The pro­posed re­forms would give the In­dian armed forces a mean, lean and smart look, al­ways ready for quick bat­tle on short no­tice.

Alive - - Revamp - by PK Va­sudeva

In a first, the gov­ern­ment on 30 Au­gust 2017 ap­proved re­forms within the In­dian Army to en­hance com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity of the forces thereby re­bal­anc­ing de­fence ex­pen­di­ture in a phased man­ner by De­cem­ber 2019 based on the rec­om­men­da­tions of the 12 Mem­bers High Pow­ered Ex­pert Com­mit­tee un­der the Chair­man­ship of Lt Gen Shekatkar (Retd).

Sig­nalling that the min­istry is ex­am­in­ing the mil­i­tary di­men­sion se­ri­ously, the Shekatkar com­mit­tee in­cludes sev­eral mil­i­tary of­fi­cers, such as Lt Gen Vinod Bha­tia (Retd), a for­mer mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions chief who now heads the tris­er­vice think tank, the Centre for Joint War­fare Stud­ies.

A sec­ond com­mit­tee has been con­sti­tuted un­der for­mer petroleum sec­re­tary, Vivek Rae, to study “the set­ting up of a De­fence Pro­cure­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion in the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia.” The com­mit­tee has sug­gested the func­tional man­date of the pro­posed pro­cure­ment body, its or­gan­i­sa­tion and staffing, and to sug­gest how au­tonomously it could func­tion.

The first phase of the re­forms in­volves re­de­ploy­ment and re­struc­tur­ing of ap­prox­i­mately 57,000 posts of of­fi­cers. The mea­sures will be im­ple­mented in a grad­ual man­ner.

“Re­struc­tur­ing by the In­dian Army is aimed at en­hanc­ing com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity in a man­ner that the of­fi­cers will be used for im­prov­ing op­er­a­tional pre­pared­ness and civil­ians will be re­de­ployed in dif­fer­ent wings of the armed

forces for im­prov­ing ef­fi­ciency,” stated in a re­lease is­sued af­ter the meet­ing of the Cabi­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity (CCS), chaired by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi.

The Shekatkar Com­mit­tee had given 121 rec­om­men­da­tions to the gov­ern­ment in its re­port on De­cem­ber 2016, out of which CCS has ap­proved the 99 and the Min­istry of De­fence de­cided to im­ple­ment 65 in the first phase.

“The net ef­fect of this is, as to var­i­ous, dif­fer­ent func­tions in the Army, as per the changed en­vi­ron­ment of tech­nol­ogy, econ­omy, com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity of the Army, how it is to be best utilised,” said Arun Jait­ley, min­is­ter of fi­nance, then in-charge of de­fence and cor­po­rate af­fairs also. The rec­om­men­da­tions are based on the threat per­cep­tion both from China and Pak­istan.

Re­source op­ti­mi­sa­tion

Un­der this, the gov­ern­ment will do away with 39 mil­i­tary farms and sev­eral Army postal de­part­ments in peace lo­ca­tions. There will be op­ti­mi­sa­tion of sig­nals es­tab­lish­ments to in­clude Ra­dio Mon­i­tor­ing Com­pa­nies, Corps Air Sup­port Sig­nal Reg­i­ments, Air For­ma­tion Sig­nal Reg­i­ments, Com­pos­ite Sig­nal Reg­i­ments and merger of Corps Op­er­at­ing and Engi­neer­ing Sig­nal Reg­i­ments.

There will also be “op­ti­mi­sa­tion” and “re­struc­tur­ing” of ord­nance and ve­hi­cle de­pots, sig­nals es­tab­lish­ments and base re­pair work­shops, sup­ply and trans­port ech­e­lons. The Na­tional Cadets Corps (NCC) will also un­dergo re­forms to im­prove its ef­fi­ciency, with re-em­ployed ex-ser­vice­men pro­gres­sively re­plac­ing serv­ing per­son­nel there.

