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May 29, 2024

Research Paper: Stress and Adaptability among Indian Army Officers posted in different locations

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By: Divya Wankhade

Indian Army Officers: source Internet

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This document contains my master dissertation, the final document of my masters in clinical psychology at NSHM Knowledge Campus – Kolkata. It describes results of my research on Stress and Adaptability among Indian Army Officers, Junior and Senior Rank posted in Peace station and field station. Finishing this research project means a lot to me and could have not been possible without the help of many people.

Firstly, I want to express my gratitude to my supervisor Soma Pramanik whose insightfulness feedback pushed me to put my best foot forward which brought my work to high level with all her patience and understanding. I am fortunate to finish research work under her guidance. Whose expertise was invaluable in formulating my research at every step.

I can’t forget to thank my friends whose constant faith has always boosted my morale and confidence in my abilities.

I would thank my mom and dad for encouraging, supporting and motivating me to complete my dissertation successfully. My special thanks to my dad who himself being a senior Army Officer helped me at every step with his past experiences of his service as an Indian Army Officer. It was challenging task to carry out this topic in this difficult times. I am grateful to each and every officer posted in different terrains who cooperated in best of their efforts in every possible way with my research work.

Above all, thankful to the almighty God who bestowed me with good health, knowledge and skill, giving me strength and perseverance in hard times and always holding my hands.

ABSTRACT

Mental illness, shrouded by disgrace is the giant in the room here which is finally acknowledged by the society. The propagation issues of mental health are the armed defensive conflicts and majorly the terrorists activities both the military as well as the civilian society are affected. The meticulous aspect of military life appears to be leading to mental health issues in defense personnel. In India, with limited medical resources, the situation is even dark.

The present study explores the differences in stress and adaptability among Indian Army Officers posted in different locations. The structured Likert scales were used to collect data through online survey method from 100 serving Indian Army officers, of both genders (female and male) of junior and senior rank posted in peace station & field station. The tests used include perceived social support, perceived stress, quality of life, general health questionnaire, PCL-M and resilience scale. The data was then statistically analysed through (SPSS).

The results of the study indicate difference in social support among Peace station and Field station officers in the Indian Army. In fact, field station has less social support (p<0.05) on social support scale as compared to peace station Army personnel. Thus, the study also proposes strategies for reducing stress level and increasing support among field station officers for better adaptability in the Indian Army.

INTRODUCTION OF THE RESEARCH

Stress may occur in many forms such as psychological, emotional, physical, social, occupational or job-related. Occupational stress is a condition arising from job-related factors or combination of factors obstructing the worker and impinging on his or her physical and psychological health; and simultaneously leading to various organisational consequences such as sickness-related absence, high employee turnover, high stress-related health care costs, loss of productivity, etc. Therefore, stressful situations in the workplace create occupational stress which leads to negative and harmful effects on both employers and employees, which is exactly the situation in the army these days as occupational stress is propelling its soldiers toward deadly steps and simultaneously tarnishing the image of the Indian army.

India has 1.13 million strong Army making it world’s second largest Army. No better soldier than the Indian soldier. The Indian soldier can suffer the privacy, his needs are few and more importantly, he can brave the hardship of Army life even in combat better than any other soldier in the world. Though it has not fought a full-blown war in decades, the force is bogged down in fighting domestic insurgencies, guarding restrictive borders and sometime quelling civilian rioting. Each type of profession has its own difficulties and demands adjustment to it. Adjustment and devotion in any work get hampered by non-fulfilment of basic needs e.g., physical and emotional needs and this is true for our army men too. The need for physical survival and bodily comforts includes the needs for food, clothing, shelter, sleep, rest etc the love and affection for family, religious as well as national sentiments are emotional needs that drives human behaviour. The changing times through which army has traversed during the past over six decades, the Politico-Bureaucratic establishment, the socio- economic changes and the consequent changes in value of the society and advent of booming electronic media and telecommunication revolution have had their direct impact on the men in the uniform. Their levels of aspirations are high and they feel they are left behind in the race of life than their counterparts in the civil society. The armed forces personnel have perceived to have been neglected vis-à-vis their counterparts especially the IAS/IPS cadres. Armed forces appear to be the last option for the youth. This transition is inconsistent with the core value of Armed Forces depriving them of the best material in the youth and resulting in the continued shortage of officers in junior ranks.

Stress has become the biggest wary of the Army personnel. Stress therefore is the by-product of the environment from which they come and the environment in which they operate Violence by itself has become synonymous with trauma and stress. That is why 80,000 people from Kashmir alone complained of depression during 2005-6 with over three fourth of them being diagnosed with serious physiological disorders. Automatically, warfare without doubt is among the most distressing circumstances that human beings endure. To be separated from family, friends and familiar locations for longer period is sufficient enough to produce stress reaction in most healthy people. Death and injuries to friends and colleagues are emotionally devastating and cause intense grief reaction. Add in the constant threat of personal maiming or death and contributions to killing of others. The result is extremely high level of psychological arousal, aggression, anxiety and fear. Therefore, from Generals to the enlisted in lower ranks everyone in the military is stressed.

Armed forces workers are exposed to various kinds of stress on account of unique nature of their duties and services that involve being away from their away from their families for long periods, being in life threatening combat situations and deployment in extreme weather conditions. The stress that takes place from this anxiety have no parallel in civilian life as much as threat to life and well-being which accompanies this job. The untreated mental health tribulations have an indifferent impact in happiness and operational effectiveness of armed forces in combat situations. Researchers reveal that fear of well-being stigmatized and lack of trust/conflict in mental health providers are major barriers to seeking help in armed personnels.

According to study conducted by Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR), 3 main operational stressors found were fear of torture, uncertain environment and domestic stress.

Stress in field areas

The stress in field area is due to active operations of counter terrorism and counter insurgency or deployment on the borders. In cases officers are leading their soldiers and they are under stress that no harm should come to them or the soldiers they are commanding. So, there is stress to safeguard yourself and also your troops.

Normally the deployment is in companies or platoons and there is only one officer for 100 soldiers. So as a leader he is isolated, he has to make decisions. If things go wrong, he is responsible. The burden of responsibility of his soldiers is a big stress on officers.

The situations on the borders can suddenly flare up like in Galwan and can lead to war between two countries. Therefore, the officers have to focus on their task always. He cannot go on leaves when he wants. His family is on separated accommodation and parents are old. But he has to keep his role and stay deployed in border areas.

In Kashmir, it is very stressful since if wrong decision is taken then innocent people will get killed, media and police will take action against army officer. Terrorists hide in civil population and searching for them is very difficult.

Stress in high altitude

A -60 degree temperature is not designed for mortals like us to survive but our soldiers fight to harshest weather conditions in the world, not only staying but fighting to survive each day, eventually lead to numerous health issues in them.

The Indian Army spends 80% of their time to prepare soldiers for deployment in such harsh terrains.

As Indian Army foundations aptly reads “We do the difficult as a routine. The impossible may take a little longer”.

Soldiers here face not just threat of enemies but also suffer from diseases such as frostbites, severe depression, pulmonary and cerebral oedema.

The present investigation selected under consideration are – Junior Rank, Senior Rank Army Officers posted in peace station, field station and high-altitude station.

Psychometric testing has been conducted over 100 serving officers to check the amount of stress they have to bear in the place where they are presently posted. The various psychometric testing is perceived social support, perceived stress, general health questionnaire, quality of life, post traumatic checklist: military version and resilience.

LITERATURE REVIEW

ARTICLE BY: MAJOR GENERAL MINAL SUMAN 23TH AUGUST 2014

Soldiers and Stress

Although stress is a biological term, it is commonly used in a metaphorical sense. It has also come to be accepted as a euphemism for describing difficulties faced by an individual. Every one faces challenges in life. These could be due to professional, societal and domestic environment. These challenges vary in intensity and are handled appropriately by human bodies, both at physical and emotional levels. Failure to adapt to challenges results in perceiving them as threats, which in turn generates pressures. When pressures become severe, human organism gets strained to respond. Extreme pressures become stress. Some experts consider stress to be as a subjective sensation as it differs with individuals with varied symptoms. When stress surpasses ability to handle, it becomes a threat to both physical and emotional well-being. While stress refers to the reaction of the organism, stressor implies perceived threat. However, stress within manageable limits is not only desirable but essential. It acts as an engine that drives humans to excel. Unless a human experiences sufficient stress, enough adrenaline does not get produced to propel him to strive for achieving objectives beyond his normal capabilities. Stress is thus, an integral part of human functioning and is a catalyst for fulfilment of aspirations.

