THE GENTLEMAN CADETâ€™S INTERPRETATION OF LIDDEL HARTâ€™S THEORY OF â€˜EXPANDING TORRENTSâ€™ The mosquitoes and other insects were biting. The air was still. It was hot and humid. The undergrowth of the forest was thick and unyielding. We plodded on, Scout No 1 and me. We had a task to do! It was only a few months before we became Officers, which was our coveted goal and for which we were slogging day and night in the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. Today was a bit different, we were out of the Academy for the last few days and into the wilderness of the Raiwala Jungle. We were on exercise to put into practice the theoretical acumen that we had acquired in the classrooms and TEWTs (Tactical Exercises Without Troops) on the various Operations of War. It was only a few months to the Holy Grail â€“ Becoming an officer! We were Gentleman Cadets (GC). True the life was hard and it was a continuous whirl with hardly any time for relaxation but it was also our final term and one had to be on oneâ€™s toes as errors would mean relegation. Relegation meant becoming an officer six months later than oneâ€™s contemporaries, carrying the baggage of shame to have been left behind. Military men, after all, are trained to win! There is no time for losers! The acidic sweat rolled down and burnt the eyes as we pushed through the foliage and undergrowth. Tiresome! Yet, there was the excitement of doing things that real soldiers do! Warfighting! And this exercise was even better than before since it was a two sided exercise! We were in the phase practising â€˜Advance to Contact and Quick Attackâ€™, while the other Company from another Battalion were practising â€˜Defenceâ€™. It was â€˜liveâ€™ â€˜enemyâ€™ and not Demo troops, who had to operate as per the Book. In other words, anything could happen and it was not predictable! Ears cocked and eye sharp, both the other Scout and I tread wearily determined to best the â€˜enemyâ€™ so that our Platoon, which was following in our wake, came out winners, and we Scouts would be the one whose detection hinged success! Scouts were the linchpin as all would know for Scouts, operating in pairs had their task chalked out to see the enemy first and then observe the enemyâ€™s movement and extent undetected. The scouts also thus achieved a number of tactical goals i.e. retain the initiative, bring indirect fire to bear on the enemy, help larger units to manoeuvre and destroy the enemy, and if necessary, use direct fire to kill the enemy. Someone behind was yelling! We froze. It would surely give us away. We were close to the â€˜enemyâ€™ and any noise would reveal our intention. A total catastrophe, if you ask me. All our efforts brought to nought. Hardly the type of bottom line we wanted after all the effort and care we were putting in. Damned oaf! The voice was familiar and we were impotent to silence it. It was that of our Platoonâ€™s pet buffalo. Well, that is what he was called. In real life he was a Captain and our Directing Staff, who was supposed to be supervising us and grading us. You can realise he was hardly a help to grade us honestly if he bellowed like a lost cow as they bellow in the evening dusk, when they lose the way! What cannot be cured must be endured. Annoyed but helpless, we plodded on, carefully pushing the undergrowth, avoiding trampling on dry twigs and leaves lest they crackle and give us away. My mind meandered, as I seethed, and my gaze fell on Scout Number 1. I smiled. He was an amusing chap. A bit flamboyant, but innocent. He wanted to join the Armoured Corps. He thought thus it was fashionable to be different. He had stuck a feather in his jungle cap. However, to be fair to him, I cannot vouch that it was because he wanted to be fashionable and so fit for the Armoured Corps or was it that he wanted a better camouflage and look like a crow in the jungle â€“ the only observation I had was that he did look a crow, but a scrawny crow that seemed to borne the brunt of a crow fight! As we pushed through the foliage, there we heard a sound. We stopped and took position by lying on the ground. We commenced the â€˜listening drillâ€™. The drill done, we realised it was a genuine animal scampering away yowling unmistakable like a jackal. We rose and started again! We were moving in to where the â€˜enemyâ€™ was. There was no doubt in our minds, having done wll in the theoretical aspect of Patrolling and Scouting, given the thick foliage and undergrowth, it was assumed that the enemy would have their OPs (Observations Post) well ahead of their defences so as to raise a timely alarm. Therefore, we had to move extra cautiously so as to avoid them, or catch them unaware and make them â€˜prisonersâ€™ before they could raise the alarm. And cautious we were. The acidic sweat still poured down like rain, but we had a task to do! We were plodding through and very carefully searching ahead and keeping our ears cocked and our eyes sharp. Nothing unusual could be detected so far, though we knew we were close. The Number 1 Scout signalled me that I should take over. I closed in a quietly as feasible to take over. We halted to change Scouts and this also halted the Platoon behind us. While it was officially what we were doing was the â€˜listening drillâ€™, but in addition in actuality, it also gave us a break to overcome