Indian Army Likely To Cut Non-Combat Jobs


In an attempt to become leaner, the 1.2-million strong Indian Army plans to cut non-combat jobs in near future.

Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh recently asked the top brass of the armed forces to conduct a study in order to find out how the forces, currently battling a fund squeeze, could be right-sized. General Singh also asked one of his senior-most generals to start reducing the strength from August without disturbing the force’s tooth-to-tail ratio. The ratio is the number of personnel (tail) needed to support a combat soldier (tooth).

Talking to the media in New Delhi on Wednesday, a senior Army officer said: “Spending cuts have squeezed the budget. Strengthening the tooth-to-tail ratio will improve combat efficiency and result in savings. The roadmap to reform should be ready in three months.”

Meanwhile, former Vice Chief of the Indian Army Lieutenant General (Retired) Philip Campose believes that it will be difficult to determine the ratio, as the figure could differ with the model used for calculation. He explained: “But at a very basic level, if we talk about an Army division… it has a fighting complement of around 14,000 soldiers. They are supported by around 3,000 soldiers in a logistics role. The size of this tail can be reduced to improve the ratio.” Currently, the Army, which has a sanctioned strength of 49,631 officers, is short of around 9,106 officers. So, according to Lieutenant General (Retired) Campose, it becomes crucial for the Army to reorient roles of officers in order to improve the ratio.

Interestingly, the Indian Army chief made the move just five months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that his government would modernise and expand forces. With this announcement, the PM made a clear indication that India would spend more money to sharpen the Army’s combat potential through technology rather than support elements.

From 2005 to 2013, the Indian Army had cut more than 14,000 jobs. The Modi government is well aware of the fact that right-sizing the world’s second biggest force will help control ballooning expenditure. So, it asked General Singh to review the Army’s “logistics philosophy and concepts” and arrive at the “most advantageous model of sustenance”.

While tabling a report in the Parliament on May 3, Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar said that the South Asian country’s defence spending for 2016-17 was not in keeping with the requirements of the armed forces. In February, the government announced that it would spend INR 2.58 trillion (USD 1 = INR 66.48) or 1.74% of India’s GDP on defence, a marginal increase of 9.7% over last year’s revised estimates.


  1. Yes. I think a long over due exercise. There is a lot of scope in reducing the logistic tail. For example the medical and repair cover of the divisions deployed in defensive role can be reduced and dependency on Government and civilian hospitals with augmented capacity catering for both peace time as well as war time needs as also the vehicle manufacturers service facilities taking on the Army load directly with suitable expansions. One other aspect is the Base Workshops. These are British time legacies, when the Country did not have adequate civilian facilities to cater for third and fourth line repairs as also overhauls. Now these responsibilities can go straight to the manufacturer with his facilities for the same suitably located to cater to Army needs. In fact while concluding contracts for wheeled vehicles this should be built into the contract.

  2. If the repair aspects are reduced by eliminating the 3/4th echelon repairs to the Army equipment then we must resort to replacement of major assemblies of the war machinery in the field. Moreover turning to the manufacturers for these repairs will increase the turn around time for them. Again no Army in the world is designed for defensive role alone, its main training is for offensive operations and defence is secondary to its nature. Neglecting the tail failed many an Army in the past. If the Armed Forces are too costly to the nation, reduce them proportionally preparing for a lessor security cover. The government can improve its cordial relationships with the neighbours through MEA’s peace pact synergies. Already the Armed Forces are running on low budget support and it is the cheapest in the world. Any further cost cutting will destroy it once for all. If only the scams relating the Army equipment are contained and the morale of the soldiers boosted, we can have a cost effective Armed Forces, it is not a rocket science to realise this truth. The politicians should stop using the defence budget as a cash cow for scams, has anybody got the guts to ensure it?