– DETAILS In the bad old days, a chief of the Army, Navy or Air Force would send a proposal to the Ministry of Defence and give up hope: very little, they imagined, would happen in their term. Maybe, his successors would benefit from his initiative. No longer. The flurry of initiatives sent by the Army chief, General Bipin Rawat, have been favourably received by the government. So much so, it has suggested the initiatives be divided into two parts: the ones that can be done almost automatically, within the ministry, sometimes citing operational necessity, and the others, that would require financial clearance and would naturally, have to go to the Finance Ministry and other parts of the government.
Among the proposals that General Rawat has submitted to the government include moving the Rashtriya Rifles HQ to the Northern Command in Udhampur. The Military Training Directorate is to be merged with Army Training Command, which itself is moving to Ambala from Shimla. Also, merging the Engineering Signal Regiment and the Operating Signal Regiment or making the Motor Vehicles Repair department smaller. There are several other similar proposals. These do not involve major financial clearances. Such proposals could get cleared reasonably easily, top government sources said. Of course, when these decisions will be taken will have to be seen.
But there are others that may have major financial implications: if the Army has to have a thousand Major Generals in the future, consultations with the other services and clearances by the government may be necessary. Which, of course, takes time. Even there, the government has been helpful. It has suggested that it can almost immediately create 140 new posts for Major Generals as heads of independent battle groups (IBGs) almost immediately. And this ties in with General Rawat’s plan to abolish the Brigadier rank and ensure that about a thousand deserving Colonels directly become Major Generals.
Virtually, all these proposals come from studies done internally by the Indian Army over the last year. Then, they have been placed before the Army Commanders who have cleared them, with or without changes. General Rawat is also looking at cutting troop strength by 150,000 in the next five years, beginning with 50,000 this year. Other suggestions have been made by the former northern Army commander, Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retired). One or two of the suggestions have not been accepted. They include one of reducing the strength of an armoured regiment (the Indian Army has about 65) from 45 tanks to 41 or 42. The 3-4 “extra” tanks (or 200-240) of them would be used for additional regiments.