New Delhi: The Army is reviewing its policy on providing aides-de-camp (ADC) to the governors of states as it faces an acute shortage of young officers, ThePrint has learnt.
In a letter earlier this month, the Army headquarters has asked military secretaries of all the commands across the country to review if ADC should continue to be posted on deputation with the governors of states, keeping in view their functional utility and the current shortage of young officers in the Army.
The Army has also told the commands an ADC may be required in states having substantial army presence.
While states such as Punjab, Rajasthan, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have a large Army presence, states like Odisha and Jharkhand, have comparatively fewer Army establishments.
What is ADC in armed forces?
An aide-de-camp (official position) in the armed forces primarily functions as a protocol officer, who looks after implementation of the protocols, and as an executive assistant.
An ADC is also responsible for carrying out liaison with the local military authorities and looks after the professional requirements of the officer/governor he is attached to.
An ADC should have five to seven years of experience in the armed forces. He is selected on the basis of his professional performance and an interview.
Besides the governors of states, aides-de-camp are authorised to senior officers in the armed forces and the President of India.
President has five aides-de-camp
The President of India has five aides-de-camp — three from the Army, and one each from the Navy and the Air Force.
Each state governor has two aides-de-camp — one comes from either the Army/Navy/Air Force, and the other one from the state’s police force.
As many as 16 aides-de-camp are provided by the Army to the governors, while the rest come from the Navy and the Indian Air Force.
Earlier, Vice-Presidents were not assigned an ADC, but ever since Venkaiah Naidu took over as the Vice-President, he has been assigned two aides-de-camp from the military.
Over the last few years, several senior Army officers have been replacing their ADC with a staff officer, who has about 16-18 years of experience and is usually a “non-empanelled lieutenant colonel” because of a shortage of young officers in the Army, a senior Army officer told ThePrint.
Doing away with ADC system will be ‘worst decision’
The Army’s move to review the policy has evoked a mixed reaction. While some felt it would help address the redundancy of the job associated with the position, others said it is a legacy that should not be done away with.
A second senior Army officer told ThePrint the system of ADC to governors has “its roots in our legacy”.
“The service to the governor is the first point of military contact available to the state and one of the best selected officers is sent for the job. Continuing this is not only the interest of civil-military relationship, but also critical as the Army’s participation in democracy,” the officer said.
“Doing away with this out of narrow, perceptional gains will be the worst decision we can take, as it gives an exposure to the officers in military administration,” the officer added.
A third Army officer, however, said it is not yet a policy and at a preliminary stage. “Only views have been sought as of now on the idea,” the officer said.
Just a vestige of the past: Ex-Himachal governor
Some former governors were largely supportive of the idea to do away with the legacy of ADC.
Former governor of Mizoram Lt Gen. Madan Mohan Lakhera (Retd) told ThePrint: “There are so many times that the officer (police or military) ensures a smooth tour programme for the government (among other tasks). However, if the Army feels that there is a shortage of officers, military ADC can be withdrawn as the governor deals with mostly the civil population.”
V.S. Kokje, former governor of Himachal Pradesh, said the Army has initiated a good move.
“I feel it is just a vestige of the past. The roles performed by a military ADC attached to a governor can also be performed by others and they can contribute much more in their core jobs,” he said.
Nikhil Kumar, who has been the governor of both Kerala and Nagaland, however, said ADCs are personal secretaries to the Governor and are hence “an asset”.
“Special care is taken to select officers with a smart bearing and very good service record. He is expected to have high grade general knowledge and local sensitivities in his work as Personal Assistant of the Governor and is thus an asset,” he told ThePrint.
“He (the ADC) is also an Ambassador of his parent service/cadre expected to be at his best in assisting the Governor,” he added.