As per reports, the Indian Army considers cutting down more than 150,000 troops in the next half a decade under a review on cadre reform. If put into practice, the Army’s move will lead to the most important restructuring of the Ministry of Defence since the previous thirty-five years.
In June, the present Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat assigned a top-level committee, headed by the current Military Sectary Lieutenant General J. S. Sandhu, in order to review all aspects concerning the restructuring of officer cadre and then submit a report on that by the end of November.
“Merging of some verticals and rationalising roles are likely to result in cutting 50,000 troops over the next two years. A reduction of 100,000 more personnel may be possible by 2022-23. But all this is in the study phase right now,” reported sources close to the cadre review committee’s internal works.
This reform’s central idea is to improve the teeth to tail ratio of the Army. In other words, to raise the number of soldiers who are in combat against those required to provide support to them. The cadre review was actually ordered to cover several matters, comprising reduction in the strength of personnel of around 12 Lakh strong forces as well as merger of distinct verticals in order to balance the military again.
According to the committee’s internal paper, the Army also considers reducing the ranks from nine to six or even seven. Effectively, this would mean there is a scope for each Colonel approved for a promotion to become a Major General directly instead of a Brigadier. The committee also thinks about replacing division headquarters with brigades that are integrated.
“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 or possible so as to arrive at economies of scale,” stated the cadre review order earlier.
These Army reforms are part of the first phase implementation of Shekatkar Committee’s recommendations, approved in August last year by the Center. In accordance with this, the Defence Ministry has already made a decision to close thirty-nine farms of the military in a time bound way.
While the committee submitted 188 recommendations, concerning reforms in the Indian Armed Forces a couple of years ago, the Ministry of Defence had selected half of them and stated that 65 of them, concerning the Army, will be put into practice in the initial phase.