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Posted at: Jun 13, 2018, 1:49 AM; last updated: Jun 13, 2018, 3:42 PM (IST)

Army Chief okays force restructuring

Army Chief okays force restructuring
General Bipin Rawat

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 12

Faced with the twin challenge of modernising the forces and managing a rising wage bill, Army chief General Bipin Rawat has given a nod for a cadre review to ‘restructure’ and ‘right-size’ the Army to match with future requirements arising over the next two decades.

Top sources have confirmed to The Tribune that the Army chief gave his nod to the proposal in May-end and has given directions to form a Board of Officers (BOO) to carry forward the scheme. A final draft of terms of reference of the cadre review is being readied as per the directions and guidelines given by the Army chief. It will also be shared with the Ministry of Defence and then the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS).

This will be the first full-cadre review of the Army in almost 34 years. It will lay down strength, promotions and levels of ranks of the force that has now grown to be 1.2 million-strong.

“If we do not restructure and right-size now there will no money left for modernisation in the future,” said a top functionary while explaining the need for a wholesome cadre review.  

In the ongoing fiscal (ending March 31, 2019), the Army salary bill is budgeted at Rs 80,945 crore and the pension bill is Rs 95,949 crore. In contrast, the modernisation budget is Rs 26,688 crore. The PRS Legislative Research says, “Among the three defence services, the Army’s expenditure has the smallest capital component (only 11% of its expenditure is on capital under Budget 2018-19).”

Various wings of the Army had started collating inputs for such a review. The Tribune was the first to report this in its edition dated March 17. 

Since the last cadre restructuring was completed in 1984, now, the recommendations of the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee for reducing age profile of commanding officers were implemented. Some posts were also increased at the level of Colonel, Brigadier, Maj General and Lt General.

The rank structure of the Army is same since British times. There are demands to arrive at the most appropriate and legally sustainable structure in view of various court judgments. The Army has nine ranks in its officer cadre while the civil services have six designations, which creates an odd situation in case of one-on-one rank equations. Another issue in the review is having more Junior Commissioned Officers elevated as officers and the need to have more short service commission officers.

The Standing Committee on Defence in its report in March noted that the Army is operating with largescale vintage equipment.


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