Stresses faced by soldiers are entirely different from those faced by civilians, both in nature and intensity. These stresses threaten emotional and psychological equilibrium of soldiers and generate the “fight-or-flight” response. Some of the major peculiarities are as follows: –

  • ·       Whereas stresses faced by civilians generally relate to material and societal issues, soldiers face both physical (threat to life) and emotional stresses. Civilians have their families with them to share their concerns unlike a soldier who has to bear it all alone

– lack of family support in times of emotional disturbances is thus, a major contributory factor.

  • ·       Military’s highly disciplined, hierarchal and restrictive environment deters giving vent to or sharing pent up frustrations. Howsoever disturbed a soldier maybe he has to put up a façade of bravado. Bottled up discontentment with no escape valve results in a ‘pressure cooker effect’. Additionally, military service is a long-term commitment. Unlike civilians, soldiers cannot switch jobs if not satisfied.
  • ·       Serving in isolated, lonely and oxygen-starved high-altitude areas of the Himalayas affects physiology and psychology of soldiers. For example, many soldiers fear that continued exposure to ultra-violet rays and lack of oxygen would affect their reproductive organs. Fear of impotency becomes highly stressful.
  • ·       Inability to be with parents and family in times of domestic emergencies weighs heavily on the minds of many soldiers. They do understand problems relating to exigencies of military service and distances from home, but tend to suffer from guilt complex. They feel that they have failed their parents or family. Earlier joint family system took care of many such exigencies.
  • ·       The search for recognition is one of the pursuits which all human beings indulge in and continuously strive for. The same is equally applicable to soldiers. They draw strength to face privations from the love and respect that their countrymen extend to them. Conversely, they are very sensitive to unfair and ill-informed criticism. They wonder if the nation recognises their services and values them. It causes immense despair to them. Consequently, their capacity to withstand adversities suffers.

STUDY CONDUCTED BY: COL AK MOR, 2019-2020

Military duty is considered as one of the most stressful jobs in the world.

The life expectancy of army personnel has been found to be much less than the civil employees of central government.

In addition to this many personnel have been affected by hypertension, heart diseases, psychosis, neurosis and other related ailments.

One of the primary reasons for such incidents is increasing organisational stress in Indian army due to deployment in Counter insurgency/counter terrorist environment.

Stress is the foremost outcome of any situation which entails lack of fit, conflict, restrain and/or anxiety.

Under prolonged stress, individuals tend to behave illogically and irrationally.

There is rising trend of mental illnesses and loosing mental balance among soldiers in Army over the last few decades.

Armed forces personnel being drawn from same society, rigorously trained physically and mentally both, sometimes not attuned to deal with highly tensed situations in unique operational and environmental stresses, which are resulting in increasing incidents of psychological disturbances.

Despite being the most stressful job when compared professionally, the Indian army has remained an under researched group.

Prolonged deployment in field and high-altitude areas, fear of death, separation from families, lack of control over task, hardships involved, lack of opportunity for change of routine, improper sleep/rest are few challenges faced by an army person makes his/her life more challenging.

Studies conducted on US military have found that active-duty military men have highest days of low health related quality of life outcomes, lack of good mental health, pain, depression, anxiety, lack of adequate rest, and lack of adequate energy levels are few to count as compare to a common man.

It has been recognised that as the strongest stressors followed by role conflict, insufficient consciousness concerning profession, work load and job pressure, uncooperative colleagues, role ambiguity and unproductive management style.

Stress as a term is known to have been used during 14th and 15th century, but it had very little to do with psychological state, as we understand today.

Indian army personnel have to always remain battle ready/ operationally committed and face no war no peace scenario throughout their service. All living conditions are different.

In peace all amenities like accommodation, proper Cantts etc are there.

In field and high-altitude areas officers stay in temporary shelters and basic amenities like electricity, proper food etc are affected.

There is loneliness and operational stress and pressure in field areas along with family separation.

Weather conditions in High Altitude areas are very challenging from health aspects since oxygen levels are very low and extreme cold climate throughout the year like at Nathu La which is about 14000ft and Siachen Glacier at 18000ft makes life tougher and challenging to survive.

Field areas also include places like Kashmir where army is fighting terrorism and line of control where there is daily firing and bomb blasts and with technological drones used by enemies throw a bigger challenge.

In forward areas, especially in CI/CT/LC environment, personnel’s experience severe isolation, due to confinement to defined location, restrictions on movement, restriction on interactions with civilians, the difference of the local population or lack of communication with the locals due to language problems. There are also restrictions on the way for communication for communicating with families at home. This social separation creates a sense of isolation amongst personnel’s, which in turn generates stress.

Some of the stressful incidents faced my army officers are:

Frequent Dislocations: Combat units in Indian Army have alternate tenures in field areas and at peace stations, implying dislocation after every few years. Officers and troops also have to move on tenure postings to various headquarters, training establishments and Assam Rifles/ Rastriya Rifles. Dislocation also occurs when one is required to move out for attending training/ professional courses at various training institutions. Besides hassles of packing, unpacking and waiting again for allotment of accommodation at the new station, these frequent dislocations of Army personnel adversely affect the education of their children and their spouse’s ability to take up/ keep jobs, despite having adequate qualifications. These dislocations, therefore, create stress amongst many Army personnel and

their families.

Deficiencies in Married & Separated Family Accommodation: Presently there is an acute shortage of married and separated family accommodation in Indian Army, especially in Class A and Class B cities, where better educational facilities are available. While waiting for allotment of accommodation, Army personnel go through a harassing experience trying to accommodate their families and household luggage. Also, unlike other central civil services, Army personnel are not allowed to retain their accommodation at the last station when getting posted to field/ CI/ CT areas. Non-availability of accommodation generates stress amongst affected personnel and adds on to the cumulative stress induced due to harsh conditions under which these personnel are required to serve.

Inadequate Education Facilities: Frequent dislocation of Army personnel adversely affects children education. Many times, Army personnel find it very difficult to obtain admission for their children at the new station. Since Army personnel are required to vacate Govt accommodation even when getting posted to CI/ CT/ field areas, it invariably requires them to shift their children to some other schools. This process of frequent shifting of schools and running around for admissions, not only affects children’s education but generates a significant amount of avoidable stress amongst Army personnel.

Inadequacies in Psychiatric Help and Treatment: Presently there are no professional counsellors posted with Army units and formations. Psychiatric help and treatment are available only in select military hospitals. There is a stigma associated with an officer seeking psychiatric help/ treatment. This makes the affected officers shy away from seeking timely psychiatric help, thereby further aggravating their condition.

Personal Stressors

Personal Traits: Personality traits of every individual affect the level of stress experienced by him in different situations. A person who is enterprising, cheerful, social and has faith in his abilities, is likely to feel lesser stress than a person who is introvert, non-communicative or not confidant about his ability to deal with the situation. The power of each individual to tolerate uncertainty and fear, and rationally analyse a situation, seriously affects

the level of stress experienced by him. In CI/ CT and LC operations, the uncertainty of the situation and a high degree of threat to personal safety greatly accentuates the stress experienced by all Army personnel operating in it.

Stress of Distress: Each officer has a different stress tolerance level. When under stress, he tries to get out of it. If he cannot get out of it, he may get distressed and resort to in disciplined or irrational behaviour. Elaborating the thinking process of the distressed soldiers in World War I, British Psychiatrist Dr Peter Tyrer writes, “Duty and instinct were in conflict, and at times instinct won. Enough is enough. I can no longer tolerate the stress you are putting me under and I am going to take independent action, his conscious mind was not involved in what he was doing”. This is how the stress of distress gets generated, resulting in irrational behaviour. Use of violence, running amok, and even suicide can be the outcome of the stress of distress.

Threat to Life & Limbs: The threat to personal safety and well-being goes against basic survival instinct of every individual. This results in ‘fight or flight response’, with the body automatically releasing certain hormones. This ‘fight or flight response’ puts the soldier in a high state of alertness. In CI/ CT/ LC operations, where troops remain in danger for prolonged durations, it results in chronic stress. Suffering from Depression, Sexual Dysfunction or some Disease. If an individual is suffering from mental depression and lack of mental robustness or long drawn disease or has an apprehension of sexual dysfunction, he may find the rigours of CI/ CT/ LC operations and the uncertainty of the situation unbearable as his stress will get compounded.

