The Armed Forces are facing a shortage of more than 1.13 lakh soldiers, with the army the worst hit. Apart from this are a host of issues including ageing equipment, and table top exercises rather than dusting up the ground with tanks, artillery and helicopters in real time. Nobody is fooled. The one doesn’t replace the other.
The basic figure needed to be understood is this. Salaries and pensions formed 54 per cent of the defence budget, while just 27 per cent went for new equipment. That leaves less than 19 per cent for maintenance, as well as the road building frenzy post Galwan. Which is why successive Defence Committees of the Cabinet has been saying either reduce manpower, or step up the budget to 3 per cent of GDP. Right now its shrunk to a mere 1.49 per cent. In other words, there is a choice. One or the other.
The Agnipath scheme is aimed at changing the forces largely into an all volunteer force, with an envisaged 46,000 volunteers in each of the first four years, to 90,000 volunteers in the fifth year, and to 125,000 in the sixth year.
As a formidable expert Lt Gen Shankar observed, by 2032, when the 50% mark is reached, each subunit will have one experienced soldier for three inexperienced Agniveers. That’s not a fighting ratio. It’s a make do mandate. Then at the end of four years, a 75 per cent cut takes place, which means that only one of four will make it.
That’s not the healthiest competition, especially under fire, when an Agniveer dead means a slot gained for absorption. And no, an Agniveer on a four year lease is not quite the same as a regular foot soldier, however brave.
Crime Today News | INDIA