Military Reforms Current Affairs - 2019

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Defence Minister approves reform of Army headquarters

Union Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh has approved certain decisions regarding re-organisation of Army Headquarters. This approval for restructuring of Army headquarters was part of four studies conducted by Army for a leaner and more efficient force.

Key Decisions Taken

Defence Minister approved setting up separate bodies to probe allegations of wrongdoings against officials with an aim to enhance transparency and put in place a more stringent mechanism to look into corruption and human rights violations in armed forces. These Two Special Vigilance Cells approved by Defence Miister were part of the military reforms.

1. FOR CORRUPTION: A separate Vigilance Cell under COAS with Tri-Services representation

At present, the vigilance function for Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) is through multiple agencies and there is no single point interface. As per restructuring of Army headquarters an independent vigilance cell will be made functional under COAS and accordingly, ADG (Vigilance) will be placed directly under COAS for this purpose. It will have 3 Colonel-level officers including one each from Indian Army, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy. This will be done within existing posts at Army headquarters.

2. FOR HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS: An umbrella organisation under VCOAS for enhanced focus on human rights issues

It has been decided to set up a special Human Rights Section headed by ADG (Major General rank officer) directly under Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS) for giving high priority to observance of human rights convention as well as values. This Human Right section will be nodal point for examining any Human Rights violation reports. Further, to enhance transparency and ensure best of investigative expertise is available to section, a Police officer of SSP or SP rank will be taken on deputation.

Re-location of 206 Army Officers from AHQ to Formations/Units of Field Army

Defence Ministry felt that combat worthy officers who are serving in Army Headquarters should be in field units. 206 officers in total will be optimized from AHQ and who will be then be made available additionally to Formations/Units of Field Army. Among those who will be moving out of AHQ include 186 Lieutenant Colonels, 9 Colonels, 8 Brigadiers and 3 Major Generals.

Idea behind re-locating Army Officers is to enhance leadership in filed areas and enhance its operations in forward areas as number is nearly 20% of strength of these officers in Army Headquarters. Currently, the number of officers till rank of Colonel at Army Headquarters is around 1,000 to 1,100.

Reason: Less number of fighting officers on front to lead soldiers had been a long standing demand of Army. Field units had been operating with only 50% requirement of officers. S even though around 25 officers are considered ideal, the field units have been functioning with only 10-12 officers.

It is the officers who lead men in combat therefore having more of them with field units will definitely enhance operational capabilities.

Government approves Shekatkar Committee recommendations to reform military

The Union Defence Ministry has approved most of the proposals of a committee of experts, headed by Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (Retd) to bring host of reforms in the military and improve financial management.

Around 90 recommendations have been of the committee were approved. Most of these recommendations are measures to increase coordination among the three Services and cut down flab in Army to make it lean and agile.

Some recommendations of Committee
  • Capital expenditure: Roll-on defence budget must have enough capital expenditure available for modernisation.
  • It must be against the present practice of surrendering unspent capital budget at the end of each financial year.
  • Performance audit: It must be conducted of non-combat organisations under the Defence Ministry.
  • It must include those dealing with defence estates and accounts, Director- General of Quality Assurance, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and National Cadet Corps (NCC).
  • Downsizing or rationalisation of manpower: It will lead to significant savings.
  • Joint services war college: It must be established for training middle-level officers.
  • Reduce deployment of active-duty soldiers in avoidable postings: They will be replaced by retired officers and jawans in the running of NCC.
  • Comprehensive reforms in the running of NCC: Transfer of NCC out of the Defence Ministry to the HRD Ministry: NCC can be run by re-employed or on-contract ex-service personnel.

Implications

If recommendations of committee are implemented over the next five years, government can save up to Rs. 25,000 crore from the current defence expenditure.