fatigue, more so for the Platoon following who were carrying the heavier equipment like the heaviest Radio Set ever made in history â€“ the 31 Set! As we were about to change the Scout, what happened? Lo and behold, who do we see coming in? You guessed wrong! Not the â€˜enemyâ€™, but that despicable twat, our pet buffalo came charging to check if we had gone off to sleep â€˜at the postâ€™! He merrily cracked the dry twigs and dry leaves he came barging in like a Bull in a China shop! I wondered how this poor man became an officer when he was stone deaf and knew so little about the basics of the army of maintaining stealth when closing in to the enemy! But then it takes all sorts to make the world! We were seething inside, but were helpless to tell this buffalo that he was waking the dead, let alone the enemy! He was furious. What were we halting for? He thought he was talking in whispers but if that was whisper, then in comparison, Mount Vesuvius erupts most silently! I could not help it, but subconsciously, my finger went to my lips â€“ the symbolic movement that signifies â€˜silenceâ€™. The man nearly burst a blood vessel! He got close to my ear, his bushy moustache ticking the membranous labyrinth of my ear, where the fibres of the auditory nerve connect the ear to the brain. Fortunately, the ear cannot laugh when tickled! With bated breath furiously erupting like a Vesuvius, he used the most colourful language that only the Punjabi language can boast and told me to get a move on or get shafted! Under such stimulating circumstances that â€˜motivatedâ€™ me immensely, I moved on. And so did the column in my wake, while the DS went to roast and harangue someone else, in his most despicable way, in the rear of the Platoon. The man must have been a tandoori (Barbecue) cook before he joined the army. And so we plodded on for the next half hour. The humidity was getting our goat. And yet, with this long walk, tedious and time consuming, my bladder seemed to be bursting. I would have stopped normally and try the â€˜listening drillâ€™ and relieve myself of the burden and extra weight, but it would be too horrifying an experience to have a visitation once again by our Platoonâ€™s pet buffalo, euphemistically called DS. So, I started emptying my bladder on the move. I took care to positioning the â€˜emitterâ€™ 60 degree to the perpendicular so as to not soil my pants with the droplets drifting and dancing in the air! The Scout No 2 suppressed a laugh and watched in amazement and amusement, but neither missed the pace of our movement! The pet buffaloâ€™s visitation was hauntingly fresh! Suddenly, there was a horrifying yell from the undergrowth to the left where a sizeable amount of water, if you will, seemed to have descended! We (both the Scouts) rushed to the source of the audio spectrum disturbance. We rummaged the undergrowth and what do we see? It was the â€˜enemyâ€™ OP! The poor sod had goofed off after a hard night of digging without sleep! When we arrived at his â€˜postâ€™, he was sleep drunk. We clapped his mouth so that he could not shout. The Scout No 2 rushed back to inform the Platoon to take action and attack since we had got a fair idea of the enemy defence from the sleeping OP and observing thereof. However, there is honour amongst GCs as there is honour amongst thieves. We could not let him down for a failure had dire consequence; more so, with the dream of becoming an officer was just a stoneâ€™s throw away. The poor GCâ€™s (enemy OPâ€™s) pathetic eyes begging for mercy got the best of brotherhood out of us. So, while the other Scout when hotfoot to inform the Platoon, I calculated the time by which our Platoon would be ready to launch an attack, the leading section having taken up a firm base which I could see, I gave a chance to the sleeping enemy OP to alert his defence, by allowing him letting out a blood curdling yell. And then all hell broke loose! Out Platoonâ€™s war cry resounded the air. I cannot remember what the war cry was, but I am sure it must have been something quite inane. Many a feet were running in the direction of the â€˜enemy defencesâ€™ and I could see the â€˜enemyâ€™ rushing into their trenches to face the â€˜onslaughtâ€™. The mock fight on the objective was going on with furious fury, there being no better way to explain it. While this was on, the â€˜enemyâ€™ OP and I sat down to watch the â€˜funâ€™ as spectators, the OP being good enough to share a banana with Scout No 2 and me. We also got our well deserved break knowing fully well that our pet buffalo would be more embroiled in judging the attack on the objective and having no time to charge down to us. Till this day, Scout No 2 nor the â€˜enemyâ€™ OP, nor I, ever opened our mouth to tell the â€˜Untold Storyâ€™ of the miracle of Liddell Hartâ€™s military theory of â€˜expanding torrentsâ€™ and it given an ingenuous and innovative GCâ€™s twist! Oh yes, the happy ending is that we (us Scouts and the enemy OP) did make it to becoming officers and we are living happily ever after. ********************************* This and the above story are based on the same facts. The narration style is different. Which one do you think is better for the average reader and why? Or are both not worth the read? Be honest and tell me. I value your feedback so as to know the 'mind' of the reader.