The selection of right person for right job and to predict his behavior under odds has always been an intricate process. Especially, for military organizations, stakes are much higher than profit or loss. Military leaders are required to possess some special qualities, which make them different from managers and entrepreneurs.
“In Pakistan ISSB is performing the important role of selecting future leadership for defense forces of Pakistan.”
The present selection system for defense forces of Pakistan owes its origin to World War II. Before World War II the selection of officers in the British army was based on recommendations from commanding officers, interviews and written examination. This system worked well till there was a large supply of good human resource and minimal attrition.
During World War II the source began to dry up quickly with increase in number of casualties and system became ineffective to handle large number of candidates who could meet the rigorous training and harsh field requirements.
In 1942, Britishers took the revolutionary step by establishing the new type,War Office Selection Board. These boards employed more scientific and modern methods of selection based on extensive research and experimentation. In the new set up, selection board comprised of a president, psychologist and a military testing officer. The board conducted two to three days examinations and only selected the best suitable candidates. This new set up became instrumental in identifying the potential officers and screening out undesired candidates. In the war scenario, these boards made their mark by stimulating a continuous flow of good material to the army and so won the confidence of Royal Army.
In February 1943, the British established first such board in India after bringing some changes according to local environment. At the time of partition two such boards came to the share of Pakistan and started functioning at Rawalpindi.
In 1952, the two boards were amalgamated into what we now call as Inter Services Selection Board, commonly known as ISSB and it was established at Kohat. Later with the increase in induction in Pakistan defense forces due to the changed threat scenario, two ISSB detachments were opened in Gujranwala and Malir in 1984 and 1987 respectively. To encourage candidates appearing from Baluchistan a mobile detachment was also established for Quetta in 1999.
ISSB is fulfilling the sacrosanct responsibility by selecting potential officers, for the defense forces of Pakistan. The present capacity is to test a maximum of 450 candidates for a batch of 5 days (including the arrival day), thereby having capacity of testing about 35,000 candidates in a year.
Besides selection, the existing system is evaluated time and again by conducting regular analysis and follow up studies. This helps in bringing a continual improvement in the selection system and improving the selection standards. The reliability of the selection system can be assessed from the fact, that wastage ratio in different academies is around 7.3% only.
ISSB set up is organized in a manner that facilitates smooth functioning of various elements and exercising proper command and control. President ISSB commands the functioning of ISSB. At ISSB Malir and Gujranwala President is represented by a commandant each, who controls functioning of his detachment on behalf of President.
ISSB follows a three dimensional selection process. The psychologist dimension uncovers the unconscious of the candidate through carefully designed tests. The GTO dimension observes the candidates behavior in a group through situational tests while the Deputy dimension analyses the candidates’ intellect, emotional pattern and social behavior through interview.
In the selection process each of the three selectors arrives at an independent and isolated conclusion regarding candidates’ potentials. During the selection process each member of the board enjoys equal weightage as an expert of his field, irrespective of his rank and seniority.
The Big Picture
This is how the final picture of a candidate emerges reflecting three dimensions of his personality. The Board then decides about the final result and either recommends a candidate for further training or decides not to recommend a candidate being un-fit for military training. The results are communicated to respective services headquarters who make the final merit list and thus a fresh batch of cadets reports to their academies at time and date set by the respective services headquarters.