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Strict regimen to make Army Generals slim

Monday, 08 July 2013 | Rahul Datta | New Delhi

In a major effort to improve the fitness level of Army officials, the Army will now start a new workout regimen. Officers till the age of 55 will have to pass fitness tests regularly to be eligible for promotion. At present, officers have to qualify in these tests up to the age of 50.

Under the new combat-oriented physical regime, the entire sub-unit under the command of a Major will have to qualify. As of now, the fitness of an individual officer or jawan is tested. The new test will ensure that laggards or weaker personnel do not affect the performance of the unit while fighting conventional war or carrying out counter-insurgency operations in rugged terrain.

The revamp was ordered by Army Chief General Bikram Singh to make his officers and jawans more fit to fight modern warfare and undertake missions unique to Indian conditions, officials said here on Sunday.

Elaborating upon these factors, they said Indian Army has to operate throughout the year in diverse terrain and weather ranging from minus 40 degrees Celsius in Siachen and Arunachal Pradesh to plus 45 degrees Celsius in Rajasthan. Given the security environment, the Indian Army is the only force in the world which is deployed and operational in all these theatres without break.

Keeping this in view, the Army chief ordered a review of the present Physical Fitness Proficiency Test and Battle Proficiency Test, and the

Army Institute of Physical Training, Pune carried out an analysis and submitted its recommendations to Army Headquarters, they said. The authorities have okayed these suggestions and the new system will come in force within the next two months with some modifications. The Physical Fitness Proficiency Test includes a two and half km run, chin ups and push ups, sit-ups and toe-touching exercises and 100 metre sprint. All officers up to the age of 50 years now have to pass these tests every three or four months dressed in shorts and vest.

Similarly, Battle Proficiency Test includes officers dressed in combat dress running five km, 60 metre sprint, negotiating horizontal and vertical rope and jumping across nine feet ditch.

Moreover, all these tests are carried out at different altitudes ranging from 5,000 feet to 9,000 feet with modified timings due to rugged terrain and paucity of oxygen. 

As nearly half of the Indian Army is now actively engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu & Kashmir, guarding the Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC) besides deployed in Siachen and North-East, the new regimen will have Combat Tests instead of battle physical endurance tests, officials said.

The Combat Tests will see officers going through a 20-km route endurance march and clearing an obstacle course along with the entire unit so as to bring in more cohesion, they said.

Highlighting the importance of Combat Test for the entire unit instead of examining the fitness of individual, officials said most the units now deployed in Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and other operational areas do not get time for physical and combat test training due to operational commitments. It takes a toll of their fitness and affects career prospects and presence of PT and combat fitness instructors now will ensure that these personnel on active duty also go through the paces.

Officials admitted as of now qualified fitness instructors are only based at regimental centres and none in operational areas along with the units. The new system will ensure that instructors are stationed with these units. Instructors will periodically undergo refresher courses to update themselves with latest techniques followed by advanced countries as the study found that these instructors lacked analytic capabilities in terms of reading psychological profile of trainees.

Incidentally, the Army has already started regular yoga classes and meditation and counseling sessions in units operating in stressful areas like Jammu & Kashmir and North-East. These classes were introduced more than two years back following a spate of suicides and fratricide incidents amongst the ranks.

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