Many more such mea­sures are ur­gently re­quired to im­prove the poor teeth-to-tail ra­tio (com­bat­ants to sup­port per­son­nel) of the In­dian armed forces, the third largest in the world af­ter China and the US. The Army, for in­stance, needs to fully raise its new 17 Moun­tain Strike Corps (90,274 sol­diers), geared for high-alti­tude war­fare with China, by 2021. “But around 31,000 of the 57,000 per­son­nel to be re­de­ployed are de­fence civil­ians,” said a source.

Apart from this, in the first phase, the gov­ern­ment will also un­der­take re­struc­tur­ing of re­pair ech­e­lons in the Army to

in­clude base work­shops, ad­vance base work­shops and sta­tion work­shops in the field Army.

There will also be re­de­ploy­ment of ord­nance ech­e­lons to in­clude ve­hi­cle de­pots, ord­nance de­pots and cen­tral ord­nance de­pots apart from stream­lin­ing in­ven­tory con­trol mech­a­nisms.

The com­mit­tee has said that if its rec­om­men­da­tions are im­ple­mented over the next five years, the gov­ern­ment can save up to Rs. 25,000 crore from the cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture. Most of the rec­om­men­da­tions are mea­sures to cut down flab in the Army to make it lean and ag­ile and in­crease co­or­di­na­tion among the three Ser­vices.

Per­for­mance au­dit

The com­mit­tee has rec­om­mended a per­for­mance au­dit of the role of non-com­bat or­gan­i­sa­tions un­der the de­fence min­istry. The or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clude those deal­ing with de­fence es­tates and ac­counts, the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Qual­ity As­sur­ance, the Ord­nance Fac­tory Board and the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The re­forms will also aim for bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of sup­ply and trans­port ech­e­lons and an­i­mal trans­port units. It will also seek to en­hance the qual­ity of cler­i­cal staff and driv­ers en­gaged with the Army.

The com­mit­tee was given the man­date to rec­om­mend mea­sures for en­hanc­ing Com­bat Ca­pa­bil­ity and Re­bal­anc­ing De­fence Ex­pen­di­ture of the Armed Forces with an aim to in­crease “teeth-to-tail ra­tio”.

The Shekatkar com­mit­tee has dis­missed the idea of re­duc­ing the man­power of the 11.8 lakh strong Army, stat­ing that the Army’s task is in the moun­tains, both against China and against Pak­istan. Ask­ing the coun­try to be pre­pared to fight “a twoand-a-half front war” — Pak­istan, China and in­ter­nal se­cu­rity — the re­port says that it has at­tempted to “re­fo­cus, re­ori­ent and re­align” the armed forces.

The re­port has asked for the thresh­old of the an­nual de­fence bud­get to be raised from cur­rent 1.7 per cent to 2.5-3 per cent of GDP.

One of the ma­jor rec­om­men­da­tions of the com­mit­tee is to re­view the def­i­ni­tion of ‘Cap­i­tal’ and ‘Rev­enue’ bud­get heads in the funds al­lo­cated to the three armed forces, par­tic­u­larly the In­dian Army. The panel notes that the In­dian Army—un­like the In­dian Navy and the In­dian Air Force—will have to re­main a man­pow­er­in­ten­sive force be­cause of its ma­jor de­ploy­ment in the moun­tains against both its ma­jor ad­ver­saries, China and Pak­istan.

As a re­sult, the sus­te­nance bud­get of the In­dian Army will be higher than the other two ser­vices leav­ing very lit­tle money for cap­i­tal ac­qui­si­tion. The panel has, there­fore, re­port­edly rec­om­mended that a ‘roll on’ plan for fresh ac­qui­si­tions be in­tro­duced so as to over­come the prac­tice of ‘sur­ren­der­ing’ funds at the end of ev­ery fi­nan­cial year.

The panel has also sug­gested a re­view of the fi­nan­cial man­age­ment sys­tem of the MoD in which the de­fence fi­nance wing is seen to be more of an

im­ped­i­ment in clear­ing projects and has rec­om­mended that the fi­nan­cial pow­ers of all the three chiefs and vice chiefs be en­hanced fur­ther to quicken the pace of ac­qui­si­tions.

