Indian Army

Time to reform the armed forces

The media has widely reported on the battle won for women Army officers; they will now be able to get permanent commission and hold command posts. Though it is not part of the reforms announced by the government, it is a welcome development, especially for a writer of French origin who in his youth often heard of the prowess of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, who led Charles de Valois’ troops to defeat the British in 1429.

China gears up

Similarly, famed for her slow movements, India seems to have started moving at a faster pace to bring reforms into the armed forces and prepare for tomorrow’s conflicts. On August 15, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced: “To further sharpen coordination between the forces… India will have a chief of defence staff (CDS). This is going to make the forces even more effective.”

On December 31, 2019, the outgoing chief of Army staff General Bipin Rawat was appointed the first CDS. Since then, things have progressed relatively fast. One of the compelling reasons to bring in changes is that China has already started moving its pawns: In January 2016, Beijing undertook a series of in-depth reforms of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

While reiterating the Communist Party of China’s absolute leadership over the military, the PLA was asked to win the ‘battle of military reforms’. A joint operational command structure for the land forces was established and the seven Military Areas Commands (MACs) were reduced to five more flexible combat Theatre Commands.

“The restructure is part of Xi’s massive military overhaul, which aims to shift the PLA from an Army-centric system towards a Western-style joint command, in which the Army, Navy and Air Force are equally represented,” The South China Morning Post commented.

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