No proposal to downsize Indian Army: Sitharaman

No proposal to downsize Indian Army: Sitharaman

New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said there is "no proposal" before her to downsize the Indian Army.

Interacting with women journalists at the Indian Women Press Corps here, she said a government-appointed committee had suggested steps to make Army lean and powerful and Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat had been holding discussions on the issue with top commanders.

She said a Committee of Experts (CoE) under the chairmanship of Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (retd) had recommend measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces.

She said it had recommended enhancing "teeth-to-tail ratio", which is ratio of active duty combat troops to the overhead and logistic support elements.

"There areen't any such proposals before me. Under the Shekatkar committee, there is teeth-to-tail ratio on the number of people who should be there in every segment so that the Army per se becomes a more efficient force. Based on that, or otherwise, the Army chief must have discussed with the commanders," she said.

The recommendations of Shekatkar committee taken up for implementation by the government include optimisation of Signals establishments, restructuring of repair echelons, redeployment of ordnance echelons, better utilization of supply and transportation echelons and closure of Military Farms and Army Postal Establishments in peace locations.

The Congress had last week referred to some media reports and attacked the Central government over a possible reduction in the strength of the Army.

On getting the S 400 air defence missile system from Russia, Sitharaman said the negotiations have reached the final stage.

"We have to see whether we sign it before the Russian President's visit," she said.

Referring to the overarching security information exchange (COMCASA), the Defence Minister said that India is the only non-NATO country to get the deal.

"COMCASA is a significant agreement. It is a historic step forward in strengthening our relationship with the US," she said.

--IANS

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