The Army Headquarters has proposed a new system of writing the Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of Non- Commissioned Officers (NCOs) wherein these would be written by Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and not the officers, as is being done currently.
A proposal in this regard has been initiated for examination and implementation by the Army Headquarters on the directions of the Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat.
A present, the ACRs of the NCOs, comprising the ranks of jawans till Havildars, are written by the Company Commanders who are commissioned officers. It is now proposed that the JCOs (ranks of Naib Subedar to Subedar Major) who serve as Platoon Commanders, senior JCOs and Subedar Majors in units should wrote the ACRs of the NCOs as they serve directly under them. Presently, the JCOs have no say in the writing of the ACRs.
It has also been proposed that the Company Commanders would be the reviewing officers for the ACRs under the new system.
A letter has been issued by the Adjutant Generals branch of Army Headquarters on September 13 in which it has been pointed out that JCOs are an important part of the command and control structure of the Army. The letter, which has been disseminated throughout the Army, says that it is imperative that the JCOs are empowered so that they exercise more control over the subordinates who come under their direct command.
The Adjutant Generals branch has sought comments till October 31 on the move which seeks to instill judicious assessment of confidential reports of the NCOs. It has also been added that the Key Result Areas Monitoring Cell of the Chief of Army Staffs Secretariat has approved the implementation of the move.
Step towards giving more power to JCOs
Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) have always been the mainstay in any Army unit. Over the years, the average number of commissioned officers in an unit has gone down and there have been calls for giving greater responsibilities to JCOs. Empowering them to write confidential reports of NCOs is a step towards giving them more authority as well as greater say in command and control in the unit.
There has been a mixed reaction to the proposal. A senior serving officer opined that a large percentage of the JCOs as on today are not able to write well. “It is not understood how they will write the ACRs which require considerable knowledge of language. The JCOs may also be more susceptible to pressures and pulls, being mostly from the same social groups and regions and the troops,” an officer said He also expressed the apprehension that this may result in a chasm between the officers and the troops.
When contacted, a senior officer at Army Headquarters confirmed that this was a move to empower the JCOs by giving them more authority.
“The number of officers in a unit is not going to increase drastically. We have to ensure that the JCOs shoulder more responsibility. The results may not be immediate but in a few years down the line, the JCOs would be able to do this task well once it is institutionalised,” he said.