Courage shown by soldiers in Galwan Valley beyond words of appreciation: Par panel

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New Delhi, Mar 16 (PTI) The valour and courage shown by Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley incident in eastern Ladakh in June last year is 'beyond words of appreciation', a parliamentary standing committee said in a report on Tuesday.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence overwhelmingly expressed its gratitude towards each and every soldier and officer 'martyred' or injured in the incident and also to their families, it said in the report tabled in the Lok Sabha.

'Indian Army is undoubtedly dedicated to preserve national interests, safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of the nation. In present testing times on both sides of the border, the Army has shown great valour in facing and thwarting the challenges,' the committee said.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a fierce hand-to-hand combat with Chinese troops on June 15 last year in Galwan Valley, an incident that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

Last month, China officially acknowledged that five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the clash with the Indian Army.

'The committee would unanimously like to place on record that the valour and courage shown by our soldiers in the incidence of Galwan Valley in June, 2020 is beyond words of appreciation,' the committee said.

The panel, headed by Union minister Jual Oram, also mentioned the Army's ongoing task at hand to 'fight proxy wars', defeat internal threats, assist the government and the people of the country during natural calamities.

'The committee opine that a sustained and adequate budgetary support is quintessential for meeting requirements of the Army,' it said.

The 31-member committee has Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as one of its members.

Referring to the allocation of financial resources to the Army, the committee recommended adequate measures for the streamlining of the procurement and budgetary procedures to mitigate the gap between the projected and allocated funds.

'The capital budget cardinally provides for expenditure on modernisation, enhancement of force level, infrastructure development etc. Under capital head, in budget estimate for 2021-22, Army's projection was Rs 51,492.10 crore and allocation to be made is Rs 36,531.90 crore,' it said.

'There is evident deduction of Rs 14,960.20 crore in allocation vis-a-vis demand. The committee views that a gap to the tune of 30 per cent is huge and merits attention,' it added.

The panel said it was informed that a proposal for a reduction in non-essential manpower is under consideration and that the relevance of certain divisions such as the infantry, mountain and armed divisions has eroded with time.

It said the new concept will have Integrated Battle Groups while logistics support will mostly be outsourced as modern-day infrastructure development and outsourcing facilities have expanded up to the border and forward areas.

'Manpower requirements will see a transition from conventional to new-age technological warfare requirements, which include space, cyber and Artificial Intelligence specialisations,' it noted.

'The committee ratifies the perception of manpower optimisation and imbibing technological advancements. Simultaneously, they observe that the secrecy of Army's mission and strategic operations shall not be jeopardised by outsourcing activities in border or forward areas,' it said.

The committee said it approved and recommended the use of technologies for surveillance and reconnaissance purpose as latest surveillance tools and software prove to be decisive in gathering intelligence against enemies.

'Nevertheless, boots on ground is inherently important from the point of view of taking quick and responsive measures from time to time as the need be. Technologies shall be imbibed to assist human resources in carrying out responsibilities to the best,' it said.

The committee also mentioned the Army's efforts to reduce its force size, especially the 'tooth-to-tail ratio', adding that nothing concrete has come out till date.

'The committee feel that after integration of the available resources of three forces, the tail part of the Army can be substantially reduced,' it said.

The 'tooth-to-tail' ratio refers to the amount of supply and support personnel (termed as tail) for each combat soldier (tooth). PTI MPB RC