The orderly system in Bhutan was a topic much discussed after an officer at Paro manhandled and beat up his orderly.
The Bhutanese which received a call from the orderlies to highlight their problems talked to the Goongloen (Army General) Dasho Batoo Tshering who said, “To be honest, we are planning to get rid of the orderly system but we cannot change things overnight” adding that “just because of a stray incident, the image of the whole army should not be tainted.”
The Goonglen pointed out that he was concerned about the Paro incident and that necessary and prompt action had been taken by the authorities against the officer.
“I do not want to specify the punishments as it may affect the morale of the army.”
Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) has its own legal system and a Drangpon (lawyer) who will advise the RBA on how to deal with such cases has been deputed.
Asked about an officer’s right of having orderlies, the Goonglen said that in olden times, officers used to have many orderlies who were assigned to do personal work or sent to the officers’ native places to work.
“Officers are entitled to have an orderly all over the world, “ he said, “Previously in Bhutan each army officer used to keep many orderlies as the officers reared domestic animals and also had apple orchards but now the rules prohibit these.”
At present, the orderlies are required to press the uniforms, polish boots, brass or insignias, keep the surroundings clean and pass information to the soldiers when there is no technical means of communication.
An orderly is free to choose to stay at the officer’s place or his own.
The main duty of an orderly is to look after the officer only and he is not responsible to work for the officer’s family.
Goonglen also pointed out that he as an army chief is authorized to five orderlies, lieutenant colonels are authorized to two orderlies and other officers are authorized to only one orderly.
However, orderlies who talked to The Bhutanese said they were not happy with their work because when they first decided to join the army, they dreamt of serving the Tsa-Wa-Sum by guarding the nation’s security.
“It is my sixth year in the army and I have been serving as an orderly for five years now; one year was the time I was trained in Tenchholing (Wangduephodrang). I hardly get an opportunity to wear my uniform,” said one over the phone.