Role Related Stressors

Role Incongruity: In CI/ CT operations, Army personnel are often required to perform tasks which are incompatible with their established role, image, military values and code of conduct. This is particularly true in the process of gathering intelligence, wherein the service personnel are required to entertain petty criminals, drunkards, addicts and even members of rival groups of insurgents. Similarly, the troops who are trained to see themselves as the defenders of the citizens’ freedom are compelled by the CI/CT environment to detain and question suspects, some of whom turn out to be innocent civilians. Against their basic nature, soldiers are also required to interrogate the captured insurgents/ terrorists to extract timely

information from them. This entails putting mental and physical pressure on them to eke-out the information. These acts are repulsive and hence stressful to a majority of Army personnel.

Burden of Responsibility: The leaders at all levels in CI/ CT operations carry the heavy burden of responsibility of the safety of troops under their command, the success of the mission and upholding the reputation of the unit or sub-unit they represent. Even the troops feel the stress of responsibility to perform up to the expectations, lest any of their colleagues, may lose their lives or limbs. This sense of responsibility and fear of failure generates stress amongst soldiers and junior leaders.

Role Conflict: The conflict between the need to act for safety and well-being of self, and the need to risk danger to achieve the organisational goal, causes stress at all levels. The leaders face additional role conflict and stress in the form of need to safeguard the well-being of the troops under their command, and the need to expose them to danger to achieve operational success.

Role Redundancy: Often due to lack of confidence in other officers/ JCOs/NCOs or due to greater confidence in a particular officer/ JCO/ NCO and the high stakes in the CI/CT operations, some commanders tend to assign all crucial tasks to particular officers/ JCOs/ NCOs. This results in the erosion of self-esteem and role of other officers/ JCOs/ NCOs and hence causes stress to them.

Job Satisfaction: One of the essential factors for role stress is lack of job satisfaction as a result of the inability to fulfil the basic physiological and psychological needs of soldiers. Job satisfaction requires mentally challenging work, sense of achievement, recognition of one’s contribution, sound and fair reward system, and supportive work environment. While all this can be provided in the Army, more often than not, the conservative, over conscious and parochial attitude of the leaders and their rigid adherence to the conventional methods/ techniques, denies it to the troops under their command. It results in stress, particularly amongst those individuals who are enterprising, enthusiastic and willing to risk their safety to achieve results.

Group Dynamics: In a highly cohesive group such as combat sub-unit, at times, individuals are compelled by the group dynamics to act in contrast with their basic nature and traits. Even a calm and sober person may get highly agitated on witnessing one of his comrades getting wounded or killed. When the group gets agitated/ violent, each member is likely to respond similarly, though the action may have been initiated by one or two over-agitated individuals. When the sober person participates in such an act due to group dynamics, he will experience a high level of stress as violence is against his nature.

Socio-economic Stressors

Break up of Joint Family Support System: The joint family support system has almost broken down even in rural India. The joint family support system was a boon for Indian Army. When they were posted in the CI/ CT/ conflict-ridden environment, their families at home were looked after by other members of the joint family. The nucleus family system has resulted in officer’s families being alone at home when they are deployed away. This results in officers being always worried about well-being of their families and therefore generates stress amongst troops deployed away in CI/CT/ field areas.

Family Discords/ Extra-marital Affair: Soldiers lead a very regimented life. The regular routine itself is stressful enough. While serving in the CI/ CT/ field environment, they get separated from their families, unable to visit them to share their moments of happiness, anxiety, pain and suffering. Many times, wives of soldiers are working women who have the freedom to interact with male colleagues at the place of work. This has resulted in soldiers developing family discords or their wives developing extra-marital affairs in their absence. Resultant stress due to family discords and extramarital affairs by wives adds on the existing operational stress, thereby many a time propelling soldiers towards irrational behaviour.

Rising Aspirations: Social media proliferation and exposure of families and children of soldiers to socio-economic changes taking place around them has resulted in their families having higher aspirations. The families and children of Indian Army soldiers compare themselves with perks, privileges and socio-economic condition of other Central Govt employees and their relatives. Soldier’s inability to meet these rising aspirations of his family members creates tremendous stress.

Debt/ Financial Liabilities: Today credit-based finances or loans are easily available through various financial institutions. To meet the rising aspirations of family members, many soldiers get tempted to overdraw credits/ loans, which subsequently they find it difficult to service. The stress generated due to lack of adequate finances and outstanding debt adds to the existing occupational stress.

Immediate Communicability: With the proliferation of mobile telephony, it can safely be assumed that almost all Indian Army personnel and their families have mobile phones today. Mobiles have provided the family members direct means to immediately communicate their emotions to soldiers even when they are serving away in the operational environment. This often results in immediate transfer of bitter/ unpleasant emotions to soldiers whenever any discord/ dispute/ argument happens at home. Coupled with operational & organisational stress, soldiers many a time reach tipping points.

Encroachment of Property: Like western nations, Indian society too is becoming more and more materialistic. In earlier days, society used to collectively guard the landed property of soldiers serving away in operational areas. However, today it has become challenging to protect the property of soldiers from encroachment by unscrupulous elements. Even neighbours and other family members have started encroaching upon properties of soldiers due to their long periods of absence from home. Soldiers are forced to run around Govt officials and judicial complexes during their leave. This creates a considerable amount of stress amongst the soldiers serving in the CI/ CT/ field environment.

Social Apathy: To motivate soldiers to face risks and hardships of soldiering, they are constantly fed that they are serving for the nation; that the country and the society are indebted to them; that every community holds the soldiers in the highest esteem. However, due to their peculiar service conditions, soldiers generally get cut off from the members of their local society over a period of time. When they visit their homes during leave or arrive back after retirement, they realize that society does not respect them the way they were made to believe. They find it difficult to accept the attitude of apathy/ indifference/ unaccommodating displayed by society members towards them. This hurts their self-esteem and gives rise to stress amongst Army personnel.

Miscellaneous Stressors

Social Media: social media is fast becoming a source of addiction in today’s generation. Indian Army soldiers are no different. Through social media platforms, soldiers are not only consuming a lot of negative news on a daily basis but also wasting a large amount of their spare/ rest time. Instead of communicating and interacting with each other, most remain glued to their mobile phone screens. The social media has thus been adding on to the isolation, lack of rest and mental agitation, thereby compounding the existing occupational stress.

“If you ask what is the single most key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress & tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I would still have to say”

– George Burns

Effect of Stress on Health and Efficiency of Soldiers

As explained in preceding paragraphs, stress affects both soldier’s body and mind. Stress has been recognised as a cause for a variety of illnesses and behavioural problems. However, the degree of effect of stress will be different on different soldiers as the same set of stressors can be recognised differently by different individuals depending upon: –

® Importance of stressor to an individual.

® Perception of the threat as a component of the stressor.

® Personal, social and organisational support systems available to the individual.

® Willingness on the part of the individual to do something about the state of stress.

Whenever any soldier faces too much stress for any incident or reason, he is likely to get perturbed, which may subsequently affect his abilities to perform day to day activities/ tasks. Soldiers under continuous/ chronic stress can become tired, sick, and unable to concentrate or think clearly about their duties and other military activities. Sometimes, they can even suffer mental breakdowns and develop suicidal/ fratricidal tendencies.

Some of the adverse effects of stress on health and efficiency of soldiers are enumerated below: –

  • ·       Physical Health and Fitness. Stressed up soldiers will carry a feeling of sickness, may develop associated ailments, will tend to avoid physical activities and consequently, will have reduced levels of physical fitness.
  • ·       Mental Health. Soldiers under stress may go into depression and develop tendencies to harm themselves, including suicidal tendencies.
  • ·       Psychosomatic Disorders. Stressed up soldiers may develop psychosomatic disorders, including stomach problems, heart irregularities, breathing difficulties, fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, skin problems, hypertension, ulcers, allergy, asthma attacks and insomnia.
  • ·       Decreased Performance. There would be a continuous drop in the performance of soldiers under excessive stress.
  • ·       Impaired Decision Making. Soldiers and leaders under stress will not be able to properly analyse situations/ data to make judgements or take decisions. Their decision-making abilities will get highly impaired.
  • ·       Aggressive/ Violent Behaviour. Stressed up soldiers can get easily irritated, may behave aggressively & tend to get unreasonably violent. They may get violent even with their colleagues or seniors.
  • ·       Lack of Focus/ Concentration. Stressed up soldiers and leaders are unable to concentrate on their job. They may not be able to assimilate and analyse all the information/ inputs and channelize their focus on completing the task in the given time frame.
  • ·       Low Morale, Motivation and Esprit-de-Corps. Soldiers under stress will lack the desired feeling of esprit-de-corps and display low morale and motivation.
  • ·       Lack of initiative. Since excessive stress results in lack of concentration and low morale, stressed up personnel will lack the initiative to deal with emerging or dynamic combat situations/ events/ activities on their own.

