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The Army top brass from the logistics branches fear that increasing commercial orientation of the Indian Railways and Air India could push the military logistics on a lower priority. Speaking at a National Seminar of Military Logistics, army logisticians called for a reorientation of these entities towards national defence.
Army faces issues of infrastructure, inventory and maintenance with the railways for its movement and supply chain management.
Inadequate railway infrastructure and assets, especially at locations needed by the army, lack of technical staff at detraining stations, delay in providing ODC clearance, undue delay in availability and mustering of stocks, unfulfilled requirements of land to stable stocks, and increasing cost & time overruns and delays are some of the major problems faced by the army.
Army currently has 3,500 railways wagons of its own, which are mostly lying idle. Designing and procuring wagons that can be used both by the army and railways will solve this problem, experts at the seminar felt.
While dealing with Air India and private airlines, army feels that poor availability of air assets, lack of pallets for loading new generation aircraft, non-availability of material handling equipment at airfields, poor coordination between the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Defence and the Indian Air Force have often acted as roadblocks.
Military logisticians also felt that the army has never practised full mobilisation after the 2001 Operation Parakram which followed the attack by Pakistan-based terrorists on Parliament.
The issues faced in peace time could be overcome during a war like scenario. But there is a need to have a permanent national organisation to coordinate these issues and iron out problems.
During the recent Operation Maitri in Nepal, private truckers hired by the army were delayed in carrying relief material to Nepal as they were struggling with insurance and custom clearance.
A centralised agency at the apex level would have overcome this problem quickly.