IAF’s new salute norms cut not much into Army hierarchy

An Army Colonel drives into an IAF station. He gets a smart salute from the IAF sentry at the gate. But soon the officer stops his vehicle, furious. He gives the sentry a dressing-down.

While the Army officer took offence to the way the IAF sentry gave him a salute, the Air Force rulebook had allowed the sentry to salute the officer the way he did — he was ensconced on his chair and saluted from that position. The Colonel, however, did not know that the IAF had allowed new norms for saluting senior officers in the services.

In March 2006, IAF had issued new salute norms to its personnel. The new rules allow them to salute superiors irrespective of their (juniors) dress and physical position. Even if a soldier is in civvies and even if he is seated or driving—he can salute his officer, say the new rules.

Earlier, the practice was a soldier could give a salute only when he is in proper uniform, which includes wearing a headgear, too. If not in uniform, he could just "brace up" when he sees his superior.

"It would have come as no surprise to me if the sentry had saluted the Army officer from his bed,'' said the security officer of the IAF station, where the incident had taken place. The Army officer had called for an explanation from the IAF security officer after the incident.

According to IAF, the new rules were put in force as airmen were found using the previous norms "as an excuse not to salute". "The airmen would very smartly take off their caps and simply ignore any senior passing by. Now, they cannot do that," said an IAF officer.

The Army, however, still maintains the traditional style of saluting a superior. If not in a proper uniform, the junior only braces u— - he stands in attention and greets the senior with a Jai Hind or Ram Ram.

Defence spokesperson for western region, Wing Commander T K Singha, said: "The new salutation of the IAF is a more convenient and smarter way of showing respect to seniors. It is no way derogatory, disrespectful or discourteous to seniors in the IAF or those in any other service. It has been incorporated after being approved by highest authorities. Some officers in other services may be unaware about the latest change."

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