Thus, stress has profound adverse effects on the health and efficiency of Army personnel. Stressed up soldiers not only lose abilities to perform their tasks, but they may also even adversely affect morale, motivation and combat efficiency of remaining personnel of their sub-unit, if not handled professionally by their leaders. Stressed up soldiers can, therefore, seriously hamper the performance of tasks by entire sub-unit/unit of which they form part. The Raksha Mantri’s Committee of Experts on ‘Review of Service and Pension Matters including Potential Disputes, Minimizing Litigation and Strengthening Institutional Mechanisms related to Redressal of Grievances 2015’ states following in Paragraph 2.2.1 of its Report: –

“The Committee notes that there can be no comparison of the inherent stress and strain of military life with a civilian employee or others and what may be ‘lifestyle diseases’ for a common person on the street may be aggravated by stress and strain in case of military personnel. A person who is 24 hours / 365 days on call, sometimes under the shadow of gun, under a strict disciplinary code mostly away from his family, in a strictly regimented routine, cannot be simplistically compared with a civilian employee. The nature of military service denies to all military personnel a commune living with his family or in his hometown, the enjoyment of gazetted holidays and even the enjoyment of normal day to day freedoms such as the very basic liberties of life which are taken by all citizens for granted. Even in a peace area, a member of the military does not have the freedom enjoyed by private citizens, even for something as simple as going to the market, permission is required from higher authorities. Life is highly regulated by order including for matters such as breakfast, lunch, dinner or even going to the toilet or bathroom. When a person is not with his or her family, even common ailments such as hypertension or IHD or minor psychiatric illnesses or psychosomatic disorders are bound to get aggravated by seemingly insignificant incidents at the home or domestic front such as non-performance of children in school, property disputes, red-tapism in other spheres, family problems etc and such practical aspects of life in general cannot be ignored by the system by taking a highly technical and impractical approach of stating reasons such as ‘posted in peace area’ which have no link with practical on-ground realities. Even nonfulfillment of sexual needs of soldiers by virtue of being away from the spouse could contribute to rise in stress levels, and all such reasons are being conveniently ignored and the stress and strain of military life is wrongly being compared with counterparts in other professions… ”

Manifestation of Stress amongst Soldiers and Combat Units

Adverse effects of excessive/ chronic stress amongst soldiers can manifest in many ways. It can lead to impaired motivation, disobedience of orders, non-performance of tasks, increased unserviceability of equipment, poor quality of work, accidents, suicides/ fratricidal killings and desertions from Army. Some of the ways in which stress can manifest amongst soldiers and combat units are elaborated below: –

  • ·       General Discipline. Stressed out personnel will be lackadaisical in their conduct and discipline. They will generally be shabbily dressed and will not salute with pride and respect. This is likely to result in an increased number of Military Police Reports against the unit personnel.
  • ·       Drop in Performance. Soldiers under excessive stress will start showing a drop in their performance. They will begin to commit mistakes even in most routine/ mundane tasks. This is likely to manifest in unit/ subunit not being able to perform even routine tasks properly.
  • ·       Overstayal of Leave/ Desertion. Stressed up soldiers tend not to rejoin from leave in time or absent themselves from duty without leave. This is likely to result in an increased number of cases of Overstayal of leave/ desertion in a sub-unit/ unit.
  • ·       Disobedience to Orders and Insubordination. Soldiers under prolonged and excessive stress tend to disregard/ disobey orders and may show insubordination. This is likely to result in an increased number of cases of disobedience, courts of enquiries etc.
  • ·       Suicides. The most alarming manifestation of excessive stress is the increase in incidents of suicides amongst soldiers. This is the extreme step a stressed-up soldier takes when he is unable to cope with his circumstances and feels absolutely helpless.
  • ·       Fratricides. Fratricide is causing fatal injuries to own colleagues/ subordinates/ seniors. Stressed up soldiers, if not identified, counselled and handled with empathy, may become unreasonably violent on specific triggers and cause fratricides.
  • ·       Performance in Sports & Professional Competitions. Stressed up personnel will tend to avoid participating in sports and professional competitions. Their performance in competitions will generally be below par. This will result in a combat unit/ sub-unit’s poor performance in various competitions.
  • ·       Failing in Promotion Cadre/ Examination. Even competent personnel may fail/ perform poorly in promotion cadres or promotion examinations, if under acute stress. This may manifest in the disproportionate number of failures in promotion cadres/ examinations in a combat unit/ sub-unit.
  • ·       Training Standards. Soldiers under stress will tend to avoid training activities and will be unable to keep pace with desired training standards. This is likely to manifest in a combat unit/ sub-unit having lower standards of military training and unable to meet the quantifiable Key Result Areas (KRAs) set by the higher commanders.
  • ·       Alcohol & Drug Abuse Cases. To cope with increased stress, many soldiers resort to excessive consumption of alcohol or use of drugs. Over a period of time, they become dependent or addicted to alcohol/ drugs. Increased number of alcohol or drug dependent cases in a combat unit/ sub-unit may be indicative of the prevalence of excessive, levels of stress.
  • ·       Sick Reports. Increased number of personnel reporting for sick over a period of time may be indicative of excessive stress in a unit/sub-unit.
  • ·       Feigning Injury/ Self Inflicted injuries. Some personnel under excessive stress may resort to feigning injury or cause self-inflicted injuries to avoid some event/ activity.
  • ·       Maintenance of Weapons and Equipment. Units/ sub-units subjected to acute and prolonged stress will no longer take pride in the care of their weapons and equipment. This is likely to result in an increased number of weapons and equipment lying unserviceable for prolonged periods.
  • ·       Accidents. Since the stressed-up individuals are prone to causing/ meeting accidents, a combat unit/ sub-unit under stress may see a rise in the number of motor/ personal accidents.
  • ·       Quality of Work. Since stressed up personnel are unable to concentrate/ focus on their work, their team/ sub-unit will invariably produce poor quality of work.
  • ·       Morale, Motivation & Esprit-de-corps. Soldiers under stress tend to have low morale, motivation and esprit-de-corps. Morale, motivation and spirit-de-corps are the biggest human resource force multipliers when dealing with combat situations. This is likely to adversely affect a combat unit/ sub-unit’s capability to deal with dynamic combat situations, especially when dealing with the invisible enemy in CI/CT areas.
  • ·       Anger and Frustration towards Non-combatants. Stressed up combatants tend to carry a feeling of anger and frustration against the civilians/ non-combatants. They may hold them responsible for their problems/ living conditions. This is likely to result in increased\ incidents of assault and affray or acts of indiscipline/ misbehaviour when interacting with civilians.
  • ·       Human Rights Violations. Since stressed up soldiers tend to be irritable/ aggressive/ violent and generally carry perceived grudges against the civilian population, they may resort to using excessive force or indulge in violation of human rights when operating in CI/CT environment or aid to civil authorities.
  • Increased Divorces/ Family Discords. As soldiers under stress tend to be socially reclusive or obsessive and aggressive, this can result in an increased number of incidents of personnel having family discords or facing divorces.
  • ·       Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a condition characterised by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing some traumatic/ violent event. Such personnel frequently experience uncontrollable thoughts/ memories of trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions. Excess stress is likely to result in an increased number of cases of PTSD in a combat unit/ sub-unit.

Thus, the effect of stress would manifest in many ways on the health of Army personnel and their conduct both during non-combat and combat environment. Units and sub-units under stress are likely to witness an increased number of incidents of indiscipline and low morale, motivation and spirit-de-corps; adversely affecting their combat training, preparedness and capabilities.

