Moving to modernize, transform the armed forces: Chief of the Navy Staff on the Agnipath project

Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R Hari Kumar. (file photo)

Shortly after the Center unveiled the new recruitment program for the armed forces on Tuesday, violent protests erupted across the country. Army job seekers are concerned about the criteria of the new model being put in place. In a chat with India Today, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar clarified apprehensions related to the scheme.

“Nearly two years of planning went into this. We also looked at recruitment models from other countries. Our aim was to reduce the age profile from 32 to around 25 and modernize the forces,” Admiral R Hari Kumar said.

Most young people fear becoming unemployed after spending four years as an ‘agniveer’ under the scheme.

On this, Admiral R Hari Kumar said, “You have to consider the benefits of the program. An agniveer will be exposed to many tangible and intangible skills. More importantly, warfare has changed over the past few decades with the inclusion of technology. Young soldiers will be able to adapt quickly.

Admiral R Hari Kumar said the armed forces is not a job creation program. “You are joining because of patriotism and eagerness to serve the nation,” he said.

On job security, he said: “The idea is to increase the representation of the armed forces. We want to recruit in all regions of the country. The program will allow us to recruit more soldiers.

Amid concerns about instilling a sense of belonging and commitment in four years among veterans, Admiral R Hari Kumar said: “If you look at how the army or navy is organized, seniors are supposed to guide the juniors. They ultimately bond over a lot of things. I expect the same from agniveers. It is not the duration that develops cohesion, but the tasks accomplished together.

Unleashing three out of four agniveers, the Navy Chief of Staff said: ‘By the time they get out, they will have learned weapons handling, combat, computer use, among other skills. Moreover, they can opt for other jobs in UAPs and the IT sector.

Admiral R Hari Kumar explained, “Soldiers will be assessed from day one. The best performing soldiers will be selected. However, it goes both ways, as soldiers can also retreat themselves.

Several researchers and veterans said that a pilot project would have been preferable. Kumar said a pilot project would complicate matters and create a division in the forces.

Among the possibilities of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) becoming the preferred choice of young people, he said: “The armed forces are different. They have unlimited liability. Anyone who joins must join in the love of service.

On concerns about agniveers becoming anti-social, Admiral R Hari Kumar said: ‘It’s a far-fetched idea. In the event of a national emergency, we can count on them in the future.