Defence Minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, in her first address to the armed forces on the eve of Independence Day, highlighted the government’s efforts to reform the Army in a big way. “In a first ever exercise after Independence, the Ministry of Defence in consultation with the Indian Army has decided to reform the Indian Army in a planned manner… This restructuring is aimed at enhancing the combat capability of the Army in a manner that the officers, Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks (OR) will be used for improving the operational preparedness,” the Minister said in the address. Ms. Sitharaman said the first phase of the reforms involved redeployment and restructuring of approximately 57,000 posts of officers, JCOs, ORs and civilians. The major reforms include optimisation of signals establishments, restructuring of repair echelons, redeployment of ordnance echelons, better utilisation of supply and transport echelons and animal transport units besides closure of military Farms and Army postal establishments in peace locations. Assuring that there shall be no shortcoming in providing all dues and facilities to soldiers, Ms. Sitharaman said that in line with the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission, the Ministry has taken “the decision to pay uniform allowance” and clarity has been brought in with respect to “what is covered within the ambit of the allowance and what clothing items will be provided by the government.” Ms. Sitharaman also stated that to ensure faster decision making, for day-to-day requirements of the troops or ammunition, greater powers have been delegated to the service headquarters and other lower functionaries.
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