Army meet approves steps to make force lean, mean machine
Plan To Be Implemented In Phased Manner
New Delhi: The Army commanders’ conference has decided that the four major studies currently under way to transform the over 1.2 million strong organisation into a lean, mean and operationally versatile force, with better utilisation of budgetary allocations, will be progressively implemented in a phased manner.
“The phases will comprise requisite refinements of the studies to make them pragmatic for implementation. It has also been decided that all operational aspects of the studies will be validated through testbedding them in exercises,” said Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand on Saturday.
The Army led by General Bipin Rawat plans to launch the major transformative exercise by early next year after fine-tuning the four studies, headed by senior lieutenant generals, on force reorganisation and optimisation, flattening headquarters at different levels, cadre review and terms of engagement for officers and jawans, as was first reported by TOIin mid-Au- gust. If all the measures under consideration are actually implemented on the ground, it will lead to slashing of manpower by around 1.5 lakh personnel in the next six-seven years to save around Rs 6,000-7,000 crore annually in revenue expenditure.
“The focus of the studies is holistic integration to enhance the operational and functional efficiency, optimise budget expenditure, facilitate force modernisation and address aspirations of both officers and soldiers,” said the spokesperson.
The recommendations range from increasing combat force ratio by slashing non-operational flab and downsizing the Army HQs by merging or relocating different directorates to creating integrated composite brigades under Major-Generals and eliminating most of the divisional headquarters.
The major proposal to create composite brigades or inte- grated infantry, armoured and artillery battle groups, with four to six battalions each instead of the existing three, also ties in with the ongoing cadre review of officers. The cadre review, among things, has suggested the radical step of doing away with the rank of Brigadier (the rank will be retained only in staff postings) to ensure better career prospects and parity with the civil services as well as arrest its greying profile of commanders.
The Army commanders’ conference also discussed the urgent need to have longer tenures for formation commanders as well as “enhancing linguistic skills” in the force. “The necessity and methodology to enhance expertise in local languages like Urdu and Kashmiri and international languages like Chinese and English have been established,” said Colonel Anand.
The focus will be on enhancing operational and functional efficiency, optimising expenditure and modernise the force