New Delhi: If recent reports in a section of the media are to be believed, the Indian Army is set to reduce over 150,000 troops over the next four to five years under an overarching cadre review that seeks to sharpen the force’s efficiency and prepare it for future wars.
A report quoting two officers familiar with the move said the cadre review, ordered June 21, covers wide-ranging issues, including a reduction in the personnel strength of the 1.2-million strong force and merger of different verticals with a view to optimise its functioning.
The review is currently being undertaken by an 11-member panel headed by the Military Secretary Lt Gen JS Sandhu. The panel is expected to make its preliminary presentation to Army chief General Bipin Rawat in September end prior to submitting its final report in November.
One senior officer said that merging of some verticals and rationalising roles are likely to result in cutting 50,000 troops over the next two years. Reduction of an additional 100,000 personnel may be possible by 2022-23. However, all this is currently in the study phase.
According to the second official, the Army plans to achieve such large troop reduction by revamping different verticals including directorates at the Army HQs, communications establishments, logistics units, repair facilities and other administrative and support areas.
In fact, the cadre review order has raised concerns regarding the manner in which multiple verticals of the Army had expanded over the years, despite infusing technology into the system.
The order stated, “The line between verticals has got blurred, resulting in duplication of charters and associated manning. There is a definite case for reviewing the number of verticals with the aim of restructuring within the vertical as also merging where necessary/possible so as to arrive at economies of scale.”
Former Northern commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd) said downsizing of combat forces has to be offset against induction of highly sophisticated technical equipment. “As far as overlapping duties in logistics departments is concerned, there has to be a structured analysis to see if duplication in functioning can be streamlined into lesser number of modules,” Jaswal said.
In addition to slimming down, the review also covers an appraisal of the Army’s future needs, career progression of officers, career management of non-empanelled officers, provisions related to leaving service, deficiency of officers in units, and improving the competence and morale of officers.