As for re­de­ploy­ment and ra­tio­nal­is­ing of man­power, the Com­mit­tee has rec­om­mended that the role of non-com­bat or­gan­i­sa­tions paid for and sus­tained by the de­fence bud­get be sub­jected to a per­for­mance au­dit. Some of th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions men­tioned in the re­port are De­fence Es­tates, De­fence Ac­counts, DGQA, Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) and DRDO.

Once a pro­fes­sional and ob­jec­tive re­view is car­ried out, the com­mit­tee said, down­siz­ing or ra­tio­nal­is­ing the man­power in th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions could achieve sub­stan­tial sav­ings.

The com­mit­tee has also sug­gested the es­tab­lish­ment of a Joint Ser­vices War Col­lege for train­ing for mid­dle level of­fi­cers (the higher com­mand course for in­stance), even as the three sep­a­rate War Col­leges— cur­rently at Mhow, Se­cun­der­abad and Goa—for Army, Air Force and Navy could con­tinue to train younger of­fi­cers for their re­spec­tive ser­vice.

Sim­i­larly, it has rec­om­mended that the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence School at Pune be con­verted to a tri-ser­vice In­tel­li­gence train­ing es­tab­lish­ment.

Another as­pect high­lighted by the com­mit­tee is the in­creas­ing re­luc­tance on part of the state gov­ern­ments to re­new lease of land for cru­cial fir­ing ranges for the troops. In­creas­ing ur­ban­i­sa­tion and pres­sure on land has meant that the armed forces have to bat­tle po­lit­i­cal and bu­reau­cratic pres­sure to re­tain the ex­ist­ing fir­ing ranges.

The panel has, there­fore, sug­gested bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the MoD and state gov­ern­ments to over­come this prob­lem.

How­ever, the Com­mit­tee has also sug­gested that the armed forces ramp up the quan­tum of train­ing on var­i­ous sim­u­la­tors. The new re­cruits can do about 60 per cent of their fir­ing train­ing on sim­u­la­tors, re­sult­ing in sub­stan­tial sav­ings to the tune of Rs 20-25 crore per an­num in ex­pen­di­ture of train­ing am­mu­ni­tion, the com­mit­tee has sug­gested.

The re­port ar­gues that the four-star post, whether it is called the Chief of De­fence Staff (CDS) or Per­ma­nent Chair­man Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee (PC-COSC), is es­sen­tial for smooth func­tion­ing of the armed forces in the pre­vail­ing se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment.

This is not the first time a tri-Ser­vice chief has been pro­posed to pro­vide sin­gle­point mil­i­tary ad­vice to the gov­ern­ment, usher in syn­ergy among three Ser­vices, pri­ori­tise in­terSer­vice pro­cure­ments and man­age the coun­try’s nu­clear arse­nal.

Awaited ac­tion

Af­ter the 1999 Kargil con­flict, the group of min­is­ters’ re­port on re­form­ing the na­tional se­cu­rity sys­tem had strongly rec­om­mended a Chief of De­fence Staff (CDS) be­cause it held the ex­ist­ing chiefs of staff com­mit­tee (CoSC) had “se­ri­ous weak­nesses” in giv­ing sin­gle-point ad­vice.

The Naresh Chan­dra

Task force in 2012 had also rec­om­mended the post of a per­ma­nent chair­man of the CoSC. The CCS has not taken a de­ci­sion on CDS de­spite the rec­om­men­da­tions of three com­mit­tees. The false and fab­ri­cated pro­pa­ganda of the bu­reau­cracy that the Army will take over the coun­try if CDS is ap­pointed has taken prece­dence over the na­tional se­cu­rity and in­tegrity of the coun­try.

That the In­dian Army is an apo­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion has been ad­e­quately proved over the years. The CCS is see­ing ghosts (based on self ag­gran­dised in­ter­ests of the bu­reau­cracy) when there are none.

BU­REAU­CRACY TAKES PRECE­DENCE The false pro­pa­ganda of the bu­reau­cracy that the Army will take over the coun­try if CDS is ap­pointed has taken prece­dence over the na­tional se­cu­rity and in­tegrity of the coun­try.

In­dian army fi­nalises plan to in­duct women in mil­i­tary po­lice.

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