Observing that deployment in counter-insurgency operations was straining the resources of the Army, a parliamentary panel on Monday said the force should be relieved from these tasks to focus on undertaking its regular conventional duties.

In its report tabled on Monday, the Standing Committee on Defence expressed concern for saving lives of soldiers in counter-terrorist operations and slammed the Defence Ministry for its “lackadaisical attitude” for doing away with the deficiency of around 1.86 lakh bullet-proof jackets for Army troops.

On Army’s role in counter-terrorism operations, it said the force’s “commitments towards counter-insurgency operations strain its resources and is at the expense of its conventional war-fighting potential.”

“The Committee endorse the Defence Ministry’s views that counter-insurgency operations should ideally be conducted by the State-police or Central police forces as the matter lies within the domain of internal security and the Army should be deployed only as the last resort,” the report said.

The Committee asked the Ministry to discuss the “matter with higher echelons in light of the recommendations and relive Army from Counter Insurgency operations so that the personnel deployed in operations are available to undertake their regular duties.”

On the deficiency of bullet-proof jackets (BPJs), the Committee said it was “concerned for saving lives of soldiers who are fighting low intensity warfare inside and along the border...

It has come to us as a shock that these BPJs are still in the process of procurement, even after lapse of four years after getting approval.”

The report said there was a deficiency of 1.86 lakh bullet-proof jackets and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved scaling of 3.53 BPJs for the Army troops deployed on the Line of Control and counter-terrorist operations.

“We are disappointed with the lackadaisical attitude of the Ministry and desire that all the required quantities be purchased using fast-track procurement methods,” it said, adding that only light-weight jackets should be procured for the troops.