Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Armed Forces: their role during crisis, procedures for requisition

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Recquisition of Armed forces for crisis management

As the Army moves in to take over the COVID-19 quarantine facility in Delhi, the procedure for calling the armed forces to help the civil administration is in the spotlight.

Requisition the Army

  • The regulations permit civil authorities to requisition the Army for controlling law and order, maintaining essential services, assisting during natural calamities such as earthquakes, and any other type of help that may be needed by the civil authorities.
  • The procedure for requisitioning armed forces is governed under several guidelines including:
  1. ‘Aid to Civil Authorities’ under the guidelines laid in Instructions on Aid to the Civil Authorities by the Armed Forces, 1970;
  2. Regulations for the Army, Chapter VII, Paragraphs 301 to 327 and
  3. Manual of Indian Military Law, Chapter VII

How is Army invited?

  • Civil administration requests the Local Military Authority for assistance, for the maintenance of law and order, maintenance of essential services, disaster relief and other types of assistance.
  • Armed forces can be asked to provide troops and equipment for a flag march, rescue and relief, evacuation, and immediate aid.
  • The current case of checking the spread of COVID-19 is different, as the medical aspect is predominant.
  • These resources are being controlled centrally and judiciously, because of the requirement of doctors, equipment and facilities.

Why need Armed forces in such situations?

  • Besides the specialised medical resources, which are centrally controlled, the local units are prepared for maintenance of law and order, crowd control, curfew in sensitive areas etc.
  • Moreover provision of essential supply of electricity and water, restoration of essential services, emergency feeding and shelter, prevention of panic, prevention of theft and loot are other areas of concerns.
  • During such multi-faceted challenges, local authorities have shortfall to perform all such functions.

In such situations, what happens to the armed forces’ primary role?

  • Providing aid to civil authorities, as and when called upon to do so, is a secondary task for the armed forces.
  • It cannot replace the primary role of ensuring external security and operational preparedness.

Is there a ceiling on such deployment?

  • No, there is no such ceiling either of a duration of deployment or on the number of armed forces personnel that can be deployed to aid civil authority.
  • The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), headed by the cabinet secretary, is the final authority.

Are there any templates or instances from the past that are applicable here?

  • The current situation is different from earlier cases such as tsunami or super-cyclone, which were natural disasters.
  • The major difference is that specialists are the key in the current situation, and their tasks cannot be performed by general duty soldiers.

Who pays for the costs incurred?

  • The civil administration is responsible for the costs incurred by the armed forces in these roles.
  • The cost of assistance provided by the Armed Forces is recovered in accordance with the instructions contained in ‘Instructions on Aid to Civil Authorities by the Armed Forces 1970’.

What is the role of the National Disaster Management Authority?

  • NDMA is involved in secondary follow-ups by the Home Ministry and is not very actively involved in the current case.
  • The roles of the Ministries of Health, Home, Civil Aviation and Defence are predominant in this case.
  • The armed forces are aligned with them at the apex level viz NCMC.
  • The directions are followed by execution-level coordination which is done by respective secretaries in the government.
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