Question: I Regret Joining Army; How to Leave?


It will not be difficult for you to find out the methods of leaving the Army considering your age & service. One junior officer (ex-NDA) from my unit was keen to leave and he found a successful method. He married a foreign national without taking permission from the authorities & in an administrative action was discharged from service. Anyway, this is not the major issue I would like to write about. I will discuss about adjusting with the work environment.

Unwritten Psychological Contract

When a person joins an organisation, makes friends or marries he has certain expectations from the other party which are not written down or understood in the same sense by the contracting parties. This is the major cause of disillusionment or dissatisfaction which leads to people quitting jobs, friends & marriages. Since a person cannot have control over others’ behaviour he should try to clarify his/her expectations from the employer/friend/spouse at the earliest. It will greatly reduce heart-burning & break-ups.

No Perfect Jobs

Army is a great organisation. It gives a person tremendous scope for growth and job satisfaction. It is probably much more than one can expect in a corporate world. Please note that there are no perfect jobs. Being dissatisfied with the job means that you can change things. Please do that rather than quitting. My advice to people is to stick around till you earn your pension or your skills can get you financially much more rewarding assignments in the corporate world. Some examples:

  • Most of my flyer course-mates are much better off today flying safer civilian aircrafts at 4 to 5 times the salary that they got in the Defence Forces.
  • In the mid 1990s & early 2000 telecom boom officers from Signals similarly joined Airtel, Reliance & so on for 3–4 times their salary.

Don’t Leave Because of These Reasons!

  • You find that your boss is self-serving & not concerned about the organisation. This is no reason to leave. Please remember your boss does not represent the Indian Army. His values are not “the idea of Indian Army”. People are following him in pursuit of their narrow personal interests. You don’t have to do that.
  • You find the culture and ethos of the unit as not okay. This is perfectly fine. Cultures get formed based on the behaviour or conduct rewarded by the organisational hierarchy. Please accept this as a reality of all organisations patiently. TN Sheshan could change the culture of the Election Commission when he became the CEC. Gogoi can change the culture of judiciary only now after becoming the Chief Justice of India. Please make efforts to change things below you in accordance with your conscience and values.
  • You find corruption, sycophancy, manipulation, infighting for all competitions, awards, promotions and so on. Please don’t get overly concerned because these aspects are a reflection of Indian society. You will find these things in the civil world just as much. If you don’t have plans to renounce the world like Buddha, then stick around; Army is quite good!

No More Reasons Left to Quit?

Probably the reasons you had to quit have been discussed above. I had realised as a Captain with about 6 years of service that I was culturally a misfit in the Army. I still worked for 29 years. I left certain values with the numerous people who worked as my juniors in this very Army, in which I was a misfit, which will sustain much after I am gone. Even misfits play an important role in organisations. Please don’t quit!

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