Effect of Stress on Efficiency of Combat Units & Sub-units

Combat units and sub-units are the basic foundation bricks of Indian Army. Their performance has a direct bearing not only on the success of tactical operations but also on operational tasks. The outcome of any military operation is dependent upon the task accomplishment by combat units and sub-units involved. However, the ability of a combat unit/ subunit to successfully undertake the assigned task is directly dependent upon the sum total of capabilities of its troops and leaders; their training standards and their level of morale, motivation and esprit-de-corps. One of the major consequences of stress in soldiers is decreased performance along with a host of related negative outcomes that have an adverse impact on the performance of combat units and sub-units. As stated earlier, when stressed out, many soldiers tend to avoid training, feign injuries, report sick, avoid combat, desert, disregard orders, don’t maintain their weapons and equipment, display low morale/ motivation/ spirit-de-corps, show despaired decision-making abilities, indulge in irrational behaviour and may cause injuries to own colleagues/ subordinates/ leaders. Thus, soldiers and military leaders under excessive stress tend to lose their professional competencies to do their jobs successfully. Therefore, combat units/ subunits under prolonged excessive stress are likely to be low on combat efficiency. Such units/ sub-units would not be able to effectively deal with emerging and dynamic combat situations, requiring a high degree of initiative, situational awareness and decision making. They are unlikely to display the resoluteness necessary to achieve success under severe hazardous conditions and are most likely to get bogged down when faced with adverse situations. Stressed up soldiers and leaders in CI/CT environment may resort to unethical behaviour, violation of human rights, use of excessive force and unjustified violence. Thus, incidents of human rights violations by soldiers in CI/CT environment may not be due to inadequate training or lack of command and control, but a result of these soldiers and their leaders being under stress. Though such incidents could be far and few, however, these still can have profound adverse implications on the overall strategy of winning hearts and minds of the local population in terrorism/ insurgency infested areas. Such actions of troops/ leaders resulting from prolonged exposure to excessive stress may alienate the local people and provide inimical forces ammunition for propaganda against the Indian Army and Indian Govt. Also, such incidents may have long term implications on the combat efficiency of concerned units and sub-units. ‘Izzat aur Naam’ (respect and reputation) is a very revered and valued term for combat units in the Indian Army. Troops rally to uphold their unit’s name to achieve success in combat operations. Incidents of unethical behaviour or human rights violations directly affect the unit’s name and reputation and therefore, have adverse implications on morale and motivation of the unit’s troops and leaders. It may not be possible to quantify the overall adverse effects of stress on functioning and efficiency of combat units & sub-units, because of so many variables involved. However, as per 31st Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence (Fourteenth Lok Sabha), “the direct cost of stress for the Armed Forces could be several hundred crores of rupees per year due to man-days of work lost, cost of treatment and deaths. The indirect costs are very difficult to estimate, and include such things as impaired motivation, prolonged unserviceability of equipment, poor decision-making, poor quality of work, loss of creativity and accidents”. Soldiers under stress, therefore, should not only be closely monitored and provided with fullhearted support, guidance and counselling by their friends and superiors, but appropriate measures at organisational level should also be initiated to mitigate/ manage the stress and resultant adverse effects.

Various Coping Strategies/ Measures for Management of Stress

We have seen that stress is an integral part of every profession; that soldiering is the most stressful job in the world, and that excessive stress can cause widespread damage to health and efficiency. Since stress arises from so many factors and conditions, it may not be possible to eliminate it completely; however, we can apply certain techniques/ measures to lessen its potentially harmful effects. It is, therefore, crucial for all soldiers and military leaders to understand stress management strategies. Stress coping strategies/ measures can be grouped under the following heads: –

® Individual Strategies.

® Organisational Strategies.

Individual Stress Coping Strategies. Some strategies/ measures which can help individuals cope with the occupational stress are listed below: –

  • ·       Yoga & Meditation.
  • ·       Practising good sleep hygiene.
  • ·       Social networking and interacting with friends and relatives.
  • ·       Nutrition & healthy lifestyle.
  • ·       Interacting with religious teachers; indulging in prayers and worships.
  • ·       Behavioural self-discipline and practising stress avoidance techniques.
  • ·       Improving physical fitness.
  • ·       Participating in recreational activities.
  • ·       Cognitive therapy.
  • ·       Relaxation through biofeedback.
  • ·       Being positive and looking at each problem as a learning experience.

Organisational Stress Coping Strategies/ Measures: Some of the strategies/ measures which can be adopted by organisations to reduce stress at the workplace and help their employees cope with increasing levels of stress to maintain desired operational efficiency are given below: –

  • ·       Counselling by professional counsellors.
  • ·       Interactions with motivational speakers.
  • ·       Adequate flexibility in working hours and leave policies.
  • ·       Caring and appreciative working environment.
  • ·       Providing adequate administrative support facilities.
  • ·       Ensuring effective, efficient and inspiring leadership at all levels.
  • ·       Reducing role conflict and continually clarify organisational goals.
  • ·       Reducing ambiguity in tasks & methodologies.
  • ·       Providing necessary resources for the tasks assigned.
  • ·       Creating adequate opportunities for career growth & promotion.
  • ·       Having an effective grievance redressal system.
  • ·       Allowing participation of subordinates in the decision-making process.
  • ·       Providing adequate pay, perks & compensatory allowances.
  • ·       Providing sufficient rest, recoup and recreational facilities.
  • ·       Reducing unprofessional commitments and undignified tasks.
  • ·       Having fair and transparent policies for promotions and transfers.

AIM OF THE STUDY

Aim of the study is to explore the differences in stress and adaptability among Indian Army Officers posted in different locations.

OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF THE VARIABLES

Peace Station – A station located in an area away from the border, in the hinterland where army units are stationed for their training and peace time activities.

Field Station – A station located on the border where army units are stationed to guard the border and be ready for war.

High Altitude Station – A station located at a height of 9000 feet and above. It is a field station but the living conditions are more difficult.

Junior Rank Officer – the rank of Major and Lt Colonel have been taken as junior rank officers for the purpose of this study.

Senior Rank Officer – the rank of Colonel, Brigadier, Maj General and Lt General have been taken as senior rank officer for the purpose of this study.

Perceived Social Support – Social support is the “experience of being valued, respected, cared about and loved by others who are present in one’s life.” Those people may be friends, partners, teachers or family members. Perceived social support is an incredible asset to individuals. Even when people with strong perceptions of social support are alone, they feel maintained because they believe in the network around them. Inversely, those with low perceived social support may feel alone even in the presence of others.

Perceived Stress – Perceived stress is often defined as a condition subjectively experienced by respondents who identify an imbalance between demands addressed to them and the resources available to them to counter these demands (Lazarus, 1990).

Quality of life – Quality of Life may be defined as “an individual’s perceptions of his or her functioning and well-being in different domains of life.” (Wenger et al., 1984)

Resilience – Resilience is understood as referring to positive adaptation, or the ability to maintain or regain mental health, despite experiencing adversity. (Herrman, H., Stewart, D. E., Diaz-Granados, N., Berger, E. L., Jackson, B., & Yuen, T. (2011)

HYPOTHESES

Ho1: There is no significant difference among the stress levels of those of peace stationed, field stationed officers and high-altitude station.

Ho2: There is no significant difference among the resilience of officers in the peace station, field station and high-altitude station.

Ho3: There is no significant difference in psychopathology/ psychiatric problems among officers in the peace station, field station and high-altitude station.

Ho4: There is no significant difference among the stress levels of those of junior officers and senior officers.

Ho5: There is no significant difference among the quality of life among officers in peace station, field station and high-altitude station.

Ho 6: There is no significant difference among the perceived social support among officers in peace station, field station and high-altitude station.

Ho 7: There is significant difference in the social support of the peace station and field station officers.

SAMPLE

Purposive sampling technique was followed to obtain representative samples. 100 serving officers of high altitude, field station and peace station were selected for the study. The army unit selected safeguards the sensitive border areas. Due to security reasons the specific identity of the unit and region selected has not been disclosed here. Samples were selected based on the following inclusion and exclusion criteria:

INCLUSION CRITERIA

→ Married as well as unmarried

→ Males and females

→ Age range: 20 years – 58 years

EXCLUSION CRITERIA

→ Death of a loved one/ family member in past one year

→ Current diagnosis of severe mental illness, such as, bipolar affective disorder, severe depression, schizophrenia, PTSD.

