Humor in Uniform – The Mystery of the Military Medical Category


Doctor’s Orders


A Fictional Spoof



MEDICAL CATEGORY – A Spoof by Vikram Karve

During my long service in the Navy – I “enhanced” a lot of things.

I enhanced my academic qualifications.

I enhanced my knowledge.

I enhanced my expertise.

I enhanced my world-view.

I enhanced my personality

And – I even enhanced my physical attributes – especially my weight.

But – the one thing I could not enhance was my “medical category”.

When I joined the Navy as an Officer – my Medical Category was “S1 A1”

And – when I retired from the Navy – more than 34 years later – my Medical Category was still “S1 A1”

I could not achieve even a small “incremental enhancement” in my Medical Category – even temporarily.

Not even for one moment could I achieve a slightly “higher” Medical Category like “S2 A1” or “S2 A2” – of course I never dreamt of achieving greater heights like “S3 A3” “S4 A4” or “S5 A5”

Throughout my entire Naval career – my Medical Category remained consistently constant at “S1 A1” – the “lowest” Medical Category.

By strange military logic – if you achieved a “higher” Medical Category like “S2 A2” “S3 A3” “S4 A4” etc – the Doctors said that you were in Low Medical Category (LMC).

How can “S1 A1” be High Medical Category – and – “S3 A3” be Low Medical Category…? 

Is the number 3 lower than the number 1…? 

But then – Mathematics has never been a strong point of Doctors – even at 10+2 level – Mathematics is not required if you intend studying Medicine.

The only time I was hospitalized – towards the end of my career – was for Malaria – and I thought they would “enhance” my Medical Category – to “S2 A2” – maybe to “S3 A2” – or even to “S3 A3” – or even higher.

But nothing happened.

After a couple of days – when my Malaria began to abate – and just I was beginning to enjoy my stay in hospital – they suddenly discharged me – and threw me out of the hospital – straight back to work – as they were short of beds due the sudden arrival of a few “serious” cases.

And – while discharging me unceremoniously from hospital – the Navy Doctors did not even have the courtesy or decency to enhance my Medical Category.

So – I remained in my lifelong “lowly” and unimpressive Medical Category of “S1 A1”

Yes – I remained a lowly “S1 A1” from “womb to tomb” (to put it metaphorically).

Well – if there is a Navy Doctor reading this – maybe he will be able to explain the significance of medical categories ranging from “S1 A1” to “S5 A5” – with all permutations and combinations like “S2 A1” “S2 A2” “S3 A2” etc etc


The Army likes to do things differently from the Navy

So – the Army have named their medical categories from SHAPE 1 onwards to SHAPE 5 :–


And – there are even more possibilities for permutations and combinations in Medical Category like “S1 H2 A3 P4 E5” etc etc – to make it all the more confusing for Army Officers – who are most confused anyway.

Now – this Army Medical Category called SHAPE has nothing to do with the “shape” of your body.

This is evident from the fact that you will see many “Out of Shape” Army “Pongos” in Medical Category SHAPE1

Will some “Fauji” Doctor be good enough to tell us all about the Army Medical Category “SHAPE” 

And also – please enlighten us on why some SHAPE 1 “Faujis” look so much “out of shape” 


In the Air Force they call their medical categories “A1 G1” “A2 G2” …. “A5 G5” etc. 

Yes – the “fittest” Medical Category in the Air Force is “A1 G1” 

Is “A1 G1” the same as “S1 A1” or “SHAPE1”…? 

Are Aviators in the Army and Navy required to be “A1 G1”…? 

Or – is it okay if they are “S1 A1” or “SHAPE1”…? 

It is all very confusing – isn’t it…?


It is all very confusing and puzzling to me.

“Fauji” Military Doctors keep changing the colour of their uniforms 

Like chameleons – they “flit and frolic” about – between the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Basically – all “Fauji” doctors are the same – and – all of them belong to the Army Medical Corps (AMC).

I have not understood one thing.

The 3 Defence Services – Army Navy and Air Force – all have the same AMC Doctors.

Then – why does each Service have its own style of Medical Categories:

“SHAPE” for the Army

“S1 A1” “S2 A2”… etc for the Navy

“A1 G1” “A2 G2”… etc for the Air Force…?

