Indian Army to undergo reforms to boost combat capability
The Centre has announced a significant restructuring of the Indian Army in a bid to boost combat capability and streamlined expenditure. As many as 57,000 troops would be redeployed, military farms would be closed and the army's communication arms would be optimized under the reforms. This is the first time the Indian government has undertaken such "far-reaching" reforms.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley says reforms will improve operational preparedness
"Restructuring of 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," said Jaitley. "The net effect of this is that various functions in the army will be reorganized in the changed environment of economy and technology."
Reforms based on recommendations of Shekatkar committee report
The government said 65 recommendations made by the Lt-Gen. (retd) D.B. Shekatkar committee report, which was submitted last year, are being implemented. The committee had made 99 recommendations. Jaitley said, "It is a big reform and has been carried out in consultation with the army." The reforms will take place in a phased manner and will unlikely result in job losses.
What was the committee's mandate?
The Shekatkar committee was given the mandate to recommend measures to improve the army's combat capability, rebalance defense expenditure and to increase the "teeth to tail ratio." The latter refers to the supply of support personnel (tail) for each combat troop (tooth).
What the latest reforms entail?
The Centre has decided to do away with 39 military farms and multiple army postal departments situated in peace stations. The signal establishment will be optimized by combining various regiments dealing with communication. The army's workshops and depots will be restructured to tackle redundancies. The supply and transport divisions will be better utilized. The efficiency of the National Cadet Corps will also be improved.
Are the reforms too little, too late?
The Centre's decision to reform the army is a welcomed development. However, some analysts believe this should have been undertaken long back while others contend they aren't enough. "Pay and allowances of Indian Army (personnel) at present are simply unsustainable," argues Laxman Behera from the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The army accounts for 57% of India's near Rs. 3 trillion defense budget.