The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More staff for defence forces

New Delhi, Dec. 17: The government today said it had revoked a five-year-old order to overcome manpower shortage in the defence services.

The government said the 1997 order had caused “unacceptable levels of deficiency”. The order had disbanded half a lakh Army personnel.

The order was revoked in September last year but it is known only now after the government presented an action taken report to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence today.

Manpower levels in the army are expected to reach the pre-1997 level in three years. The government justified its stand on the plea that new army units were being created for counter-insurgency operations.

Reacting to an observation by the committee that the air force was top heavy and that its MiG 21 squadrons were overstaffed, the government said the staff strength had been streamlined.

“Combat units in the air force are already operating below their optimal manpower strength and any further reduction would have serious repercussion,” the report said.

The number of technical staff in these squadrons of the air force had already been brought down from 370 to 320. It said that staffing could be reduced further only in non-combatant units.

New vice-chief

Lt. General Shantonu Choudhary is to take over as the vice-chief of army staff in a spate of changes in the top brass that are expected to follow shortly.

It has already been announced that the current vice-chief, Lt. General N.C. Vij, will take over as Chief of Army Staff from General S. Padmanabhan who retires on December 31.

Lt. General Choudhary is currently general officer commanding the Army Training Command based in Shimla.

In other changes, Lt. General Hari Prasad, currently the director general (infantry) will take over as general officer commanding the Northern Command.

Lt. General Prasad will take over from Lt. General R.K. Nanavatty who retires early next year.

Lt. General Pathak is to take over command of the 1 (strike) corps.

Army headquarters is still in the process of finalising appointments for other senior level posts.

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