New Delhi: At a time when the Indian Army is mulling reduction in numbers to save funds for modernisation, the civilian departments created to support the armed forces are in an expansion mode by creating more vacancies at senior positions which will further burden the defence budget.

In recent times, two services including the Armed Forces Headquarters Service and the Indian Defence Service of Engineers (IDSE) have expanded in a big way with the creation of several new higher posts notwithstanding the recommendations of the Lt Gen Shekatakar Committee which had suggested a big scale downsizing to help the Defence Ministry save funds in the long run.

Last year, the Armed Forces Headquarters Cadre Service got sanction for creation of 43 new posts of Principal Director and Director (equivalent to Brigadier and Colonel respectively in the Army) as part of the cadre restructuring. However, to match the increase in the number of vacancies, they surrendered 44 posts of Multi-tasking Staff (MTS) who are group four employees.

Similarly, while making suggestions for reducing the number of support staff in the form of the IDSE officers who work for the Military Engineer Services and are basically tasked for building and maintenance of defence buildings, the Shekatakar Committee had recommended that there should be a cut of at least 250 officers including 10 Chief Engineers, 96 Superintendent Engineers, 106 Executive Engineers and 54 Technical Officers in a phased manner.

However, in the last couple of years, the IDSE officers have managed to get three additional posts of Additional Director General for themselves which would mean that there would be further expansion in their cadre strength rather than size cut.

The Shekatakar Committee had overall suggested a reduction of 57,000 personnel including 27,000 military men while 30,000 were supposed to be civilians.

An important member of the Shekatakar Committee and former Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen (Retd) Vinod Bhatia emphasised the need for pruning of 27 different civilian organisations with 6.15 lakh civilian employees for optimal utilisation of the "meagre defence budget".

"The Army needs restructuring to be future ready and present relevant. Equally important 27 organisations under MoD with 6.15 lakh civilian employees be restructured and pruned to ensure optimum utilisation of the meagre defence budget. Armed forces need to also look at jointness and integration," he tweeted.

A senior serving officer of the armed forces said the issue is about optimum utilisation of the defence budget which pays for the civilian employees as well.

"Only downsizing the combatants will not help much in changing the 83:17 revenue expenditure to modernisation expenditure ratio and there is a need to cut the tail too," the officer opined.