I am attaching an article on the institution of Col Comdts. It is bound to generate a great deal of debate. The article can be accessed at Click here
You may consider its circulation please.
Colonel Commandants: An Archaic and Parochial Institution
by Major General Mrinal Sumana, AVSM, VSM, PhD
The concept of Colonel Commandants (Col Comdts) dates back to the 17th century when Colonels (both in rank and appointment) were the original owners and field commanders of their units (regiments). With the evolution of the concept of field formations in the early 18th century, these units lost their independent entity and were grouped into various tactical formations. Gradually, the Colonel lost his executive powers and the units came to be commanded by the duly selected commanding officers with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Subsequently, the Colonel became a mere figurehead with advisory functions only.
All regiments, which originated as a single tactical unit (infantry/cavalry), still have a ‘Colonel’ as head of the family, whatever be the size of that family now. Other corps/regiments, which originated as groups of tactical units, have Col Comdts. The number of Col Comdts is determined by the overall strength of the corps/regiment. Their selection is carried out by the respective regiments through secret ballot.
A Colonel Commandant is not involved in the operational affairs of his units. He is considered a ‘conscience keeper’ of the regiment and a guardian of regimental traditions. He is like a father figure whose basic duty is to foster esprit-de-corps and render mature advice when required. As he is expected to look after all aspects of welfare of his regimental troops, he must be of sufficient seniority to deliver. In case a regiment does not have any of its regimental officers in higher ranks, it can request a non-regimental officer to hold the mantle.
The aim of this article is to take a look at the relevance of this institution in the present day environment. With mushrooming of senior appointments, every regiment is well represented at higher ranks. Therefore, are the crutches of a Col Comdt necessary for a regiment to get its due? As the issue is of vital importance to the health and well-being of the army, an open and honest debate is warranted.
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