There’s a strong possibility of you getting a forward on social media these days, criticising Indian Army’s proposed move of reduction in manpower. What it probably won’t mention is that it concerns the ‘non-essential’ manpower. So what is it, really and, more importantly, how and when is the reduction going to happen?
Essentially, the idea is to modernise the armed forces with the heavy infusion of cutting edge technology including Artificial Intelligence (AI), cyber warfare capability, space technology to serve small tech-intensive Integrated Battle Groups (IBF), of a tri-service nature. To achieve that objective within limited budgets, the following steps are essential:
Maintaining a healthy Teeth-to-Tail – or combat vs non-combat ratio
The ‘teeth-to-tail ratio’, in military parlance, is the amount of military personnel it takes to supply and support each combat soldier. While both ‘teeth’ and ‘tail’ soldiers may find themselves in combat or other life-threatening situations, ‘teeth’ soldiers are those whose primary function is to engage in combat.
The Army said, as detailed in the 20th standing committee report released last month, that some reduction in manpower remains the ultimate goal. “It is an ongoing process; if you recollect, when Gen. V.P. Malik was the Chief, he thought of a reduction of 50,000 men. Our aim in the next three to four years is reduction of about 1,00,000 men and this money that we are going to save because of the manpower costs, the government has assured us that this money will be cycled back to us for imbibing technology,” the committee was told.
Outsourcing, the new age mantra
So, while several blueprints of plans to reduce the Army manpower have been prepared over the past couple of decades, the reduction of the ‘non-essential’ manpower may finally begin after the massive upgradation of internal infrastructure done in the recent years, especially in the border areas.