New Delhi, Sep 18
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Tuesday said the government was not considering any proposal to downsize the Indian Army.
She, however, said a government-appointed committee had recommended steps to make the Army a lean and powerful machine and Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat has been holding deliberations with his top commanders on it.
“There is no such proposal before me to cut troop-level in the Army,” she said in reply to a question during an interactive session at the Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC).
Gen. Bipin Rawat last week held detailed deliberations with top commanders of the force on ways to make the Army “leaner and meaner” which included carrying out an extensive organisational restructuring and downsizing of the force.
There have been indications that the Army may cut over 1,00,000 troops over the next five years as part of restructuring process. The current strength of the force is around 1.3 million personnel.
Following reports of troops cut, the Congress had come down hard on the government.
Sitharaman said a committee under the chairmanship of Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekatkar recommended series of measures to boost the Army’s overall capability including enhancing “teeth to tail ratio”, which refers to ratio of fighting units and support services.
During two-day deliberations, the commanders also reviewed the modernisation process of the Army and emphasised on the need to equip the force with new platforms and weapons.
The defence ministry has already announced a series of reform measures for the Army which included redeployment of nearly 57,000 officers and other ranks as well as ensuring better utilisation of resources.
Under the cadre review, the Army is also looking at abolishing the rank of brigadier, they said.
The sources said the aim of the reform initiative is to ready a larger talent pool for crucial tasks and bringing down the age of those commanding key formations.
The committee is also examining various options to bring down the age of commands at all levels and ensure deploying the right person for the right job.
Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement during his Independence Day address about permanent commissioning of women in the forces, Sitharaman said the modalities and rules are being finalised.