TOOLS USED

  1. 1.  MULTI DIMENSIONAL SCALE FOR PERCIEVED SOCIAL SUPPORT – MSPSS
  • 2.  PERCIEVED STRESS SCALE – PSS
  • 3.  QUALITY OF LIFE – QOL
  • 4.  GENERAL HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE – GHQ
  • 5.  PTSD CHECKLIST: MILITARY VERSION – PCL.M
  • 6.  RESILIENCE SCALE – RS

DESCRIPTION OF TOOLS

  • ❖    The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) is a brief research tool designed to measure perceptions of support from 3 sources: Family, Friends, and a Significant Other. The scale is comprised of a total of 12 items, with 4 items for each subscale. It’s a 7-point Likert scale consisting of:

→ Each item is scored on a scale from 1 to 7:

  • ●      1 = Very Strongly Disagree
  • ●      2 = Strongly Disagree
  • ●      3 = Mildly Disagree
  • ●      4 = Neutral
  • ●      5 = Mildly Agree
  • ●      6 = Strongly Agree
  • ●      7 = Very Strongly Agree

→ SCALES

  • ●      Family: 3, 4, 8, 11
  • ●      Friends: 6, 7, 9, 12
  • ●      Significant Other: 1, 2, 5, 10
  • ❖    The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is the most widely used psychological instrument for measuring the perception of stress. It is a measure of the degree to which situations in one’s life are appraised as stressful. Items were designed to tap how unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overloaded respondents find their lives. The scale also includes a number of direct queries about current levels of experienced stress. The items are easy to understand, and the response alternatives are simple to grasp. Moreover, the questions are of a general nature and hence are relatively free of content specific to any subpopulation group. The questions in the PSS ask about feelings and thoughts during the last month. In each case, respondents are asked how often they felt a certain way. It’s a 4-point Likert scale consisting of:
  • ●      0 = Never
  • ●      1 = Almost Never
  • ●      2 = Sometimes
  • ●      3 = Fairly Often
  • ●      4 = Very Often
    • ❖    This form of the Quality-of-Life Scale (QOLS) has 16 items rather than the 15 found in the original Flanagan version. Item #16, “Independence, doing for yourself” was added after a qualitative study indicated that the instrument had content validity in chronic illness groups but that it needed an item that reflected the importance to these people of remaining independent and able to care for themselves. The instrument is scored by summing the items to make a total score. Subjects should be encouraged to fill out every item even if they are not currently engaged in it. (e.g., they can be satisfied even if they do not currently participate in organizations. Or they can be satisfied about not having children.) Missing data can be treated by entering the mean score for the item. It’s a 7-point Likert scale consisting of:
  • ●      7 = Delighted
  • ●      6 = Pleased
  • ●      5 = Mostly Satisfied
  • ●      4 = Mixed
  • ●      3 = Mostly Dissatisfied
  • ●      2 = Unhappy
  • ●      1 = Terrible
  • ❖    The GHQ-28 was developed by Goldberg in 1978 (Goldberg 1978) and has since been translated into 38 languages. Developed as a screening tool to detect those likely to have or to be at risk of developing psychiatric disorders, the GHQ-28 is a 28-item measure of emotional distress in medical settings. Through factor analysis, the GHQ- 28 has been divided into four subscales. These are: somatic symptoms (items 1–7); anxiety/insomnia (items 8–14); social dysfunction (items 15–21), and severe depression (items 22–28) (Goldberg 1978). It takes less than 5 minutes to complete. The GHQ-28 can be scored with a binary method where not at all, and no more than usual score 0, and rather more than usual and much more than usual score 1. Using this method any score above 4 indicates the presence of distress or ‘caseness’. This is a 4 – point Likert scale.
    • ❖    The PTSD checklist-military version is a self-report measure that assesses the 20 DSM-5 symptoms of PTSD. The checklist monitors symptom changes before and after the treatment, screening individuals for PTSD and making a PTSD diagnosis. The assessment is 17 questions that are answered on a scale from 1 -5. This is a 5- point Likert scale consisting of:
  • ●      1 = Not at all
  • ●      2 = A little bit
  • ●      3 = Moderately
  • ●      4 = Quite a bit
  • ●      5 = Extremely
    • ❖    The 25-item Resilience Scale is the original resilience measure and considered the “gold standard” for resilience assessments among researchers around the world. It is a highly valid and reliable 25-item measure and measures resilience in any setting. It was first published in 1993 and is the first resilience assessment to measure resilience directly. The Resilience Scale measures what is going right versus what is going wrong in your life. It measures strengths rather than limitations. Evidence shows that the more resilient you are the more rewarding and richer your life will be and the better able you’ll be to handle stress. This is a 7-point Likert Scale.

PLAN OF WORK

INDEPENDENT VARIABLE (IV) – Posting of military officers

Levels of IV:

  • ●      Peace Stationed
  • ●      Field Stationed
  • ●      High Altitude Stationed

Rank:

  • ●      Junior Rank: Major & Lieutenant Colonel
  • ●      Senior Rank: Colonel, Brigadier, Major General, Lt General

DEPENDENT VARIABLE(DV) –

  • ●      Perceived Social Support
  • ●      Perceived Stress
  • ●      Quality Of Life
  • ●      Resilience
 Peace- stationed (50 officers)Field- stationed (40 officers)High- altitude stationed (10 officers)
Junior rank (Major & Lt Col)25205
Senior rank (Col, Brigadier, Major General and Lt General)25205

PROCEDURE

In the present study the sample was divided into two groups according to their rank, viz, Junior and Senior. The sample was also divided into three groups based on their area of posting, viz, peace, field and high altitude. Scales measuring stress, social support, general health, quality of life, PTSD checklist: military version and resilience were used in this study. But, the most existing scale focused on Peace and field area of posting. Data was collected through an online survey. Participation in study was voluntary and confidentiality of information was ensured. The collected data was scored and then analyzed using appropriate statistics. Due to practical constraints, lack of amenities and military restrictions, scanty data was obtained for high-altitude stationed officers. Hence, it could not be used during statistical analysis as that would compromise the findings. Final statistical analysis entailed two groups in terms of posting i.e., peace and field, and two groups in terms of rank i.e., junior and senior.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS

Specialized statistical package was used for data analysis. T-test statistics which is a type of inferential statistics have been used to determine if there is a significant difference between two groups which may be related in certain feature, so T-test was carried out between two groups viz, posting area and rank. Comparison was done in lieu of the differences in mean scores of the various groups and the findings interpreted.

Variable & Group (Posting) N MEAN + SD T-test p-value MSPSS PEACE 50 5.9404 .83811 2.345 0.21   FIELD 40 5.4258 1.23778     PSS PEACE 50 14.4200 7.29856 0.209 .835   FIELD 40 14.7250 6.32045     QOL PEACE 50 91.4800 12.83369 .695 .489   FIELD 40 89.4000 15.8072     GHQ PEACE 50 2.7600 5.50532 .522 .603   FIELD 40 2.2000 4.42139     PCL-M PEACE 50 25.1800 10.29502 .380 .705   FIELD 40 24.4000 8.82828     RS PEACE 50 149.4200 21.32651 .772 .442   FIELD 40 145.9500 20.98345        

R E S U L T

O F

R E S E A R C H

Variable & Group (Posting) N MEAN + SD T-test p-value MSPSS PEACE 50 5.5886 1.07820 1.388 .184   FIELD 40 5.8654 .98817     PSS PEACE 50 15.5400 7.25683 1.734 .086   FIELD 40 13.1800 6.32355     QOL PEACE 50 89.1200 14.72557 1.806 .074   FIELD 50 94.1600 13.14342     GHQ PEACE 50 3.1800 5.57212 1.571 .119   FIELD 50 1.6400 4.12439     PCL-M PEACE 50 25.0200 11.15840 .498 .620   FIELD 50 24.0800 7.33969     RS PEACE 50 141.8600 22.47267 3.100 .003   FIELD 50 154.3200 17.39275        

R E S U L T

O F

R E S E A R C H

Thus, from the above table it is seen that:

  • Ø  HO 1 is rejected as the computed t-value is not significant at 0.05 level. Therefore, there is no significant difference among the stress levels of those of peace stationed, field stationed officers and high-altitude station.
  • Ø  HO 2 is rejected as the computed t-value is not significant at 0.05 level. Therefore, there is no significant difference among the resilience of officers in the peace station, field station and high-altitude station.
  • Ø  HO 3 is rejected as the computed t-value is not significant at 0.05 level. Therefore, there is no significant difference in psychopathology/ psychiatric problems among officers in the peace station, field station and high-altitude station.
  • Ø  HO 4 is rejected as the computed t-value is not significant at 0.05 level. Therefore, there is no significant difference among the stress levels of those of junior officers and senior officers.
  • Ø  HO 5 is rejected as the computed t-value is not significant at 0.05 level. Therefore, there is no significant difference among the quality of life among officers in peace station, field station and high-altitude station.
  • Ø  HO 6 is rejected as the computed t-value is not significant at 0.05 level. Therefore, there is no significant difference among the perceived social support among officers in peace station, field station and high-altitude station.
  • Ø  HO 7 is accepted as the computed t-value is significant at 0.05 level. Therefore, there is significant difference in the social support of the peace station and field station officers.

