/Army wants more on field, plans to reduce headquarters strength

Army wants more on field, plans to reduce headquarters strength

Indian Army is considering a plan of cutting about 20 percent of its manpower in all departments at its central headquarters in Delhi. The idea is to have more officers and jawans available for field formations.

The move aimed at enhancing the army’s combat capabilities and turn it into a better fighting machine is part of an internal study to restructure the headquarters. It was a main point presented to senior army veterans during a seminar organised in Delhi on Sunday on Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s initiative. At the seminar, whose outcome was to draw from the experiences of the veterans, Rawat interacted with them on four internal studies to transform the army, including the one to restructure the headquarters. Veterans who participated in the seminar explained that they gave their views on the changes planned by the army to meet operational requirements and future challenges.

Officials explained that the veterans were presented the plan to cut manpower at the headquarters, to make it more “responsive and improve its efficiency”. A veteran, on condition of anonymity, said, “We learnt that its not cut back in the army, but optimum utilisation of manpower from areas which have lost relevance in the changing dynamics now.”

Explaining the current status of the plan, officials said discussions are being held on reducing the manpower by up to 20 percent. Some departments have finalised the manpower to be cut and send to field formations. The cuts are planned to take place over a few years by not replacing officers who have finished their tenure in the departments. Eventually, this will bring down the numbers.

The move also looks at merging departments having similar tasks. This too is for optimum utilisation of manpower. For example, merging the Directorate General of Military Training (DGMT), located at the central headquarters, with the Shimla based Army Training Command (ARTRAC). Both have similar roles, like the DGMT executes training plans for operations, war games, joint training, while the ARTRAC controls the training establishments and writes training pamphlets. The army top brass at its commanders’ conference last month had agreed on this.

“The plan is to ensure that the number of officers will reduce at army headquarters and increase at units and formations, where most of them are needed,” explained an official.

It gains importance due to creation of new structures at the headquarters and the need to integrate them. Some departments, however, have objected to the plan, claiming that they need more manpower for the tasks assigned to them.

Other important proposals under the four studies, such as merging the ranks of Brigadier and Major General were also discussed at the veterans’ seminar. The idea behind this is to ensure faster career growth for officers. It would mean that Colonels who are approved for promotions would directly become Major Generals without being Brigadiers in between.

The concept of having Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) in the army was also discussed. An IBG will be bigger than a brigade (about 3000 personnel), but smaller than a division (about 10,000 personnel). It will have elements of infantry, artillery, armoured and support units. An IBG is tasked to split an enemy’s strike elements in mechanised warfare. “Therefore this is more of a defensive posture, instead of looking at offensive roles. They will do well in terrain meant for mechanised warfare such as deserts, but won’t be of much use in mountains due to restricted spaces,” said another veteran.

However, the changes being proposed will have to be cleared by the defence ministry before implementation.