Army commanders to discuss Kashmir, pay panel report

April 27th, 2008 - 6:17 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) The security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast as well as the dissatisfaction caused by the report of the Sixth Pay Commission will be among the issues to be discussed at the five-day Army Commanders’ Conference that begins here Monday. Defence Minister A.K. Antony will inaugurate the bi-annual conference, which will be presided over by the Indian Army chief, Gen. Deepak Kapoor. The heads of the northern, western, eastern, southern, south western, central and training commands of the Indian Army and the principal staff officers at Army Headquarters here will attend the conference.

The situation in Kashmir, where an insurgency has been raging for close to two decades, has improved considerably in the past few years with infiltration brought under control and the number of terrorist-induced incidents on the decline, an officer pointed out.

“However, the need to maintain constant vigil continues and it is for this reason that the army has recommended against reducing troop levels,” the officer pointed out.

All of Kashmir’s political parties, barring the ruling Congress, have demanded that the state be demilitarised and Antony has often said he would go by the army’s recommendations on this.

In the Northeast, it is incursions by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Arunachal Pradesh and not so much militancy that are a matter of concern, the officer said.

Both the defence minister and the army chief have ascribed the incursions to “differing perceptions” about the alignment of the India-China border.

They have also pointed out that the issue is being addressed at the highest political level.

The incursions notwithstanding, the Indian and Chinese armies conducted their first joint war game in China last December. Another joint drill will be conducted in India later this year.

“The conference is also slated to discuss a number of key issues which impact upon the operational readiness of the army, with emphasis being laid on cyber security and improvement of communication systems,” a defence ministry statement Sunday said.

“Detailed discussions will also be carried out on the Sixth Pay Commission report, the steps required for mitigating the shortage of officers and the need for improving the quality of individual combat kit issued to soldiers,” the statement added.

During the conference, the senior army leadership will also interact with senior defence ministry officials.

“Issues of importance that impact on operational readiness and morale of troops will be discussed,” the statement said.

Amongst the important subjects to be discussed in this context are improvement of welfare measures for serving soldiers and ex-servicemen, policy on conditions of service of women officers, streamlining procurement procedures, developing infrastructure in remote areas and payment of rentals for land occupied by the army in Kashmir and northeast.

The conference will also examine reports submitted by study groups on issues such as merger of Regimental Centres, review of army uniforms and review of study leave policy for army officers.

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