Topsy-Turvy “Military Logic” : Education Destroys Leadership Qualities



Topsy-Turvy “Military Logic”

Ramblings of a Retired Navy Veteran




Life is funny.

Life is full of contradictions.

And this is more so in the military — where there is plenty of humour in uniform.

For example — in the 1970’s — when I joined the Navy — I realized that — in the Navy — your career prospects are inversely proportional to your education.

Yes — believe it or not — it was strange logic — but it was true:

The higher your qualifications — the lower was your status in the hierarchy.


When I joined the Navy :

I found that the officers at the bottom of the heap were the most highly qualified Post Graduates (M.Sc./M.Tech.) who land up as “Education Officers” (called “Schoolies” in Navy Jargon).

These “Schoolies” were landlubbers — who ended up teaching the basics of Algebra and Geometry to Sailors.

In the Middle Rung of the Officer Status Hierarchy — we had the “Technical Officers” — who were Engineering Graduates (BE/B.Tech.)


Lording over the Technical Officers and Schoolies were the “Matric-Pass” Executive Officers — who were the Prima Donnas — and these officers with the lowest educational qualifications had superior status vis-à-vis their more educated counterparts.


In the Army — the situation was even worse.

Lesser qualified Infantry and “Cavalry” Officers of the Arms enjoyed much better Career Prospects as compared to their more highly qualified technical counterparts of the Technical Arms and Services.

In fact — infantry officers totally dominate the higher army leadership — and it is common knowledge that — in most cases — officers of other arms/services are better qualified than infantry officers.

The Command Exit Model Promotion Policy introduced in 2009 further tilted the balance in favour of the Infantry.

So — even today — in the Military — Educational Qualifications are Inversely Proportional to Career Prospects.

Do Military Top Brass really believe that Education destroys OLQ (Officer Like Qualities)…?

Let me take you back to my early days in the Navy.

There was a grand old Admiral — a distinguished sea dog and war veteran who had served with distinction both in war and peace.

You will be amazed to hear what he used to always say to us.

The Admiral always said that:

“Too Much Education Destroyed Natural Leadership Qualities”.

His view was that:

“too much education hampered the inculcation and development of Officer Like Qualities (OLQ) — which was the sine qua non of military leadership”.

He would say:

“Education is not conducive to OLQ” — since — “Education makes Officers think and analyse too much”.



This paradox exists in the civilian world too.

Everywhere in administration — Generalists Prevail over Specialists.

Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officers are at the helm of affairs in all types of organizations ranging from Airlines to Electricity Boards to Public Sector Units to Port Trusts to Financial Institutions.

Yes — you will see generalists lord over specialists in all places — in most government organisations — and even in the corporate sector — where generalists head technical and operational entities even if they have no expertise.

Some IAS officers are even appointed as Vice Chancellors of Universities.

Yes — it seems that IAS Officers are truly the “jack of all trades” — you name any type of government organization — and you will find an IAS Officer heading it.

In many places where anti-intellectualism prevails — like in the military and civil services — if you are highly educated and specialized — you are considered a “boffin” — or an “egghead” — a “geek” — or a “nerd” — who is unfit for leadership roles.

Do you agree with what the grand old Admiral used to say…?

Does Education really Destroy Natural Leadership Qualities…?

Does Education hamper the inculcation and development of Officer Like Qualities (OLQ)…?



This is an abridged, updated and revised version of an article I wrote many years ago in our in-house journal as a “Humor in Uniform” piece — and — surprisingly — it was well-received and appreciated by most senior officers including my boss.

The Navy always had better educated officers than the Army.

Even for the National Defence Academy (NDA) — Navy Cadets have to be Maths-Physics Science Students at the 10+2 Level and study for a Science Degree in NDA — whereas for the Army– it is okay if you do not have any Science background and are an Arts student since you have to study for an Arts Degree at the NDA.

Now — all Navy Cadets are being awarded the B. Tech. Degree in Engineering on completion of their Training at the Indian Naval Academy (NAVAC/INA) — and NDA is following suit for Navy Cadets — in order to bring NDA Navy Cadets on par with NAVAC/INA Cadets.

Maybe the Navy has realised that in today’s and futuristic Technology-Intensive Military Warfighting Scenario — the good old “Education Destroys OLQ” dictum is no longer valid.

But — it seems that — the Army continues to “Bash on Regardless” — with the “Education Destroys OLQ” motto — and — it will be the Infantry Officers who will dominate and rule the roost over the higher qualified Officers of the Technical Arms and Services — and — the BA will continue to have better career prospects than the B. Tech.

Think about it !!!



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1. This blog post is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.

2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Abridged, Updated and Revised Version of My Post EDUCATION and OLQ (Officer Like Qualities) posted online earlier on Feb 8, 2014 by me Vikram Karve in Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog at url: and and and and etc

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A creative person with a zest for life, alumnus IIT Delhi, Lawrence School Lovedale, Vikram Karve is a retired Navy Officer turned full time Writer and Blogger