General Bikram Singh has now taken over as the Army Chief from general VK Singh. He will be commanding the second largest army in the world after China witha force level of 1.2 million men and 29 active first line divisions.
General Bikram Singh is the second Sikh to command this vast force, but the chair on which he sits is not a bed of roses. it is a hot seat as a number of issues are smoldering. If the Army is to acheive its full potential General singh will have to address the following tasks.
a) Improve officer-men relationship which hastaken a beating with the latest officer- sahayak clash in Ladakh.. The post of the sahayak needs to be modified and his working as a personal family help abolished.
b) General VK Singh had written a letter to the Prime Minister regarding deficiencies in equipment for the army. This needs to be followed up by the new chief. This is a serious matter and brooks no delay. Procurement of the latest arms and hardware for war has to be uppermost on his agenda.
c) The entire purchase procedure needs to be streamlined and civilian organizations like BEML who are intent only on lining their pockets completely obviated from the purchase process. This is Herculean task and easier saidthan done, but Bikram Singh has to exert himself. As the head of the only and most potent fighting organization in the country he has that advantage,so he must use it.
d) He must ensure that a mix of military and service personnel form and run the Ministry of Defence. Too long the Ministry is the preserve of civilian babus who know nothing of weapons and war and yet sit in the ministry like old fossils for 30 + years. This must change.
e) The one rank one pension scheme for the defence forces must be implemented. It will be to the credit of Bikram Singh in case he can get it implemented. it will give a filip to morale of the fighting man.
It is about time the Army Chief stood up to the political bosses. The days when General Thapar accepted an order from the Joint secretary should be history. Above all Singh must remember that he heads an army witha glorious tradition of 250 years and it is incimbent on him to look after the men in uniform and not say yes sir three bags full to the political leaders.