New Delhi: The issue of some Army personnel from Army Service Corps, which provides logistic support, questioning their being posted in combat units was raised at the Army Commanders’ Conference here. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has assured that necessary corrections will be done where needed.
This comes in the wake of several serving officers moving the Supreme Court against the Army Headquarters as they felt that the posts available to them for their next promotion were limited on account of their being ‘non-combatants’ while they are also given operational duties.
“During the Army Commanders Conference the issue of services being non-combatants was discussed. Some personnel from Army Service Corps (ASC) have expressed apprehensions that since they are non-combatants they should not be considered for posting to field areas,” a statement said.
The Army Service Corps (ASC), which comprises over 20 per cent of the Army, handles the force’s logistic support functions, and the cadre has nearly 10,000 officers in its strength of 2.6 lakh personnel.
A statement on Thursday said the issue was discussed during the Army Commanders’ Conference, and added that there is no dispute that all arms and services of the Army are combatant.
“It was never in dispute that all arms and services are combatants. Hence, at no stage has the Army referred to Services Units being non-combatant Units,” the statement said.
It also said that the Army Chief has said that he would consider all arms and services at par and they would get their dues that they deserve.
“Some aberrations, if these are being perceived by any particular arm or service are being addressed during the Conference. The anguish amongst some personnel on discrimination in their status, needs to be put to rest and the COAS (Chief of Army Staff) has assured that necessary corrections, where needed will be addressed,” said the statement.
The statement said that in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Indian Army has highlighted that to boost strength essential in the Line of Control, Low Intensity Conflict, Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist environment a number of Officers, JCOs and Other Ranks from Combat Support Arms and logistic units are posted on tenure basis in infantry, Counter Insurgency or Counter Terrorist units.
This also provides much necessary operational experience to these Officers, JCOs and Other Ranks. It is submitted that their performance in such roles has been noteworthy, it said.
“Army performs its role in war and peace as a whole and not in isolated compartments. Each Arm/ Service has designated role and function,” the statement said.
“Combat Arms, Combat Support Arms and Services are operational entities of Army which has clear and defined roles with charter of duties. Further, without diluting the role played by Services in maintaining logistic support to Combat Arms during operations it has been the consistent stand of the Army during litigation that Commanding Officers (COs) of ASC, Ordnance and Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) are not required to largely remain in contact with front line forces where major combat may take place during operations,” it explained.
Apart from the serving personnel moving to court, their wives also recently made an appeal to the Prime Minister’s Office and to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stating that injustice was done to their husbands.
Last year, the Supreme Court had directed the Defence Ministry to create 141 additional posts of Colonel to be allocated to ‘Combat Support’ stream — engineers, signals, artillery air defence –for being utilised by officers who were eligible for promotions against the same from 2009 and till 2014. The court, however, refused to give the same relief to officers from the Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps and other minor corps — as it had not been recommended by the A.V. Singh Committee formed by the government.