DISCUSSION OF RESEARCH

As we sit peacefully in our homes with our loved ones we cannot overlook the role of an army soldier, with a huge responsibility towards the nation, we as a responsible citizens should be aware about the fact that he is safeguarding borders day and night selflessly. As a result, almost a quarter of our Indian Army soldiers don’t have healthy mental condition due to the need of their service in different harsh terrains. More than 10% qualifying for a diagnosis of two or more mental illnesses. An initiative by AWWA (Army wives welfare association) is to provide all psychological support to their families, who are staying alone and managing on their own in the absence of a son, husband and a father of a family. This clearly supports my research that a soldier is always in constant need for psychological support socially as well mentally. Many studies have recognized the fact that service personnels struggle to access mental health treatment. And often, soldier’s privacy takes a backseat to other concerns. In field station (close to borders) officers have to really look after their troops in every possible way and extensive training constantly have to be given at all times to combat with enemies. All officers posted in field areas stay away from their families and have lesser resources for social interaction due to alertness on the frontline borders and security reasons.

Here I am sharing some first-hand experiences of officers from field station:

EXPERIENCE 1:

I am an Indian Army Officer having served for 11 years in the organisation. In those 11 years I have served around 6 years in field area postings in a Counter Insurgency and High-Altitude Environment. Both the environments have few challenges to offer, which are completely different and increasingly difficult to cope up with, from each other. Following are few challenges faced by soldiers posted in those environments.

“In Counter Insurgency Environment – Counter insurgency environment offers more psychological challenges than physical ones. The enemy in this context could be a local hero or an enemy from outside country. It continuously engages you in difficult situations which may negatively impact the psychological state of a soldier which includes ambiguity with regard to aim, feelings of uncertainty, fear of ever-present danger. The continuous nature of this war has instilled the feeling of fighting a constant but futile war with our own citizens.

The polity of this environment is against you, which leads to feeling of frustration. The effect is manifolded by lack of communication with family members, being deployed in isolated posts, lack of facilities like internet, banking, sports etc.”

In my view, above experiences can be counter-balanced by the factors such as group cohesiveness, regimental spirit, constant guidance by counsellors and organisational support, which can contribute towards high morale despite the adverse psychological effects in the environment. Improving communication with one’s family members will have positive impact on the morale. Also, support from polity will improve the confidence in this never- ending war.

“In high altitude environment, the effect is more of physical and environmental constrains. As a pilot flying in this environment, one is supposed to be in control of 2 things viz aircraft that he’s flying and his own body. This envelope of environment has limitations on both the things. Aircraft in these conditions is flying at its highest limits, with no or very little margins available. Landings at forward helipads or at no helipad, always challenges the skills of the pilot. He requires special techniques, which are different than normal techniques of flying that he employs in normal sea level terrain. Pilot requires his max capabilities and skills employed in small cockpit that he shares with one more pilot. Lack of oxygen is a grave thing. One needs constant oxygen supply to fly in these conditions. If not, it is aggravated by hypoxic conditions. Visual Illusions and spatial disorientation are very common. Fatigue limits are always breached. Due to lack of experience and natural constraints, pilot is always under extreme apprehension or in doubt.”

EXPERIENCE 2:

1. Intro: I was posted in an area which was designated as high altitude and field on the LC. It was my first tenure in a field area after completing a tenure in peace area. I was mentally ready to face the challenges of field conditions which required me to be ready operationally whenever the situation demanded. With operational readiness state there were challenges also associated with it.”

  • (a)   Always Alert: As member of the armed forces serving on the LC in a high altitude at 12000ft, it was very much necessary to be always prepared for any eventuality by day/night to be operationally ready to thwart any threat. The sporadic shelling by the enemy increased the requirement to be OP ready. The dangers of trans border raids (BAT action) also caused fatigue and eventually loss of alertness.
  • (b)   No Movement: The post being cut-off mostly and especially during winters required air maint, Air evac etc. Even the helipad was located about two hours of trekking to the next post, under observation by the en across the LC. So, a constant state of no movement prevailed during the days takes a toll on mental exhaustion. The nights were harsh and cold and all the maint and repairs etc required to the post had to be done at night. This further taxed our energies.
  • (c)   Communication Problems: Since the migration of most of the populace on social media, the men of the armed forces can easily interact with their near and dear ones. But at such remote posts there is no mobile network coverage so the lack of communication eats away at the mental well-being slowly.
  • (d)   Utilization of Technology: Certain things can do away with utilization of manpower with advanced systems like motion detectors, motion triggered camera and alarm systems (which are being installed) night vision devices should be more and new and state of the art weapons and equipment.
  • (e)   Granting timely leave/relief: Giving leave on time affects the happiness quotient in the individual as he is recharged once he devotes time to his family & is available for duty with a better morale.
  • 4.  Conclusion: The challenges are diversified in field area and specially places filled with visible and ever-present threat. It is very necessary for the unit commander to understand from perspective of every man standing on duty and the challenges that he is facing and mitigate them quickly for better functioning of unit and prevailing need of alertness and pro- activeness.

CONCLUSION

From this study we can conclude that:

  • There is no significant difference among the stress levels of those of peace stationed, field stationed officers and high-altitude station.
  • There is no significant difference among the resilience of officers in the peace station, field station and high-altitude station.
  • v There is no significant difference in psychopathology/ psychiatric problems among officers in the peace station, field station and high-altitude station.
  • There is no significant difference among the stress levels of those of junior officers and senior officers.
  • There is no significant difference among the quality of life among officers in peace station, field station and high-altitude station.
  • v There is no significant difference among the perceived social support among officers in peace station, field station and high-altitude station.
  • v Therefore, there is significant difference in the social support of the peace station and field station officers.

Social support is very less as compared to peace station. As in field station (closer to the borders) officers have to be alert and vigilant most of the time. Officers stay away from there families with hardly any communication with them. Family plays an integral part in one’s life but in field areas is most important and crucial element is missing which takes a toll on the mental health of officers serving there. Its not only about social support but lacking such important element affects a person physically, mentally and emotionally.

LIMITATIONS OF RESEARCH

There are certain factors limiting the interpretability of the present study.

The current study focuses on stress and adaptability among Indian Army Officer’s posted in peace station and field station. It was a challenging task altogether right from data collection through online survey to result and statistics. Unfortunately, the study began with 3 posting areas that is peace station, field station and high-altitude station but due to insufficient data (p<0.05) to be considered for statistics the high altitude had to be eliminated from the research. Now the present study focuses on Junior & Senior Rank Officer’s posted in Peace station and field station. Owing to the sensitive nature of topic of research, Army personnel might have been hesitant to express their stress levels. It would have been better if the research would have been taken place on ground for better data collection, in spite of physical constraints I tried to put in my best to carry out this research work.

Despite all the challenges, I am glad that I could do justice to my research.

SUGGESTION

Utilization of Technology: Certain things can do away with utilization of manpower with advanced systems like motion detectors, motion triggered camera and alarm systems (which are being installed) night vision devices should be more and new and state of the art weapons and equipment.

Granting timely leave/relief: Giving leave on time affects the happiness quotient in the individual as he is recharged once he devotes time to his family & is available for duty with a better morale.

The challenges are diversified in field area and specially places filled with visible and ever- present threat. It is very necessary for the unit commander to understand from perspective of every man standing on duty and the challenges that he is facing and mitigate them quickly for better functioning of unit and prevailing need of alertness and pro-activeness.

Mental health can be counter-balanced by the factors such as group cohesiveness, regimental spirit, constant guidance by counsellors and organisational support, which can contribute towards high morale despite the adverse psychological effects in the environment. Improving communication with one’s family members will have positive impact on the morale. Also, support from polity will improve the confidence in this never-ending war.

Counselling: Regular counselling of troops is very essential for the troops deployed in the CI area. Regular counselling helps to reduce their stress and improves their physical and mental capacity and output.

