NEW DELHI: Cutting-edge technology will replace non-combat personnel in the Indian Army once South Block approves a new policy to scale down India’s war preparedness by stockpiling weapons to
10 days from 40 days of “intense conflict”.
This has been decided keeping in mind the “Minimum Accepted Risk Level (MARL)". Drastic staff cuts in non-combatant departments such as Defence Estates, Defence Accounts, DGQA, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and the National Cadet Corps (NCC) are likely once a defence ministry proposal gets the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security.
Initial reports suggest the Army could club non-essential units such as Military Farms and Army Postal Service into one. It is pruning logistic units and training facilities of the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Ordnance Corps, Army Service Corps and Army Education Corps. Outsourcing functions is also being considered.
Significantly, restructuring of white elephant DRDO is on the cards by closing down 12 laboratories dealing with life sciences or merging manpower. This comes after a report submitted last year by a high-powered committee headed by Lieutenant General DB Sheketkar, where he recommended that all non-combat organisations under the defence budget should be subjected to a performance audit. Subsequently, the ministry sought responses and recommendations from the three services.
During last year’s address to the Combined Commanders Conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “Modernisation and expansion of forces at the same time is a difficult and unnecessary goal.” After staff costs, less than 20 per cent of the defence budget is left for weapons and equipment upgrades. OROP implementation is an additional burden.
A ministry official says all powerful militaries of the world are reducing their strength; the UK announced a 20 per cent cut; the Russian army has done away with its mammoth Soviet era divisional headquarters; the US Army is cutting 80,000 from its staff to concentrate on combat capabilities over bureaucracy.
India’s military opponent China will reduce 300,000 personnel from the 2.3 million PLA by 2020. “Any force modernisation will remain a dream,” Former Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar told the Parliamentarians.