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The Art of Man Management at Jammu Army Camp

—Colonel R D Singh

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.
—George Washington



At the helm of Jammu Transit Camp

In the year 2005, I was commanding the Jammu Transit Camp – the largest army transit camp of the country located at a place of prime military importance. It caters to nearly 5000 troops daily, including 70 to 80 officers and families, who stay here on their way to the Northern Command. At times when the Srinagar highway closes due to rains and land slides, the occupancy of the camp goes up to even as high as 8000!

The Challenge of 100% satisfaction

Despite limited staff, we were committed to ensure at least 90 per cent satisfaction level of troops, if not 100. But the larger challenge was that it had to be achieved within 24 hours as troops normally stay here only for a day before moving out to their units, or to their homes on leave. We had to make them comfortable and provide a high quality of life, with facilities such as good food, clean toilets, recreation facilities, and a place to worship.

How did we achieve this?

I decided to give – give every minute of the day, every ounce of my energy, and every drop of sweat to my command. My wife contributed her bit wholeheartedly too by taking care of the emotional side of the families, and their children. At all times I approached the enormous task through meticulous planning.

Keeping the team motivated

I began with my permanent staff which includes about 80 people including two officers. Together, we had to be a well knit team because nothing happens individually. I gave them a motto – ‘We are the best’. Apart from the permanent staff, the team had about 200 defence civilian staff too, mostly cooks, safaiwala, washermen, and other tradesmen. I had to gel them with our team, to charge them up with the same ethos and motivation.

I joined my men to do exactly what they do

sweep the roads, help in the kitchen , run the laundry. Being the commander of the camp, you may find this unbelievable. However to be honest, I did it in total sincerity to impress upon dignity of labour, and to assure my team that I was with them throughout. The result was magical. They remained punctual, worked even late hours during visits by senior officers, and best of all, felt a belonging to the Camp. I never missed a chance to acknowledge their good work to give them a sense of achievement.

Fostering a culture of service and giving

Beyond the call of our duties, we ensured adequate activities that kept our morale and commitment towards service high. We held blood donation camps, and at one time, gave 205 units of blood to the Jammu Medical College. We participated in multiple rescue operations, and donated in kind to orphanages. As a welfare measure, every Sunday I coached our JCOs and Jawan’s children for a better future. This made the Camp well-knit like a family. It was only with my army and civilian teams integrated, that I could reliably and satisfactorily serve our occupants – 5000 transients who stayed in the Camp at any given point of time. Any slip-up in terms of our effort for the few hours they stayed with us would mean immediate dissatisfaction and a negative on the reputation of my camp.

A Day’s Work at Jammu Transit Camp

Guests are received at the gate with a hot cup of tea and snacks. After quick documentation, which is fully computerised, they are guided to their fully furnished barracks totally equipped with beddings, TV set, desert coolers, water coolers, and back up power supply. After a relaxing bath the Jawans proceed to the fly-proofed dining halls (total of 8 dining halls) where they are served sumptuous hot food at their tables, with purified drinking water, as they would enjoy watching their favourite programmes on a large LCD TV over lunch.

After a hearty meal, the central facilities offer many more worthwhile activities. The facilities of the Camp include a motivation hall with a corner for each formation of Northern Command, rail reservation counter (PRS), central MI Room, a shopping complex for daily needs, an AC barber shop, CSD Canteen, cyber cafe, etc. There is also an arrangement with Jammu railway station (Air Line Concept) by which railway announcements are heard in the waiting hall, in real time. Hence, the troops don’t have to wait at the railway platform for hours. They are taken to the railway station just 30 minutes before the departure of their trains.

In the evenings, you find the sports complex humming with the troops. They play a variety of sports including basket ball, volley ball, badminton. The gymnasium is also abuzz with the guests enjoying its facilities. Time permitting, I enjoyed playing basketball with them. In between the games we had informal exchanges of news about their units and welfare of their families.

After games, we would communicate directly with all the transients present in the Camp. During the central roll call, I would take the opportunity to directly communicate and know their feedback and seek suggestions for further improvements in the camp. I would also give away prizes to my staff who have done an excellent piece of work, as also to select transients for innovative suggestions. The session also includes a slot where a yoga teacher makes them practice simple yoga asans and pranayam. The troops love this relaxing session, and leave totally destressed. Thereafter, I hold a coordination conference with the key appointments to take stock of the day and plan for the next day. This keeps every one on the same grid.

After early dinner, there is a movie of their choice in the Camp open air theatre, where they have an entertaining time with their favourite bollywood stars. After a good night’s sleep, and a hearty breakfast the next morning, rejuvenated and happy, it is time for the transients to depart in their respective convoys to their units in the valley. As I wave bon voyage to them, the new day begins with welcoming a fresh set of 4000-5000 transients. We are again at their service to meet their aspirations. After all, this is “Home away from home.”

The Jammu Transit Camp and its superior levels of service is a widely spoken benchmark for excellence in man management and quality of life offered to troops and their families. Among many dignitaries, The Governor of J & K, Lt Gen S K Sinha (Retd.), visits the Camp to see its transformation, recalling the time since he visited it as a Captain. The sadbhavana teams, students, and even journalists undergoing defence orientation courses visit the Camp, to see the high quality of life of the troops and also study how a handful of people can manage 5000 guests so efficiently.

It is not a matter of surprise that the Jammu Transit Camp is the first in Asia to be awarded the prestigious ISO 9001 certificate for achieving international standards in administration and security.

I left the Camp in February 2008 at its pinnacle. I am sure since then it has scaled new heights.

I realize that everything is possible if we totally focus towards our goal, with noble intentions. There is no substitute for leading by personal example and thorough communication. Once the job is well done, the reward is unique — the respectful smile on the face of the Jawan.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

About the Author
Colonel R D Singh (Retd.) is a decorated soldier from Pilimandori, Fatehabad (Haryana) — the Saharan family. His entire family is devoted to the service of the people. They also take keen interest in their village, and guide the youth to lead a better future. Col Singh is a prolific writer.


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