New Delhi: Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane Thursday said the organisation has prepared a roadmap for granting permanent commission to women officers. The first step of the process will be to send out letters to women officers currently on short service commission (SSC), asking whether they want to opt for permanent commission.
Interacting with a group of journalists at the Army headquarters at South Block, Gen. Naravane spoke on a number of issues, including China’s support to India in keeping Pakistan in the ‘grey list’ at the plenary of the Financial Action Task Force.
Naravane, who has returned from a two-day trip to Jammu and Kashmir, added that the FATF is one of the reasons why terror activities in the Kashmir Valley have gone down, while adding that a ‘summer strategy’ will be put in place as infiltration bids may go up in the next few months.
Process for women officers will be same as men
On the recent Supreme Court ruling granting permanent commission to women officers, Gen. Naravane said it is a welcome decision, “as it brings out a sense of clarity and purpose to gainfully employ officers for better efficiency of the organisation”.
“I must assure that everybody in the Indian Army, including women officers, will be given equal opportunity to contribute to the nation, as also progress in their careers,” the Army chief said.
He said the first step is to give women officers the option to take permanent commission.
“The process would be the same as applied to male SSC officers. We would be sending out letters to everyone,” he said.
Naravane added that certain conditions which currently apply to male officers will apply to women officers from the next batch, and not to serving SSC officers who have crossed certain timelines as far as age and number of years of service are concerned.
The Supreme Court ruling also stated that women officers shall also be eligible for command posting in the Army. The court has granted three months’ time to implement the order.
Theatre commands at ‘ideation’ stage
Gen. Naravane said that the theaterisation of the armed forces is at preliminary stages of discussion.
Theaterisation means putting specific units of personnel from the three services — Army, Navy and Air Force — under a common theatre commander, so they fight as a cohesive unit. Both US and China follow a theatre command doctrine.
The Army chief said this in response to a question on recent comments by Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat on the rolling out of theatre commands by 2022. Gen. Rawat had said he is in active discussion on the issue with the three service chiefs, and that a study on the modalities of theatre commands, spanning over three to four months, will be ordered by March-end.
Gen. Naravane said theatre commands are still at the “ideation stage”, and it needs to be seen what possible combination would best suit the Army’s needs.
“These (ideas) will undergo detailed scrutiny, analysis, studies and deliberations with the other two services before anything concrete as a plan emerges,” he said.
On J&K and FATF
Gen. Naravane said the Army is working out a summer strategy to recalibrate the way it tackles infiltration and other security threats in Jammu and Kashmir. He said as the snow melts, crossing over from the other side of LoC will become easier, and there will be more infiltration bids.
He said there are 15-20 terrorist camps inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where there are around 250-350 terrorists at any time, though the number varies.
He also said if the FATF comes down heavily on Pakistan, the country may have to rethink its rhetoric and activities, adding that China has also realised it cannot back its “all-weather friend” Pakistan all the time.
New Army HQ
Gen. Naravane said the proposed Thal Sena Bhawan in Delhi Cantonment will bring all Army HQ offices under one roof and improve the working efficiency, while reducing the carbon footprint and logistics requirements.
Currently, Army HQ is split into eight pockets, including South Block, Sena Bhawan, Hutments Area, R.K. Puram, and Shankar Vihar.
Thal Sena Bhawan is proposed to be constructed opposite Manekshaw Centre in Delhi Cantt on an area of 39 acres.
“It will also allow more family time for all soldiers tenanting peace postings in Delhi,” he said.