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SOURCE: Hindustan Times

Army chief General Bipin Singh Rawat has ordered that no assistants (sahayaks) be placed at the disposal of retired generals and that soldiers not be allowed to stay in coveted stations such as New Delhi or other big cities for a period exceeding their tenure as part of his efforts to reform certain aspects of the army’s policies and behaviour that seem to be driven by legacy rather than logic, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to these people, who asked not to be identified, both the decisions are in keeping with Gen Rawat’s focus since he took over his first command (a Gorkha battalion): “Are we prepared for war?”

They added that Rawat believes that soldiers are meant to fight and serve at the front, not help retired army generals with canteen duties or caddying them around golf courses.

According to people familiar with the matter in the defence ministry, this has stirred things up with the former armymen taking up the matter with the defence minister; that hasn’t changed anything, though. Army Headquarters has made it known that commanding officers will be held responsible in case jawans belonging to their units are found at the disposal of retired generals.

On the second issue, the Army chief shifted out his personal drivers, who had completed six years in Army House, to other stations, the people familiar with the matter said. He has replaced his trained VVIP drivers who know the chaotic Delhi roads well with a fresh set of personnel, including one from Dimapur in Nagaland. This rotation is not limited to jawans but goes right up to the top echelons of the Indian Army.

The people familiar with the matter said that such changes are necessary because the September 29, 2016, Surgical Strikes and last year’s 73-day stand-off with Peoples Liberation Army at Doklam have disabused the notion among the army’s 1.1 lakh personnel that there will no war in the future.

On the operational front, the army is trying take war preparedness to a new level with key strike units asked to report the condition and serviceability of platforms, whether tanks or self-propelled howitzers, and stocks of ammunition.

The instructions are clear that equipment should be battle ready even if other platforms are cannibalised for much-needed spares. While platforms should be ready, there should be enough ammunition in the inventory. The army believes that it needs 10 days of ammunition inventory to take on Pakistan but 30 days if it comes to the formidable PLA.