“The phases will comprise requisite refinements of the studies to make them pragmatic for implementation. It has also been decided that all operational aspects of the studies will be validated through test-bedding them in exercises,” said Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand on Saturday.
The Army led by General Bipin Rawat plans to launch the major transformative exercise by early next year after fine-tuning the four studies headed by senior Lieutenant Generals on force reorganization and optimization, flattening headquarters at different levels, cadre review and terms of engagement for officers and jawans, as was first reported by TOI in mid-August.
If all the measures under consideration are actually implemented on the ground, it will lead to slashing of manpower by around 1.5 lakh personnel over the next six-seven years to save around Rs 6,000-7,000 crore annually in revenue expenditure.
“The focus of the studies is holistic integration to enhance the operational and functional efficiency, optimize budget expenditure, facilitate force modernization and address aspirations of both officers and soldiers,” said the spokesperson.
The recommendations range from increasing the combat force ratio by slashing non-operational flab and downsizing the Army HQs by merging or relocating different directorates to creating integrated composite brigades under Major-Generals and eliminating most of the divisional headquarters.
The major proposal to create composite brigades or integrated infantry, armoured and artillery battle groups, with four to six battalions each instead of the existing three, also ties in with the ongoing cadre review of officers. The cadre review, among things, has suggested the radical step of doing away with the rank of Brigadier (the rank will be retained only in staff postings) to ensure better career prospects and parity with the civil services as well as arrest its greying profile of commanders.
The Army commanders’ conference also discussed the urgent need to have longer tenures for formation commanders as well as “enhancing linguistic skills” in the force. “The necessity and methodology to enhance expertise in local languages like Urdu and Kashmiri and international languages like Chinese and English have been established,” said Colonel Anand.