Free Press Journal

Govt to halt defence recruitment


New Delhi : As part of the government’s policy of right-sizing the Armed Forces, the Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force have been asked to go slow in recruitment by not adding any more numbers to the existing strength.

A top finance ministry official referred to the rising cost of the personnel in a 2-day Unified Commanders’ Conference held here on July 30 and 31 and laid stress on the matter of force numbers, the resultant man-power costs and redundancy of the large force in view of the technological upgrades.

The conference agreed to his suggestion not to increase numbers in the forces as the rising cost of the personnel is becoming unbearing, particularly when the government wants to spend more on the modernisation. A decision was taken that “addition of the new equipment for modernisation does not mean a corresponding rise in the strength of men”.

He pointed out that only Rs 99,563 crore could be earmarked in this year’s budget for modernisation as against Rs 1.19 lakh crore on the salaries of the three Services and another Rs 1.08 lakh crore on the pension bill. Both salaries and pensions to the defence forces account for 40% of India’s total budget.

The new high-powered Defence Planning Council (DPC) constituted early this year suggested in its first meeting in May to have “leaner, meaner and restructured armed forces ready for future wars enabled by proper use of budgetary allocations.”

Over the last decades, the armed forces have absorbed a fair amount of technological developments, including communications and digitisation, which means some of the troops can be  redeployed.

The Army, the biggest of the three Armed Forces with a strength of 1.3 million, has been asked to improve its teeth-to-tail ratio. In simple words, it means having more fighting units and reducing the non-fighting numbers.

Last year, the Defence Ministry announced shifting of 57,000 officers and soldiers to more combat-oriented roles by 2019.

It was an outcome of a committee headed by Lt General (retd) D B Shekatkar, which suggested as many as 99 structural changes in the army, including cutting down flab and reducing revenue expenditure. The ministry accepted 65 of its suggestions. Army chief General Bipin Rawat ordered restructuring of the Army on June 12 this year.

Armymen to get all-weather boots

NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has approved a new design of high-ankle combat boots for both its officers and soldiers for use in all-weather conditions and in different terrains except the snow-bound areas. It wanted the shoes to be light in weight and the toe made of scratch-resistant leather and three suppliers were picked up after extensive user trials by thousands of troops since 2016. An order of 12.75 lakh pairs of the new shoes has been placed that will replace the heavy-weight shoes in use now, the defence ministry sources said.

election of the new boots comes on the heels of the Army starting trial of the sports shoes last month to replace the World War era iconic canvas shoes for daily morning physical training (PT).

One of the parameters to select the boots was that the troops are able to wear them in temperature varying from zero to 50 degree Celsius. A cost negotiation committee finalise the boots, their cost, supply and logistics before seeking the final approval of the Defence Ministry.

The selected boots have special polyutherene sole with shock-absorbing capacity. They possess slip-resistant properties, making them use-friendly in the mountains.