Military chiefs iron out differences over senior ranks

May 23rd, 2008 - 2:14 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) India’s military chiefs have ironed out their differences over the number of additional star-ranked officers each service should get, paving the way for implementing a high-powered panel’s recommendations on the issue, official sources said Thursday. “The ministry has given its nod and now the recommendations will be forwarded to the cabinet for approval,” an official said.

Once the cabinet gives its nod, the second part of a report submitted by former defence secretary A.V. Singh would be implemented, the official, who could not be identified, added.

The first part of the report on speeding up promotions up to the rank of colonel and equivalent has already been implemented.

As per the recommendations in the second part of the report, 156 additional posts of two- and three-star officers were to be created, with the army getting 95 and the remaining ones being divided between the navy and the air force.

However, a spat erupted at a meeting Defence Minister A.K. Antony called Aug 31 last year to discuss the issue, with army chief Gen. J.J. Singh arguing that the increased posts should be in proportion to the size of the three services and the tasks they handled.

Given the army’s role in guarding the borders, in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and in the northeast, and its increased deployment on internal security duties, it deserved to get more posts at the major general and lieutenant general level, Singh maintained.

The numbers game then expanded into another area with the navy and the air force contending that several of their two-star officers should be upgraded to bring them on par with their army counterparts.

Expressing his “surprise” at the issue being brought up, Antony is believed to have told Singh, navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, and air force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major to resolve the matter so that a comprehensive note could be put up to the cabinet.

While this has now been done, it was not immediately clear whether there would be any changes in the A.V. Singh committee report.

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