NEW DELHI: The Indian Army is facing hindrance in intake and training at both officers and the PBOR level as the recruitment process has come to a complete halt as the country faces lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. The training has also got affected and changes in training are expected if the situation continues.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said, “No recruitments are taking place, no Service Selection Boards (SSB) are being held”. And, “If it goes till end of the year then there will be changes.” added General Rawat while interacting with a limited group of journalists.
No recruitment and SSB means no intake and this will affect the number of people joining the training institutions.
On the other hand, Army Chief General MM Naravane has instituted measures to keep the force safe from infections and also to meet the budgetary constraints factoring the rotation, movement and training of troops, units and formations but ‘without any compromise to operational efficiency.
“We will see what we can defer or scale down. For example exercises with troops where major formations move all the way to forward locations to exercise areas in Rajasthan perhaps we don’t have that for one year, without effecting or at the cost of any drop in operational efficiency.” said General Naravane while delivering a talk through weblink on ‘COVID and Indian Army: Responses and Beyond’, organised by the think-tank, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
There are orders to restrict expenditure to 20 percent in the first quarter of the year. Army Chief said that the restriction does not mean 20 percent across the board as Pay and allowances will not be affected as also stocking of ammunition will be 100 percent.
Movement of troops and equipment involves resources and exhausts operational life of the arms and equipment. Ammunition stocks are also consumed. Thus, restriction on move will also lead to saving in ammunition, Petrol, Oil and Lubricants.
“Exercise is on to identify areas where we can defer or reprioritize something the next year. And, one such place which is amenable to such kind of saving is the number of moves which happen every year. Units relieving each other on various occasions, there are more than 250 to 300 moves per year and each move costs to the range of Rs 1 crore. Obviously, units which are in field, high altitude areas, in very intense CI/CT operations they would perforce have to move.”
Movements, especially from one peace station to other peace stations can carry on the present location “We have identified around 100 such moves that can be deferred. This is one manner in which some economies can be extended.” added the Chief. Whatever cuts are there will not be at the cost of operational efficiency, emphasised General Naravane.
But, even under such constraint and restrictions, Army has been lucky to carry out 70 to 80 percent of such activities, added Army Chief.
Physical Training within units has no change with restrictions more where rough and tumble like while playing football where body contact is possible. Firing on ranges within cantonments like Binaguri, West Bengal has not stopped.
Indian Army has a strength of 12, 38,545 Officers and Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) as per the MoD data tabled in Lok Sabha in July 2019.