Army's size is not to be dictated by academics or security experts: CoAS Sharma

Published On: March 24, 2023 08:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 24: Chief of the Army Staff (CoAS) of the Nepalese Army Prabhu Ram Sharma has expressed displeasure over the suggestions of academics and security experts that there is a need to right-size the national army.

Addressing the Gandaki Provincial conference of NA ex-servicemen in Pokhara on Thursday, CoAS Sharma also vented his ire against the misinformation being spread about the role, responsibility and size of the national army through various mainstream media and social media platforms.

NA Chief Sharma alleged that there was an organized rumor about the responsibilities that the Nepalese Army is fulfilling in accordance with the constitution. “We can sometimes find misinformation being spread about the responsibilities that the Nepalese Army is performing in accordance with the constitution. You should stay away from this kind of misleading propaganda spread through various media and social media," said General Sharma.

Sharma also urged all people concerned to verify information about the national army through NA’s headquarters, its official website and circulars issued by the government.  "From time to time, [I do not know] under whose direction, the issues about the number of Nepalese Army should be this, that, and this size, right sizing and other unwanted things are raised and it has been found that they are also published," said Commander-in-Chief Sharma. “I want to say this is ridiculous.”

CoAS Sharma also said that the size of the national army is a matter exclusively for the Nepal government to determine how much the national army needs to fulfill its tasks and responsibilities. "It is not done by self-proclaimed academics, self- experts, security experts sitting in any INGO, NGO," he said. “I want to tell them that it is something to be decided by the Nepal government.”

General Sharma also complained that security experts have failed to mention anywhere about the contribution of the Nepalese Army to the country's economy and welfare works. While stating that he is very sensitive to utilizing the funds, Sharma said that the army welfare fund was used to provide facilities to the beneficiaries in terms of education, health, and self-employment and to some extent, concessions.

Sharma informed that Rs 73 billion has been collected in the welfare fund of the NA and that they are spending Rs 133.37 million from its interest in the welfare of NA ex-servicemen.  He also said that NA is bringing in $ 220 million a year into Nepal by participating in the peacekeeping force, thereby helping Nepal's economy.

Sharma said that various welfare programs have been carried out to benefit more than 1 million beneficiaries through the army's welfare fund. He also said that a large amount of the welfare fund was spent in the education sector.

Stating that the funds are being spent on education as the first priority, General Sharma mentioned that arrangements are being made for education even in places where there are no military schools. He said that they are going to build special schools for differently-abled children of NA personnel.

On the occasion, Sharma informed that the NA is going to operate its own medical college and engineering college from this year. In line with its policy to open one hospital in all provinces, a military hospital is also under construction in Butwal, he said.

A total of 3,894 NA ex-servicemen with permanent residence in Manang, Kaski, Syangja, Parbat, Baglung, Myagdi and Mustang participated in the conference held at the NA’s Phulbari Barracks. The NA plans to organize a similar conference of ex-servicemen who are permanent residents of Gorkha, Lamjung and Tanahun on Friday at NA’s No 3 Battalion in Khairenitar, Tanahun.

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