New Delhi: The military has to cut manpower, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday. With over 1.3 million men in uniform in the three forces – the Army, Navy and Air Force – the Indian military is the third largest military in the world.
“Flab in the military” has to be cut, he said. It could start with the Army. “I have asked the Army to identify the areas, it will take time and cannot be done overnight,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said.
Burgeoning pension and salary bills have forced a rethink on the size of the standing military. This year the exchequer will be spending about Rs. 95,000 crore on salaries, an increase of nearly 16 per cent in two years. This year’s pension bill stands at Rs. 82,333 crore.
Both pension and salaries have been rising over the years leaving less and less for funds for acquiring much needed modern military hardware. Funds available to acquire new military hardware this year is about Rs. 80,000 crore down by about Rs.14,000 crore from last year.
“Every military station has telephone operators. What is the need for operators in today’s time when everything is automated? Much of the training can be carried out through simulators reducing, in some areas, the need to maintain large training staff and establishments,” Mr Parrikar said. “These reductions in manpower will be decided by the forces,” he said.
Earlier, when the Mountain Strike Corps which added about 80,000 men to the military, was being raised, rising salary and pension bills became a subject were discussed.
A smart, lean military is “better” than a big, unwieldy, manpower-centric military, the Defence Minister said.