Army Commanders' Conference: Need to Push Modernisation and Inclusive HR Policies

Issue: 2 / 2017By SP’s CorrespondentPhoto(s): By Indian Army
The Biannual Army Commanders’ Conference in progress in New Delhi

The biannual Army Commanders’ Conference came to an end recently with the closing remarks of General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff. The Army Commanders’ Conference had commenced earlier this month in April 2017. Army Commanders’ Conference is an important event in the planning and execution process of the Indian Army. To ensure due diligence, decisions are taken through a collegiate system comprising the Army Commanders and other senior officers who deliberate upon the prevailing security scenario, strategic and actionable issues to ensure effective combat edge of the Indian Army.

General Bipin Rawat, in his addresses emphasised that all systems were working well and complimented those who are working on the ground. He observed that the Indian Army continues to hold a strong image and a professional reputation. He exhorted all ranks to endeavour to further strengthen the same. The Chief of Army Staff impressed upon the need to work in a collaborative manner for maintaining combat effectiveness of the Army. He expressed his confidence at the way the Army has been adapting itself to the dynamic internal and external operational environment. He added that there is a need for sustained and holistic modernisation of the Army wherein combat and manoeuvre arms, Air Defence and Aviation are on high priority. The Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshall B.S. Dhanoa and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba also addressed the conference emphasising on evolving a joint operational philosophy.

At the conference, it was decided to give heft to the modernisation plan of the Army. A comprehensive plan to speed up land acquisition for infrastructure development has been decided to be addressed through the state governments. During the deliberations, a session was dedicated to discussion with the Ministry of Defence to evolve a more wholesome action plan on administrative and modernisation issues. Also, important issues having HR policy ramifications were discussed. There is an impetus to evolve a more pragmatic HR plan. The core values of Army though haven’t changed; rapid societal changes and discernible impact of socio-economic aspirations on Army were a focus area of the Conference.

The Army, unlike most government departments, has a highly pyramidal structure, which results in over 50 per cent personnel not being promoted despite being highly competent thus necessitating optimum utilisation of this pool of competent personnel. The Conference deliberated measures to enhance transparency and inclusiveness leading to greater equability. The proposals to make Short Service Officers entry scheme more popular, streamlining the intake pattern, employment of Women Officers and grant of Honorary ranks to Junior Commissioned Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers were also discussed with positive road maps.

The Army Chief, during the course of the deliberations, highlighted the need for a more participative form of policy formulation. Concerned branches of the Army HQ have accordingly been directed to interact with wide cross-section of offices, branches, and personnel.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley also addressed the Army Commanders’ Conference and complemented the senior military hierarchy saying: “Whenever the challenges multiply or their nature changes, Indian Army has always outperformed itself.” He stated that modernisation of defence equipment is the topmost priority for the government.