Thursday, 2 November 2017

Army chief, Gen Bipin Rawat: Agreed to build Railway bridges to boost Army’s image

Army chief responds to criticism about military being used on civil engineering tasks

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 2nd Nov 17

Army chief, General Bipin Rawat says he has directed the army to build three railway bridges in Mumbai in order to boost the army’s image as an organization that stands ready to assist the public at times of distress.

“We often hold camps in various towns and cities on the theme of ‘Know your Army’. I would prefer that our citizens get to know their army by seeing us come to their assistance with the efficiency and capability we are known for”, Rawat told Business Standard.

The army chief was answering criticism from various quarters, including from Opposition parties and retired army veterans, about the army being employed on civil engineering tasks that were the responsibility of the railways. Critics averred the army should be training for war, not making up for the inefficiency of civil agencies.

Amongst three pedestrian over-bridges the army has undertaken to complete by January is one that was damaged in a deadly stampede that killed 23 persons at Elphinstone Road train station in September.

The army chief says the army engineering units that will build the over-bridges are not being diverted from training. “These combat engineer units are used in war for building bridges for advancing troops. Instead of training by building bridges over the Mula and Mutha rivers in Pune, they will practice by building bridges in Mumbai. It takes the same skills in either case”, he said.

The army chief also argued that publicly demonstrating army capabilities would help in resettling soldiers after they retire. “If we want our offices and jawans (soldiers) who retire young to pick up jobs outside, what better way than to persuade the railways to raise one or two battalions of ex-servicemen to build bridges? Lateral absorption in organisations like the railways will happen if we demonstrate our discipline, capability and adherence to time deadlines”, he said.

“I have already stopped the expensive advertising campaigns we were running, urging the youth to join the army. We don’t really need to advertise. We should create awareness of the army by public assistance”, said Rawat.

He pointed out the army was the first responder in almost every natural disaster, and whenever the civil administration needed help. In February, the army built a Bailey Bridge in Enathu, Kerala to assist the civil administration. In August, after devastating floods in Bihar, army engineers had built a bridge near Katihar.

On Monday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman publicly announced that the army was being co-opted to help the Maharashtra government. Says Rawat: “Given the tragedy that took place at Elphinstone Road station, could the army have refused to assist? If I have a capability, I am duty bound to deploy it.”

The army chief said, given the army’s frequent deployment in disaster management and relief, he has asked the defence ministry to permit units to procure disaster management equipment with government funds. Currently, expenditure on such equipment invites audit objections, on the grounds that this is not the army’s primary job.


“I told the defence minister that we would always remain first responders. Just equip us for the task.”

11 comments:

Sam bo said...

The army chief also argued that publicly demonstrating army capabilities would help in resettling soldiers after they retire. “If we want our offices and jawans (soldiers) who retire young to pick up jobs outside, what better way than to persuade the railways to raise one or two battalions of ex-servicemen to build bridges? Lateral absorption in organisations like the railways will happen if we demonstrate our discipline, capability and adherence to time deadlines”, he said.

Wishful thinking.

Unknown said...

Won't call it wishful.
There may be a point in this as the experience hai bed by the personnel involved in the task can be leveraged and taken as a relevant experience for civil construction jobs after the personnel retire.

johnson said...

No civilian organisation will give jobs to exservicemen.It is indeed futile and a figment of imagination

Unknown said...

I don't think that it's all wishful thinking.

The construction of a civilian pattern bridge would be good experience to be leveraged when the individuals involved seem a post retirement job in the corporate/civil sector.

As an aside, it's my belief that the army should get involved in the day to day activities of the country.

Alok Asthana said...

The good General is taking it too far. Now he also wants the army to be equipped for being a 'first responder'. He also feels that he is duty bound to deploy in such tragedies. Tragedies like people falling of an FOB due to heavy rain and mismanagement of traffic, about a month after the event. An FOB which is in Mumbai which is the financial capital of India and is not Siachen. Surprisingly, the RM says that 'army requested them to be given a chance to be part of nation building'. Here the Gen says that 'could I have refused?', implying that the request/order came to him from someone.
The General has been in chair only for a year now. What all will we live to see?

ashok said...

THE GENERAL BEING A SIMPLETON DOES NOT KNOW THE CROOKED NETAS BABUS AND RAILWAYS EMPLOYEES . DOES HE REALLY THINK AFTER BUILDING BRIDGES HIS RETIRING SERVICEMEN WILL BE EMPLOYED . NO SIR ,OUTSIDE HIS CACOONED WORLD THE CIVILIAN MAFIA OPERATES . EACH JOB IS SOLD AND APRICE HAS TO BEPAID . THE NETAS BABUS RAILWAY ENGINEERS MINT CRORES . THEY CERTIANLY WILL NOT LET THE GOLDEN GOOSE GO . IN MUMBAI WORLD CLASS CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES OPERATE AND THEY CAN BUILD A BRIDGE WITHIN TIME SCALE AND PRICE . ONLY THE MAHARSTRA GOVT DOES NOT HAVE MONEY RAILWAYS ARE SHIRKING RESPONSIBLITY AND ACCOUNTABILTY AND THE FAUZ IS BEING MADE SADAK KA GADHAS AND GHODAS . WILL THE CHIEF ENSURE THAT THE OFFICERS AND MEN EMPLOYED ARE PAID ADDITIONAL SALARIES WITH CUT FROM RAILWAYS AND BABUS WHOSE JOB IS TO PROVIDE THE SERVICE .

