Amidst tension on border, CAG exposes Indian Army's ammunition shortage

The CAG, has come out with startling revelation that no significant improvement in the availability of ammunition in the last four years.

Published: 22nd July 2017 02:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th July 2017 07:57 AM   |  A+A-

An Indian Army soldier carries used ammunition. (File | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  As the Indian army is engaged in month long standoff with Chinese army on the Sikkim border and heightened tension with Pakistan, the country’s premier auditors has highlighted plight of ammunition in the army, as 80 per cent of its stock is way below the authorized level to keep forces ready for a war.

Last week only, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government has allowed Indian Army to make ‘emergency procurements’ without going to red-tapism  to be prepared for a ‘short intense war’

In the report tabled in the parliament, the CAG, has come out with startling revelation that no significant improvement in the availability of ammunition in the last four years, despite recommendations.

“Out of a total of 152 types of ammunition, the stock of 121 types of ammunition (80%) was below the authorization level of days.  And availability of 55 per cent types of ammunition was below the minimum inescapable requirement to be maintained for operational preparedness and 40 per cent types of ammunitions were critical level having stock of less than 10 days,” CAG observed.

In fact, CAG also pointed out the availability of high calibre ammunitions relating to tanks and artillery are in more alarming state. ‘Moreover, in the absence of fuze, 83 per cent of these high calibre ammunitions presently held with army were not in a state to be used in operation,” CAG further stated. 

The CAG report tabled on Friday is a performance report of its own report of 2015, on “Ammunition Management in Army” and the federal auditor analysed the availability of WWR ammunition in Army during the period from 2013-14 to 2016-17 (September 2016).

Summarising the findings, CAG said in the report: “Thus, despite lapse of more than three years (from March 2013) no significant improvement in availability of WWR ammunition was noticed in audit. Further, the stock levels of majority of high calibre ammunition relating to AFV and Artillery, meant for sustaining superior fire power, remained under critical level.”

On the efforts to procure ammunition, CAG noted that there was no significant improvement took place in the critical deficiency in availability of ammunition and quality of ammunition supplied by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) since March 2013.

War Wastage Reserve (WWR) is the reserve to meet the requirements for the expected duration of operations. The Ministry approved authorization of WWR as 40 days of intense period or 40(I). Further in 1999, Army introduced 'Minimum Acceptable Risk Level (MARL)', a bottom line requirement of 20(I) days considered as minimum requirement of the ammunition to be maintained at all times to meet operational preparedness.

PM Modi last week has approved financial powers to vice chief of army to made emergency procurement to fill gaps in its ‘ critical requirements’, that were exposed after an internal audit carried out by the army after September last year's Uri attack.

Notification was issued by the government last week that empowered Vice Chief of the Army to make procurements of military hardware upto Rs. 40,000 crore to meet the critical deficiencies. Army has identified critical deficiencies in 46 types of ammunition and certain spares for 10 types of weapon platforms.

The CAG report also flagged important issue of quality of ammunition provided by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). ‘ Though OFB remained the main source of supply of ammunition to army, it could not meet the targets accepted by it.’

Similar concerns were raised by the then army chief General VK Singh, as Indian army does have to enough ammunition to sustain a war for over 10 days.

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