorities said 'that it was taught at Babina' and therefore it was 'gospel'. I raised this anomaly with the Director, Brigadier Riaz-ul-Karim and he told me that it was a left over from the days of the Lee-Grant tank gunnery and authorised me to instruct the school to discontinue it.

Because a person who had served as an instructor in an Army school of instruction received special credit in his rating for promotion and appointments, officers used all sorts of methods, fair and foul, to achieve good results on courses and for appointment as instructors. The instructor type officer usually followed an 'instructor' career path, PMA or own arm school of instruction as a captain, own arm of instruction as a major, staff college as a lieutenant colonel. In the Armoured Corps at the time that I was at the Armoured Corps Centre, an officer on a course was graded as "average" When the grading was seen by the Officer Commanding the School he upgraded it one level and sent it to the Centre Commandant who upgraded it to the highest grade with the remark that the officer would be a fine replacement of the existing instructor and he did replace him.

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