A leaner military is on the cards

Jaitley approves most proposals of expert committee; ex-servicemen may take over running of NCC

Updated - March 26, 2017 02:23 am IST

Published - March 25, 2017 10:52 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Combat training:  NCC cadets in action. The Centre wants active duty personnel withdrawn from avoidable postings in such organisations.

Combat training: NCC cadets in action. The Centre wants active duty personnel withdrawn from avoidable postings in such organisations.

The government has approved a host of reforms in the military, with proposals to cut flab and improve financial management.

If the proposal to reduce deployment of active-duty soldiers in avoidable postings were to be implemented, retired officers and jawans will replace serving personnel in the running of the National Cadet Corps (NCC).

Arun Jaitley, who took additional charge as Defence Minister last week, has approved most of the proposals of a committee of experts, headed by Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (Retd), constituted by the Defence Ministry. The committee, set up in 2015 to recommend measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces, submitted its final report in December 2016. Sources said Mr. Jaitley had approved in principle 90 of the recommendations.

Huge savings

The committee has said that if its recommendations are implemented over the next five years, the government can save up to ₹25,000 crore from the current expenditure. Most of the recommendations are measures to cut down flab in the Army to make it lean and agile and increase coordination among the three Services.

The panel has recommended a roll-on defence budget to have enough capital expenditure available for modernisation as against the present practice of surrendering unspent capital budget at the end of each financial year.

Performance audit

The committee has recommended a performance audit of the role of non-combat organisations under the Defence Ministry. The organisations include those dealing with defence estates and accounts, the Director- General of Quality Assurance, the Ordnance Factory Board, the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the NCC.

The committee has suggested downsizing or rationalisation of manpower in these organisations, which can lead to significant savings. Another recommendation is the setting up of a joint services war college for training middle-level officers.

Sources said comprehensive reforms in the running of NCC could be rolled out over the next few years. Progressively, the NCC could be run by re-employed or on-contract ex-service personnel. It is not clear if the NCC will be transferred out of the Defence Ministry to the HRD Ministry, as recommended by the committee.

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