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'Three service chiefs grabbing posts'

Former defence secretary Ajai Vikram Singh has said the military top brass is following its own self-serving agenda, reports Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2007, 01:30 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times

Criticising the three service chiefs for scampering to grab the bulk of the new 156 general-rank posts recommended by the AV Singh committee, former defence secretary Ajai Vikram Singh has said the military top brass is following its own self-serving agenda.

He said the myopic focus on usurping more posts had defeated the most crucial objective of the report — ‘peeling off’ or releasing officers before their careers stagnate.

Singh told HT, “The most significant recommendation was to increase the intake of short service commissioned officers and have fewer regular officers. The former would leave before reaching higher ranks and the ‘peel off’ would reduce stagnation in the long term.”

Proposing a complete reversal in the intake ratio of officers, the report recommended that the army take in 1,100 short service officers and 500 regular officers every year, against the existing practice of commissioning 1,000 regular and 500 short service officers.

Lt Gen H.S. Bagga (retd), who co-authored the report, agreed that modifying the intake formula was the principal recommendation. “Over 50 per cent of officers would have ‘peeled off’ before reaching stagnation. If the report is implemented in its entirety, the army may not actually need all the 20 new posts of lieutenant generals or 75 major generals,” explained Bagga, adding that the report’s implementation had been “messed up”.

Singh and General Bagga are willing to make a presentation to Defence Minister AK Antony, who wants to speed up implementation of the report. But Antony’s plans have hit a roadblock, with the three service chiefs taking an openly confrontationist stance to corner more posts. The first phase of the report was implemented three ago but Singh said “the implementation process has been distorted. Dividing the report into phases has done more harm than good by causing more stagnation.”

Focused on the army, the report had recommended 1,484 news posts for colonels, 222 for brigadiers, 75 for major generals and 20 for lieutenant generals. The air force and the navy were asked to devise a matching formula to maintain parity in rank structure.

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