Recreational activities: Organisation of recreational activities helps to reduce stress which again results in better output

Training: Training of troops to enable them to face any unforeseen situation makes them confident of handling any unknown situation. This helps to reduce the fear of unknown.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

  • v How to reduce stress in Army officers
  • v Selection of officers and their training to reduce stress.
  • v How to eliminate officers with weak psychological threshold from selection process
  • v Role of Army psychologists

REFERENCE

  • Ø  Mental Health of Indian Soldiers: A Review Article · May 2018
  • Ø  The research was undertaken during 2019-20 by Col. AK Mor, Senior Research Fellow at the USI,
  • Ø  Impact of occupational stress on employees: A glimpse of existing literature
  • Impact of Organisational Stressors on Occupational Stress in Indian Army Article · January 2011
  • Ø  Impact of Organisational Stressors on Occupational Stress in Indian Army
  • Ø  Prof R D Sharma* Dr Gurjeet Kaur** Ms Sakshi Sharma***
  • Ø  Severe Stress Among Army Personnel
  • Ø  drishtiias.com/printpdf/severe-stress-among-army-personnel

APPENDIX

MULTIDIMENSIONAL SCALE OF PERCEIVED SOCIAL SUPPORT

Instructions: We are interested in how you feel about the following statements. Read each statement carefully.

Indicate how you feel about each statement.

  1. 1.  There is a special person who is around when I am in need.
  • 2.  There is a special person with whom I can share joys and sorrows.
  • 3.  My family really tries to help me.
  • 4.  I get the emotional help & support I need from my family.
  • 5.  I have a special person who is a real source of comfort to me.
  • 6.  My friends really try to help me.
  • 7.  I can count on my friends when things go wrong.
  • 8.  I can talk about my problems with
  • 9.  I have friends with whom I can share my joys and sorrows.
  1. 10.  There is a special person in my life who cares about my feelings.
  1. 11.  My family is willing to help me make decisions.
  1. 12.  I can talk about my problems with my friends.

PSS

The questions in this scale ask you about your feelings and thoughts during the last month. In each case, you will be asked to indicate by circling how often you felt or thought a certain way.

0 = Never 1 = Almost Never 2 = Sometimes 3 = Fairly Often

  1. 1.  In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?
  • 2.  In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?
  • 3.  In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and “stressed”?
  • 4.  In the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?
  • 5.  In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?
  • 6.  In the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all the things that you had to do?
  • 7.  In the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?
  • 8.  In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?
  • 9.  In the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that were outside of your control?
  1. 10.  In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?

QOL

Please read each item and circle the number that best describes how satisfied you are at this time. Please answer each item even if you do not currently participate in an activity or have a relationship. You can be satisfied or dissatisfied with not doing the activity or having the relationship.

  1. 1.  Material comforts home, food, conveniences, financial security…………………..
  • 2.  Health – being physically fit and vigorous . . .
  • 3.  Relationships with parents, siblings & other relatives- communicating, visiting, helping . . .
  • 4.  Having and rearing children……………
  • 5.  Close relationships with spouse or significant other . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

6. Close friends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..

  • 7.  Helping and encouraging others, volunteering, giving advice…………….
  • 8.  Participating in organizations and public affairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . …
  • 9.  Learning- attending school, improving understanding, getting additional knowledge..
  1. 10.  Understanding yourself-knowing your assets and limitations – knowing what life is about.

11. Work – job or in home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. …

  1. 12.  Expressing yourself creatively . . . . . . . …. .
  1. 13.  Socializing-meeting other people, doing things, parties, etc . . . . . . . . . . . . …. .
  1. 14.  Reading, listening to music, or observing entertainment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . …. .
  1. 15.  Participating in active recreation . . . . . . . .. . .
  1. 16.  Independence, doing for yourself . . . . . …..

GHQ

INSTRUCTIONS: We would like to know if you have had any medical complaints and how your health has been in general, OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS. Please answer ALL the questions simply by underlying the answer which you think most nearly applies to you.

 Have you recently
A1Been feeling perfectly well and in good health?Better than usualSame as usualWorse than usualMuch worse than usual
A2Been feeling in need of a good tonic?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
A3Been feeling run down and out of sorts?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
A4Felt that you are ill?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
A5Been getting any pains in your head?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
A6Been getting a feeling of tightness or pressure in your head?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
A7Been having hot or cold spells?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
B1Lost much sleep over worry?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
B2Had difficulty in staying asleep once you are off?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
B3Felt constantly under strain?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
B4Been getting edgy and bad- tempered?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
B5Been getting scared or panicky for no good reason?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
B6Found everything getting on top of you?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
B7Been feeling nervous and strung up all the time?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
C1Been managing to keep yourself busy and occupied?More so than usualSame as usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
C2Been taking longer over the things you do?Quicker than usualSame as usualLonger than usualMuch longer than usual
C3Felt on the whole you were doing things well?Better than usualAbout the sameLess than usualMuch less well
C4Been satisfied with the way you’ve carried out your task?More satisfiedAbout same as usualLess satisfied than usualMuch less satisfied
C5Felt that you are playing a useful part in things?More so than usualSame as usualLess useful than usualMuch less useful
C6Felt capable of making decisions about things?More so than usualSame as usualLess so than usualMuch less capable
C7Been able to enjoy your normal day-to-day activities?More so than usualSame as usualLess so than usualMuch less than usual
D1Been thinking of yourself as a worthless person?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
D2Felt that life is entirely hopeless?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
D3Felt that life isn’t worth living?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
D4Thought of the possibility that you might make away with yourself?Definitely notI don’t think soHas crossed my mindDefinitely have
D5Found at times you couldn’t do anything because your nerves were too bad?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
D6Found yourself wishing you were dead and away from it all?Not at allNo more than usualRather more than usualMuch more than usual
D7Found that the idea of taking your own life kept coming into your mind?Definitely notI don’t think soHas crossed my mindDefinitely has

PCL-M

Instruction to patient: Below is a list of problems and complaints that veterans sometimes have in response to stressful life experiences. Please read each one carefully, put an “X” in the box to indicate how much you have been bothered by that problem in the last month.

  1. 1.     Repeated, disturbing memories, thoughts, or images of a stressful military experience from the past?
  • 2.     Repeated, disturbing dreams of a stressful military experience from the past?
  • 3.     Suddenly acting or feeling as if a stressful military experience were happening again (as if you were reliving it)?
  • 4.     Feeling very upset when something reminded you of a stressful military experience from the past?
  • 5.     Having physical reactions (e.g., heart pounding, trouble breathing, or sweating) when something reminded you of a stressful military experience from the past?
  • 6.     Avoid thinking about or talking about a stressful
  • 7.     Military experience from the past or avoid having feelings related to it?
  • 8.     Avoid activities or situations because they remind you of a stressful military experience from the past?
  • 9.     Trouble remembering important parts of a stressful military experience from the past?
  1. 10.  Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy?
  1. 11.  Feeling distant or cut off from other people?
  1. 12.  Feeling emotionally numb or being unable to have loving feelings for those close to you?
  1. 13.  Feeling as if your future will somehow be cut short?
  1. 14.  Trouble falling or staying asleep?
  1. 15.  Feeling irritable or having angry outbursts?
  1. 16.  Having difficulty concentrating?
  1. 17.  Being “super alert” or watchful on guard?
  1. 18.  Feeling jumpy or easily startled.

RS

Please read the following statements. To the right of each you will find seven numbers, ranging from “1” (Strongly Disagree) on the left to “7” (Strongly Agree) on the right. Click the circle below the number which best indicates your feelings about that statement. For example, if you strongly disagree with a statement, click “1”. If you are neutral, click “4”, and if you strongly agree, click “7”, etc.

  1. 1.  When I make plans, I follow through with them.
  • 2.  I usually manage one way or another.
  • 3.  I am able to depend on myself more than anyone else.
  • 4.  Keeping interested in things is important to me.
  • 5.  I can be on my own if I have to.
  • 6.  I feel proud that I have accomplished things in life.
  • 7.  I usually take things in stride.
  • 8.  I am friends with myself.
  • 9.  I feel that I can handle many things at a time.
  1. 10.  I am determined.
  1. 11.  I seldom wonder what the point of it all is.
  1. 12.  I take things one day at a time.
  1. 13.  I can get through difficult times because I’ve experienced difficulty before.
  1. 14.  I have self-discipline.
  1. 15.  I keep interested in things.
  1. 16.  I can usually find something to laugh about.
  1. 17.  My belief in myself gets me through hard times.
  1. 18.  In an emergency, I’m someone people can generally rely on.
  1. 19.  I can usually look at a situation in a number of ways.
  • 20.  Sometimes I make myself do things whether I want to or not.
  • 21.  My life has meaning.
  • 22.  I do not dwell on things that I can’t do anything about.
  • 23.  When I’m in a difficult situation, I can usually find my way out of it.
  • 24.  I have enough energy to do what I have to do.
  • 25.  It’s okay if there are people who don’t like me.
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