The 3 Defence Services have the same Doctors.

But – the 3 Defence Services have different Medical Categories.

Is this one more feather in the cap of “jointmanship”…?


(The Story of the Officer with a Perpetual “Medical Category”)

“Enhancing” your medical category gives you a lot of advantages – like it did to my friend “D”.

“D” was a master at malingering.

An ex-NDA officer – on the very first day of our training – “D” was missing from morning Physical Training (PT).

When questioned about his absence from PT by the Senior-Under-Training-Officer (SUTO) – “D” answered triumphantly: “I am a “Medical Category”…”

(In colloquial Naval parlance – this meant that “D” had an “enhanced” Medical Category).

During his entire training period – his “medical category” was his all powerful universal “trump card” to be excused from any painful activity that “D” wanted to avoid – like PT, games, divisions, drill, parades, cross country runs, route marches, outward bound camps etc.

Even Senior Officers were wary of “D” because of his “enhanced” medical category – and they avoided bullshitting him – lest he drop dead or have a fit or something serious happen him – and they be blamed for it.

The biggest mystery was none of us knew what was wrong with him – no one knew for what “disease” “D” had got the medical category – from where he had got his medical category – and what exactly was his medical category.

Maybe he had managed to “enhance” his medical category at the previous training ship or unit – or maybe in NDA – or maybe even before that at the SSB – or maybe“D” was born with a medical category.

“D” looked perfectly healthy – and whenever we asked him about his medical category – he told us not to be too inquisitive.

In fact – I once suspected whether he had an “enhanced” medical category at all – but then – the way he flaunted it around – I thought that there must be some truth in it.

Of course – his “enhanced” medical category did not prevent “D” from drinking copious amounts of booze and eating all types of food to his heart’s content every afternoon and evening – or generally enjoying himself to the hilt – and having a jolly good ball of a time.

His medical category did not prevent him from getting promoted – and “D” got nominated for all the good training courses.

And – of course – he got the best of ships – and avoided all the hardship appointments – thanks to his “enhanced” medical category. 

Whenever he wanted to avoid anything inconvenient – “D” used his “Trump Card” – his “Medical Category”

Inspired by “D” – I tried my best to “enhance” my medical category – but I could not succeed – and throughout my long Navy career – I remained at the “rock-bottom” medical category “S1 A1”

Once – during my Annual Medical Examination (AME) – a Navy Doctor said that I was overweight – and I thought he was going to “enhance” my Medical Category.

But – the Navy Doctor did not “enhance” my Medical Category.

Instead – the Navy Doctor sent me in a “spin” – he made me do all sorts of medical tests – he got me examined by all sorts of specialists.

And then – the wise Navy Doctor delivered his final verdict on me: 

“Officer is Asymptomatic. He has been advised to reduce weight. Officer is fit in Medical Category “S1 A1”…”

I was declared fully “FIT” in Medical Category “S1 A1” 

Forget about “S3 A3” “S4 A4” “S5 A5” etc – I had failed to “enhance” my Medical Category even to a measly “S2 A2”

I was back to “Square 1”

I have not understood the Mystery of the “Military Medical Category”

Have you…? 


I heard a story – maybe apocryphal – about a “smart” officer who took full advantage of the medical category system. 

He was an expert at using the medical category system for malingering or shamming (in military parlance)

With the help of his doctor friends – he would keep manipulating his medical category to his advantage to avoid hardship postings. 

However – the “smart” officer ensured that his medical category was suitably upgraded just before promotion boards/criteria appointments/training courses.

This ensured that he reached high rank without enduring too much hardship. 

Thanks to his expertise in deftly manipulating his medical category – he managed to avoid tough appointments. 

He spent most of his career enjoying the best of lucrative/comfortable appointments – he got nominated to all the prestigious courses – he ensured that he got promoted on time – so that he could reach high rank. 

The “smart” officer delivered his “coup de grace” when he got his medical category suitably manipulated just before retirement – in order to claim “disability pension”.

(Disclaimer: I am totally clueless on the subject of “military medical categories” – so if you have any specific queries on the military medical category system – please contact your nearest “Fauji” Doctor)


Copyright © Vikram Karve 

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