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All equipment procurements are being planned in a 'balanced manner' for all arms: Army chief

Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat in a clear message to the force has assured that all equipment procurements are being planned in a “balanced manner” for all arms, so that modernisation needs of one arm does not take priority over others. He adds that therefore all future procurements have been classified as ‘critical’, ‘essential’ and ‘important’.

In a recent internal communication to the army, General Rawat spoke of several aspects of the force, including on capability procurements. He also spoke on the need to rightsize the army by having less liability under the salary head of the revenue budget and instead have more budget for modernisation. Currently, revenue accounts for 82 per cent of the army’s budget, while the capital component is only 18 per cent, officials explained.

The army chief, in the communication, also gave a strong message of having a fit army. He explains that the army is losing “two battalions” (each having 700-800 men) of personnel every year due to non-operational physical casualties. These kind of casualties are accidents and lifestyle diseases, which has become a major cause of concern for the army. General Rawat highlighted that soldiers have to be fit during service and even after retirement. To this end, exercise should be done and unhealthy foods be avoided.

Officials explained that even during his visits to formations and while addressing seminars, the army chief has been emphasising on bringing about these transformational changes.

Taking this initiative forward, General Rawat in the internal communication explains that “all procurements are being prioritised to buy equipment which increases combat power and being planned in a balanced manner for all arms and services so that modernisation needs of one arm, do not take precedence over others.”

He added that all future procurements have been classified as ‘Op Critical’, ‘Op Essential’ and ‘Op Imp’. The critical schemes of all the arms without which basic functionality cannot be done will have to be completed first.

“The idea is that every arm and service is given due priority with an aim of interoperability,” explained an official.

The army chief through the communication has also asked for suggestions on how to reduce the revenue budget, so that there is more money for modernisation. “Less liability we have under the salary head, more budget we would have for modernisation. Hence the need to rightsize the Army and equip it with modern weapon systems. Any suggestions on rightsizing from the environment will be welcome,” explained General Rawat.

Former Army Vice Chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand in his deposition to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had explained that from 2012 the capital component of the defence budget has decreased as compared to the revenue head. The capital outlay meets construction requirements and new procurements.

The Vice Chief had also told the Committee, “Allocation of Rs. 21,338 Crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payment for 125 on-going schemes, emergency

Procurements, 10 (I) (weaponry for 10 days of intense war).”

Meanwhile, the army chief also reiterated the need for army personnel to remain healthy for better contribution to work and home. “Rising cases of disability, lifestyle diseased and ‘sudden death’ of young soldiers during BPET (Battle Physical Efficiency Test) should alarm all of us. Measures to reduce deep fried and unhealthy foods like puris, pakoras and sweet dishes need to be undertaken, and replaced with healthy alternatives,” he says.

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