No weapons to train at Indian Military Academy

Published on : 12:25 PM Apr 12, 2022

The national auditor zeroed in on severe deficiencies in the training of Indian Army officers in the premier Indian Military Academy located at Dehradun, reports Sanjib Kr Baruah.

New Delhi: Despite the premium placed on the Indian Army’s ongoing modernization effort and the related training of its personnel, the premier institute that churns out officers—the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun—suffers from the non-availability of a range of weapons and equipment to train the Gentlemen Cadets (GC).

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A performance audit report on the process of selection and training of officers in the Indian Army by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that was tabled in Parliament just last week, says: “New generation weapons/equipment like multi-shot grenade launchers (MGLs), Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGLs), flame throwers, laser range finder (LRF) Spotter Scope, Thermal Imaging Devices, Image Intensifiers, Hand Held Thermal Imager (HHTIs), Firing Range Automatic Scoring System (FRASS), etc... were not available in IMA Dehradun, the premier training academy of the country.”

These are vital equipment for the Indian Army’s tactical operations at the western and northern borders as well as in conducting counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley and in India’s Northeast. Without the modern weapons and systems, the GCs were forced to train with and use “older versions of weapons/equipment which did not match the latest technological developments and changing warfare scenarios and thereby deprived the cadets of better exposure.” Advertisement

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Although the issue had been pointed out several times in the past including in the report of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC), one of the Indian Army’s seven commands, the issue still remains unaddressed although IMA tries to make do with weapons brought in from local units and formations on specific days.

The CAG report says: “This is symptomatic of the training of GCs at IMA not being at optimal levels on account of inadequate access to a full complement of modern equipment and weapons, which is a critical requirement to keep GCs abreast of the changing warfare scenario.” The national auditor found the defence ministry’s replies on the issue “untenable”.

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Another deficiency that the defence ministry claims to have resolved in June 2020 is a baffle range and a closer quarter battle range which is a critical requirement, particularly in the backdrop of the Indian Army’s involvement in combating counter-insurgency. The construction and consequent commissioning of the range took nine long years to complete after the contract was sanctioned by the defence ministry in 2011. The baffle range is a covered shooting practice area that prevents possible accidents due to stray bullets.

The inadequacies and deficiencies are not surprising in view of another CAG finding that less than 22 percent of the funds allocated under the Modernisation of Labs and Training Infrastructure (MOLTI) scheme were utilized during the 2012-2017 period—resulting in the spending of just Rs 152.70 crore out of the total allocated fund of Rs 709.96 crore. Funds under MOLTI are allocated to an institution on an annual basis. IMA also avails funds under MOLTI.

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