Answer ( 1 )

  1. All of the existing answers paint one side of the picture, which is that of how the nation perceives the Army in Pakistan. The other side of the picture is what it is exactly like to be serving in the Army. So issues of pride aside, life in the Army is actually hard. It is hard for the officers and men alike.

    When young officers pass out from the Pakistan Military Academy (which runs a very hectic military and educational routine for 2 years), they are posted to various arms (Infantry, Armoured Corps, Artillery, Engineers and others) and over here their training continues. At this time most officers are bachelors and are not beholden to staying put in one place as they are rotated to different units (aka postings) to give the officers a variety of experience.

    As the officers mature, they are sent to hard and soft postings – hard posting would be something like serving in the FATA where active combat operations and rotations are going on for the past many years or Siachen glacier – one of the most desolate and remote military rotations anywhere in the world or along the LoC or at areas which are very remote and not conducive to family living. So far so good. Most are pretty excited about building their careers so attending young officers courses, serving in their units and training with other ranks (JCOs/NCOs and ranks) are the primary focus.

    Once the officers enter a phase where they get married and have families then things start getting tough. The Army constantly needs to rotate officers and their units through various training cycles and also through different deployments if operations are ongoing. This means that both the officers and men not only have to spend a considerable amount of time training for deployments, but they are also spending a lot of time away from their families (many come from joint families where parents and spouses live together and in many cases they have to leave their spouses behind due to lack of appropriate family accommodations/housing). If the officer has children and gets a hard station (all officers serve in family-friendly and not so family-friendly stations), then its all the more difficult because remote postings may not offer decent schools and it is very challenging for the working/non-working spouses and the children to be periodically uprooted from their jobs/schools and taken to new places (this is a common issue for most professional armies).

    In times of national emergencies such as tensions on the Pakistan-Indian border, officers and men are deployed to forward positions along the borders for extended duration and its not very easy to take time off to visit family. So while the personnel are deployed, all of the issues and stresses related to family life have to be put on hold or handled by someone else burdening the military families further.

    Also being an all volunteer professional Army, this is a very competitive place. Annual performances and confidential reports are taken very seriously so the officers and men alike have to make sure that their personal issues are not getting in the way of their professional obligations.

    In addition, most officers do not have permanent accommodations for their families as they are being posted around. When most retire in their 40s, they are having to contend with all of these issues as well as trying to land jobs in the private/government sector. They go searching for jobs with an experience/skillset which is very specialized and not easily transferrable to the civilian side aside from having general management/leadership skills. Some have a more relevant skill set having served in the Corps of Engineers, Army Medical Corps, or the Army’s Directorate of C4I where skills learned can be applied outside in the public/private sector. So all in all its a mixed bag.

    The plus is that it is indeed an exciting calling. Its competitive to get in and those who make it do like their profession otherwise they would not be in the Army.

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