The Army Training Command (ARTRAC) is likely to be shifted from its present location in Shimla to another part of the country as part of the ongoing reorganisation of the Army keeping in mind the future expansion needs.
The Indian Express has learnt that the Army Headquarters was considering three locations where ARTRAC could be moved to. They include Meerut, Bangalore and Gaya. Sources informed that of the three, Meerut is now under active consideration since it has adequate infrastructure required to house the Command.
“Initially there was also a proposal to move it to Gaya because the Officers Training Academy, which was set up there, is also proposed to be shut down. However, as of now it looks as if Meerut is at the top of the list,” a senior Army officer said requesting anonymity.
The ARTRAC has been based in Shimla since March 1993 after it was moved there from Mhow in Madhya Pradesh. It is housed in heritage buildings dating back to the British era. The buildings, at one point of time, housed the headquarters of The Indian Army during the summer months.
Sources in the Army said that there was a need to move ARTRAC to a more suitable location because with the proposed amalgamation of Directorate General of Military Training with ARTRAC, there would be need for more space and none exists in Shimla. “The heritage buildings are under a great strain and there is hardly any space to house any additional manpower,” an officer said.
When contacted, a senior officer at Army Headquarters confirmed that the proposal to shift ARTRAC was under active consideration. “There are three places which are being considered but no decision has been taken on the final choice as yet. Discussions are still on in this regard,” he said.
The Army Training Command was raised in October 1991 at Mhow with the mandate of dealing with concepts and doctrine development, training policies and institutional training. An officer-centric organisation, the ARTRAC deals in formulation and dissemination of concepts and doctrines of warfare in the fields of strategy, operational art, tactics, logistics, training and human resource development.
It also acts as the nodal agency for all institutional training in the Army besides evolving joint doctrines in conjunction with other services. It supervises and monitors training in all other training establishments and development and introduction of advanced training aids, including computer war games and simulators.
A former general officer commander-in-chief of ARTRAC, Lt Gen DR Soni (retd) said that move is timely keeping the future needs in mind. He said that the present location was conducive for undertaking projects but had its share of disadvantages as well.
“ARTRAC at present is slightly isolated from the military point of view and it would be better if it was at a place where there was good rail and air connectivity. There had been proposals earlier too, to move the headquarters to another location but they did not fructify as the proposed locations did not have the requisite infrastructure readily available,” he said.
Sources informed that after the proposed re-location of the command takes place, a smaller Army formation could be moved to Shimla to take its place.
Before ARTRAC was stationed in Shimla, the city was home to the Western Command of the Army after partition. The Western Command had been initially raised in Delhi in 1947 as the Delhi and East Punjab Command, but was moved to Shimla in 1954. It remained there till 1985 when Western Command headquarters was moved to Chandimandir, near Chandigarh.
The Indian Army has had a substantial presence in Shimla since the time the town was established. However, it was in the 1860s that the hill station also became the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army during summer.