Pankaj Kulshreshtha said...

Army chief speaking what the political bosses want to hear
Nothing surprising given the circumstances he was elevated for the top assignment.

ashok said...

MANY SUMMERS BEFORE IN THE CITY OF MUMBAI THEN IWAS A STAFF OFFICER .THERE WAS A ARMY CDR MAJ GEN RAWAT ANAIRFORCE CDR AND THE NAVAL CINC . UNLIKE THE OTHER CITY BORNE CROOKS OF THE OTHER TWO SERVICES EVEN THE CROOKS AGREED THAT MAJ GEN AND LATER LT GEN RAWAT WAS A SIMPLETON STRAIGHTFORWARD OFFICER . HE HAD TWOSONS BOTH MY SCHOL FRIENDS ONE SENIOR ONEYEAR THE OTHER JUNIOR ONE YEAR . THE SENIOR RAWAT IS TODAYTHE COAS . IN THE WORLD OF CROOKED NETAS BABUS BMCAND RAIWAY CROOKS HIS SIMPLETON APPROACH AND WISHFUL THINKING IS OUT OF PLACE . EACH JOB IN RAILWAYS IS SOLD RARELY ADVERTISED AND FILLED AFTER LAKHS ARE PAID . THE BMC IS A CITY STATE BUT THE CORPORATORS OFFICIALS BLEED IT OF BILLIONS . DOES GEN RAWAT SINCERELY BELIEVE THE THIEVES OF CIVIL WILL GIVE JOBS TO HIS RETIRING EXSERVICEMEN . NO SIR HE HIS FOOLING HIMSELF AND HIS DEPRIVED JAWANS . MUMBAI HAS WORLD CLASS CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES . IT IS THEIR JOB TO BUILD BRIDGES . BORDER AREAS AND OUT OF CITY DESOLATE PLACES YES THE ARMY MUST PROVIDE SUCCOUR BUT NOT MUMBAI .

Anonymous said...

During the colonial era Army Engineers did undertake and managed very large civil engineering projects. The entire irrigation canal system built by the English as Ganges Canal network, Irrigation Projects on Cauvery and Godavery were all constructed and manged by the Army Engineers. Those were million sterling pond projects made out of capital raised in London with bonds. They were responsible for even collection of irrigation revenue for a very long period. All colonial time canals that run into UP, Bihar and Punjab are a legacy of Indian Army. BEG, MEG and Bombay Sappers had separate offices of Superintending Engineers, Irrigation and each having very large establishments to run those. One can not forget their contribution in establishing and running survey organisation, border road construction, inland water transport organisation and other military engineering tasks besides many others.

I am quoting that not to suggest that Army engineers should be similarly employed but only to point out that if the need be Army can undertake such projects of national significance with or without civil engineers. Well it is for the "civilians" to decide that they have had enough of their civil resources and bureaucracy. Army will definitely have a say if it has effects on their preparedness for War.

Unreasonable and illogical criticism on the other hand has become a culture in our polity.

anonymous said...

Its unfortunate that army top brass instead of politely turning down such suggestions, tend to agree.

It is not something that couldn't have been done by the army... Its just that this starts a wrong trend!!

S Suresh said...

1. Excellent thinking. Instead of doing "shadow boxing" and putting in tremendous amount of efforts and resources for the sake of training,if the same is directed for the results on ground which can also indirectly convey " Know Your Army" what is the harm? Doesn't the other two services come forward to show their skills and also assist in befitting manner for the " Aid to Civil authorities"?

2. The additional benefit in this case is the training will be done at the cost of civil resources,thus saving the resources of the army.Besides, the efficacy of the "training" can now be seen on the ground and tested by many. Which is not the case when the bridges are constructed on Mula Mutha rivers.

3. The war and disasters take place once a while. But, the training continues throught the years and is . Here is the "Out of Box" thinking by the COAS, . Many such issues to test the real skills of the army persons can also be tried and tested.These will also save the precious resources of the army/MOD. Suffice to say, when it comes to training for war, No army General will divert from the goal or divert the efforts. Commenting for the sake of democracy is a different issue.

4. Incidentally, does any one know how the chinese army undertakes the administrative duties in civil on an enormous scale?