The Indian Army has undertaken a comprehensive time-bound set of four different studies to achieve (a) An agile structure for field formations, (b) A responsive mechanism at the army headquarters, (c) A youthful profile for the officer cadre and (d) Review of the terms of engagement and colour service for junior commissioned officers as well as soldiers.
Taken together, recommendations made by these four sets of reviews will form the basis of transformation of the Indian Army. The task to complete these studies has been divided between the Adjutant General (AG’s) and the Military Secretary (MS’) branches. The recommendations are expected to be ready for final discussion at the Army Commanders’ Conference normally scheduled for October.
Once the top leadership—the Army Chief, Vice Chief and seven Army Commanders—finalise the recommendations, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will place it before the Defence Minister for final approval.
A perusal of the proposals—read and reviewed by BharatShakti.in—makes for interesting reading. The terms of reference across the four reviews are premised on four basic assumptions: One, they will ensure combat effectiveness of the Army in both current and future threat scenarios, two, vertical promotional avenues for officers will not get affected, three, they will make sure the profile of the force remains younger than the existing one and fourth and most importantly, all measures lead to no additional financial burden.
One of the more crucial aspects of the review relates to doing away with the Divisional Headquarters in the current formation structure. The proposal is to let the Corps Headquarters (the highest field formation in the Indian Army) to directly control operations through re-organised brigades re-designated as Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs). The IBGs can be as varied as Integrated Infantry Battle Groups (IIBGs), Integrated Armoured Battle Groups (IABGs) or Integrated Artillery Battle Groups (IArtyBGs). The Army currently has 14 Corps Headquarters.
Under the proposed change, all Division HQs (except those of the three Artillery Divisions)—identified as additional friction points in the chain of command—will be done away with. Each Integrated Battle Group will consist of four to six infantry/mech battalions or armoured/artillery battalions as required. But more importantly, each of these battle groups would be commanded by a Major General. There are detailed explanations and suggestions about how to merge and utilise Divisional Combat support, logistics and service units.
These measures, while making existing brigades more potent and the Corps HQ operationally more agile and responsive, will do away with the rank of brigadiers as formation commanders. But Brigadiers will be required to man the ranks of deputy formations commanders and as staff at Corps, Command and Army HQs. The proposal says there would be a need to make the rank of Brigadiers as ‘Non-Select’. The process may involve three different types of arrangements.
- Colonels, after successful command of battalions would be auto promoted to the rank of Brigadier (Non-select) after two-three years of service post-command, as per corps seniority and against staff vacancies assigned to each Arms/ Service
- To ensure flexibility, certain staff appointments may be made open to be tenanted by both Brigadiers and Colonels
- Only one promotion board would be held for promotion from Col/Brig to Maj Gen.
These measures would result in reduction of about 100 brigadiers but would add almost the same number to the total strength of Major Generals, the proposal suggests. This will enhance vertical mobility of officers since all officers in the rank of Colonels would get promoted to Brigadiers (non-select) and would draw higher pension accordingly. Moreover, relatively, larger number of officers would get promoted to the rank of Major Generals.
These measures are not likely to have any additional financial implications. Instead it may save some money apart from making the Army more agile, says the proposal.
It must be stressed here that this is only a proposal at the moment. No decision or even any serious discussion at the highest level has taken place yet.
(Tomorrow: Proposed re-organisation of Army HQ)