Tuesday, 14 January 2014

As mountain strike corps takes shape, army chief says govt has assured funding


Army chief admits the flow of funds, would naturally rest on economic growth

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 14th Jan 14

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Bikram Singh says the government has assured funding for a massive, new mountain strike corps that was raised on January 1 to add muscle to India’s defence of its northern border with China. The flow of funds, he admitted, would naturally rest on economic growth.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Monday, the army chief revealed the new strike corps was already taking shape. On December 1, 2013, twenty-two units began raisings at regimental centres across the country. On January 1, the new corps headquarters, numbered 17 Corps, was born in Ranchi. The first of its divisions, 59 Division, was raised at Panagarh the same day. Simultaneously, two brigades began taking shape in the northern and eastern sectors.


A Business Standard analysis of the fiscal effects of adding 80,000 more troops to the army existing strength of 12,00,000 soldiers (‘New strike corps for China border a fiscal minefield’, January 7, 2014) had underlined that the army’s revenue expenditure would be bloated even beyond its already high 82 per cent, and load additional capital expenses onto an already stressed capital budget.

The analysis highlighted that this year’s Rs 73,444 core capital allocation to the three services for 2013-14 had been mostly spent even before it was allocated. Of this 96 per cent was earmarked for instalments on purchases made during preceding years, while just Rs 2,955 crore – a miniscule four per cent – was available for new acquisitions. Only a sharp rise in defence spending would provide the Rs 8,000 crore needed annually for the new corps.

Gen Bikram Singh said the ministry of defence had provided him “hundred per cent assurance” that the money would be forthcoming.

“When the proposal was brought to the CCS (the apex cabinet committee on security), there was a discussion on the financial implications. The honourable raksha mantri (defence minister) has assured me that all financial support will be given. I am very hopeful that the money will come,” said the army chief.

Injecting a note of realism, General Singh added, “Every time, I am assured about budgetary support, but let me remind you gentlemen, it is all contingent upon the fiscal situation within the country.”

Justifying the addition of 80,000 more soldiers to an army that already spends two third of its revenue budget on salaries, the army chief said, “We have got long borders; disputed borders; porous borders; hostile borders. You require boots on the ground… so the revenue side would always be heavy.”

What remains unclear is: With 80,000 more salaries raising revenue expenditure significantly, and with Rs 8,000 crore being required each year for the new corps, will the next government be forced to raise defence spending, or will the air force and navy be forced to curtail their modernisation? Both those services spend two-third of their total budget on modernisation, compared to just 18 per cent that the manpower-heavy army spends.

This year, at least, the army’s capital expenditure on new weaponry has gathered steam. Allocated just Rs 494 crore for new contracts (alongside the air force’s Rs 2,010 crore and the navy’s Rs 443 crore), General Singh said the army would conclude 40 new contracts this year, involving a total value of Rs 24,000 crore, and a cash outflow this year of Rs 3,000-3,500 crore.

According to sources, the army could spend six-seven times its allocation for new contracts this year because its “committed liabilities” of Rs 3,727 crore were less than what had been allocated in the budget. The failure to conclude several large contracts last year had reduced this year’s “committed liabilities”, allowing more to be spent on new purchases.


Critics of the new mountain strike corps argue that the defence of the northern border would be better served by strengthening existing formations, with the purchase of equipment like 155 millimetre ultra-light howitzers and towed guns, and air support. Even more important is the building of a good road network, that would allow existing formations deployed on the border to move swiftly in response to a developing threat, rather than being tied down to one spot.

5 comments:

Mahip chadha said...

At Last!
Col Mahip Chadha

Anonymous said...

The defence establishment surely knows its task. The Air Force and Navy are strong enough to deter the most likely threats. Spending more money on foreign equipment for these forces will have to come down - we are not planning to invade the US. The argument here is between more boots on the ground (and spending in salaries which helps our economy) we should spend more money on foreign (preferably US)arms. The defence establishment surely knows its task.

Anonymous said...

There is not even a shred of doubt that money looted in 2g, cwg, coal scam puts the fiscal expenditure to raise the mountain division to pea nuts.

Anonymous said...

long term planning should include increasing the 65 odd tank regiments to over 100, the no of corps increased to 20 rapids to 12 ramidsto 12 , the strike corps 4each
for pakistan and china . The airborne troops to over 300000and
20 special forces battallions .The
battle hardened 365 +65 rr battllions be increased to 700+100 and the 100 RR battalions be trained equipped toUS RANGER BATTALLION levels . One airborne and three air assault divisions be raised by 2020. The manpower strength be raised to 1.8million with a vast training component of officers and jcos utuilsed to train , administer ,motivate atleast 50 bsf , 50 crpf , 20 cisf 20 itbp , assam and other paramiltary battallions to the level of army regiments .The armys
capital budget must be increased to 25 % by 2016 and 30% by 2020.The old feudal ways of running the regiments and army must give way to modern 21 century culture where batmans are replaced with civilan helpers who are organised trained and looked after
by exservicemenorganisations .THE GENERALS NEED TO BE FIRST AMONG EQUALS AND SEPERATE FOOD AND GORA PERKS MUST BE ABOLISHED .OLD REDUNDANT ORGANISATIONS MUST BE CLOSED AND MODERN STRUCTURES RAISED IN PLACES LIKE DELHI IN CANTONMENTS WHERE MANY HUNDRED MORE SERVICEMEN CAN BE ACCOMODATED .THE ARMED FORCES HQ IN LONG RUN MUST MOVE OUT OF DELH TOGETHER WITH AIR AND NAVAL HQ WHERE OPS ARE IN UNDERGROUND HARDENED BUNKERS . THE ARMYS FITNESS WHETHER IN FIELD OR PEACE STATIONS MUST BE SUCH THAT A FIXED VARIABLE
TRAINING SCHEDULE FOR ALL OFFICERS AND RANKS IS THERE. REGULAR SPORTS , RIDING SWIMMING GOLF MUST BE MANDATORY TILL AGE OF 54.ALL RECRUITS MUST BE TRAINED AND INDUCTED INTO INFANTRY FIRST AND AFTER 3 TO 5 YRS THEN SENT TO OTHER ARMS AND SERVICES . THE INFANTRY OFFICERS AND TROOPS MUST BE PAID A SPECIAL ALLOWANCE SO AS TO KEEP IT ATTRACTIVE AND NEWCOMERS ESPECIALLY FROM ARMY BACKGROUND ARE DISCOURAGED FROM JOINING ORDNANCE ASC AND OTHER
GHOOS POCKETING ORGANISATIONS.

larsing said...

The image on your post looks like some bunker on the infamous Maginot line.That is symbolic of our armys thinking.