ECHS MEDICAL FACILITIES
The Cabinet has approved the grant of medical facilities under Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) to World War-II Veterans, Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECOs), Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSCOs) and pre-mature retirees. This will benefit over 43,000 individuals who were not covered so far under ECHS. These individuals will now be able to avail the benefits of cashless medical treatment under ECHS facilities through a network of over 425 ECHS polyclinics, over 2500 empanelled private hospitals and all Government hospitals throughout the country, subject to certain conditions. As a special dispensation, war-widows will be exempt from the one-time contribution to join ECHS.
Launched by the Government in April 2003, ECHS provides quality medicare to 54 lakh ex-servicemen pensioners, their dependents and a few other categories. The decision to extend the scheme was a long-standing demand of the veterans and will be welcomed across the board.
HELMET MOUNTED DISPLAY
An agreement was signed during the recently concluded Aero India 2009 in Bengaluru, between Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd for a technology collaboration agreement (TCA) for licensed manufacture of Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS)/ Helmet Pointing System (HPS) Version 02 for pilots of the Armed Forces pilots. Under the agreement, BEL will make and integrate HMDS with night-flying vision goggles, Colour day and night display, 3D symbology, head-tracking, sensors and weapon cuing. The HMDS and HPS will be manufactured under licence for Indian Naval and rotary-wing platforms of the armed forces.
Under India-Israel defence agreements, Elbit Systems Ltd had opened India’s first UAV manufacturing factory in Hyderabad’s Adani Aerospace Park in 2018. An Adani-Elbit joint venture will produce the Hermes 900medium altitude long-endurance UAVs for the Indian and global markets.
The HDMS has the capability to display helicopter’s flight and platform information, mission data, target information and additional enhanced capabilities such as Low Visibility Landing and Take-off, flight within Degraded Visibility Environment, Optional Weapons Management and Synthetic Vision. It has a ‘Heads-Up-Eyes-Out’ concept which reduces the need for ‘Heads-Down’ in-cockpit instrumentation observation for critical information as altitude, velocity, engine performance, warning indications and also allows the crew to concentrate on mission performance which will increase the situational awareness and survivability in all naval operations.
PC FOR WOMEN OFFICERS IN ARMY
In a welcome development, the Government on 25 February, accorded sanction to the grant of permanent commission to Short Service Commission (SSC) Women Officers. Earlier, women who were inducted into the Army through the Officers Training Academy and were eligible only for SSC. With this order, women entrants for SSC may be granted permanent commission in ten branches of the Army. These are Corps of Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps and Intelligence. Women entrants were earlier considered for permanent commission only in Judge Advocate General’s branch and in Army Education Corps (AEC).
Women officers will continue to be commissioned into the above mentioned ten Arms and Services as hither-to-fore, with no change in their tenure of short service engagement. On completion of three years of commissioned service and before completion of four years of commissioned service, they will be required to exercise their option for grant of PC and their choice of specialisation. They will be considered for grant of PC based on the availability of vacancies and subject to willingness, suitability, performance, medical fitness and competitive merit. On grant of PC, these women officers will be employed in various staff appointments only as per their qualifications, specialisation if any and organisational requirement. They will continue to be part of their parent arm/service but will serve on staff appointments only, both within their parent arm/service and in other fields of their specialisation. Their further career progression in select ranks will be within the existing authorised strength of officers in the Indian Army.
In the first major restructuring of the Army Headquarters in the national capital, the Ministry of Defence is learnt to have reduced some 20 per cent of the officer posts, merged two weapons and systems procurement agencies and created a new post of Deputy Chief who will coordinate with military intelligence, operations and logistics wings. This decision has been taken by the Raksha Mantri in line with the government’s resolve to make the 1.3-million-strong Army leaner and fit for a 21st-century war. The new Deputy Chief will oversee strategy and operations, intelligence collation, the conduct of operations and the movement of logistics. At present, the DG (Military Operations) and the DG (Military Intelligence) report to the Army Chief or Vice-Chief. The restructuring will also merge the Master General Ordnance (MGO), who is currently under the Vice-Chief, and the DG (Weapons and Equipment) under a single vertical with the Deputy Chief (Planning and Strategy), which will be renamed Capability Development.
Also approved is the creation of a consolidated information warfare wing that will encompass two existing wings under the DGMI and the DGMO. The DG (Military Training) is now also being merged with the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) in Shimla. This restructuring is based on one of the four studies carried out in house by the Army and was termed “Reorganisation of the Army headquarters” with a view to achieving integration. The decision on the other three studies is yet to be announced. These studies are: “Reorganisation and rightsizing of the Army,” “Cadre review of officers” and “Review of terms of engagement of rank and file”. The requirement is felt of having a balanced cadre to meet the aspirations of the officers to include longer tenures at senior levels of command.