By Aritra Banerjee
It has been over half a year since the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced its Agnipath policy, a new recruitment initiative for Personnel Below Officer Ranks (PBOR). The policy, since its inception, has been fiercely debated with polarising views on the feasibility and impact of the defence services. Violent protests had erupted in the streets over implementing the scheme.
Now with that in the backdrop, the policy rolls full speed ahead, with the first batch of recruits having begun training last week at multiple establishments across the country. An estimated 26,000 recruits aged between 17 to 23 have been selected for training from a pool of 60 lakh applicants. These ‘Agniveers’, as they are called, will serve in the Indian Armed Forces for four years. Around 25% can continue serving for 15 to 17 years based on merit.
Keeping in mind the Indian Army’s latest recruitment policy, the Service has leveraged Information Technology (IT) to initiate its novel ‘Army Software For Agnipath Administration & Networking with the acronym ASAAN. The software has been developed to record and manage the entire database for all Agniveers. The application is web-based, developed in-house and hosted on the Army Data Network. The objective is to streamline the administration process for the latest recruitment policy.
IADB has learnt that the software has modules for recruitment, record offices, training centres, units and the Human Resources Development Centre (HRDC), which enables each of these agencies to populate the requisite data of Agniveers into the database. “All documentation, including assessment and screening, is automated, requiring minimal human interference while ensuring data integrity. ” the Indian Army shared about this development.
Highlighting the Indian Army’s aims to facilitate an environment of transparency for the Agniveers about their performance, the organisation has revealed that “a majority of personal data including their demonstrated performance will be visible to the Agniveers enhancing transparency.” It may be poignant to note that the data can be made available to agencies for those Agniveers who exit the system after four years.
The application has been used from 1 January 2023 for the first batch of Agniveers who have joined their respective training centres. Over 19,000 Agniveers of the Indian Army have already begun training at nearly 40 centres. They will undergo specially curated courses that heavily involve simulator technology.
Agniveers Training With Tactical Engagement Simulators
The new training methodology and infrastructure are adapted to meet the dual purposes of training future-ready soldiers and the short duration of Agniveer training. Simulators for training on weapons and equipment are being set up. As part of the training of newly-recruited Agniveers, the Indian Army is looking to procure 36 Tactical Engagement Simulators. 50 personnel can be trained with one set of simulators.
The tactical engagement simulator is an advanced training system for using weapons. It comprises many subsystems, including body and helmet harnesses, laser, sensor, display, exercise control, and wireless communication systems.
Body and Helmet Harness: It should be equipped with communication elements, sensors, a GPS module and a control unit. It must be ergonomically designed and adjustable to fit all sizes comfortably.
Laser Unit: It should be fitted at the muzzle end of the barrel to fire a laser beam instead of actual ammunition.
Sensor Unit: Its primary purpose is to detect and decode simulated ammunition laser code received from the laser units of other weapons. It will be fitted on to the body and helmet harness of the trainee. They will have laser sensors to sense incoming laser fire from any direction to indicate hits.
Display Unit: It will display activities like ammunition selection, fire button press, and range received of the target, among others and sub-module status like battery level, damage (M kill), and destroy (K kill).
Umpire Gun: It will enable or disable any participant, to change the mode of the laser module, like alignment or ready-to-fire mode.
Exercise Control (EXCON): It is the exercise control system with a computer and software that can help the instructor to enter trainee details, assign trainees to groups, assign exercises, monitor exercises, replay exercises, and generate reports after training. The instructor should be able to inject simulation effects like minefields and area weapons. The instructor should be able to track each participant in near real-time on an EXCON display 2D or 3D map (Desirable).
Communication Systems: There should be a short-range communication network to communicate subsystems and a long-range communication network to establish communication between EXCON and each participant via the base station.
The second Agniveer batch of over 21,000 recruits will begin on 1 March. New batches will be inducted in May and November each year. Those in the know believe that by then, the Indian Army will likely have had a dry run and adequate experience with its latest IT administration and simulator-oriented training modules, streamlining and strengthening the Agniveer policy and their contributions to the Service’s vision.