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Army Ordnance Corps

The history of the Army Ordnance Corps can be traced back to the Board of Ordnance, which originated in the 15th century and existed till 1855. In 1986 the Board of Ordnance was transferred to Secretary of State for War. In 1896, on reorganization, Ordnance State department and Corps was organized into the Army Ordnance Department and Corps for officers and men. In 1918, in recognition of the Corps having acquitted itself with distinction during the First World War, King George V granted the prefix "Royal". The new title was "Royal Army Ordnance Corps". In 1922 the prefix Indian was added and the Corps was named "Royal Indian Army Ordnance Corps". In 1950 the prefix Royal was dropped and the Corps was named Army Ordnance Corps, which is the name today.

The logistics function of the Army Ordnance Corps involves the mechanics of provisioning and procuring of all stores required to raise and maintain an efficient and effective fighting Army. The aim is to make available all kinds of stores to all units of the Army at the right time, in right quantity, at the right place and right cost. The Inventory range covers every conceivable requirement of the soldier from clothing to weapons, from a needle to a tank and also all munitions except fuel, fodder and medicines. The Inventory Management functions involve Provisioning, Procurement, Receipt, Accounting, Storage, Issue, Transportation and Disposal of all Clothing/Equipment /Weapons/Vehicles and Ammunition.

Ordnance is also responsible for Ammunition Management for the complete range of Munitions from a pistol bullet to a Bofors Shell and all Missiles.

Army Ordnance Corps procures a wide range of stores mainly from Ordnance factories and Public Sector Undertakings. However it taps civil industry and market for a large range of low tech general stores, clothing and automobile spare parts. The corporate world can be a strong partner of Defence Services in material support. For supply of stores to the Army, the registration with Director General of Supplies and Disposal / Director General of Quality Assurance / Ordnance Depots is the first step.

The IAOC Training Centre was a part of AOC School till Jun 1947 when the AOC Centre was separated and moved from Jabalpur to Ferozepur. In Oct 1946, in addition to the Training Bn, a Depot Bn was also raised. Also IAOC Records was made a part of the Centre. Later, No. 2 IAOC Training Bn was also added. In Jan 1948 the Centre moved to Poona. The AOC records and Depot Bn continued to Stay at Jabalpur. In 1950 the prefix Royal was dropped and the centre was called AOC centre. In Jun 1953 all elements of the AOC Centre were amalgamated at its present location at Secunderabad. The AOC centre is responsible for training of recruits and other ranks of the Army Ordnance Corps. Apart from imparting Military training, training in ancillary trades like Textile Repair, Equipment repair, Saddlery, Carpentry, Painting, Tailoring and Driving is also imparted.

Catering to the infinite logisticneeds of an Army of million people and providing customer satisfaction has been really an arduous and thankless job for the personnel at the Army Ordnance Corps. This becomes clear when it is examined in the light of Aoc's antiquated procedures and equipment and a mindset of bygone days. Especially, the reduced budgetary support had its impact on giving good logistics support to Army. At this juncture, AOC as the biggest and bulkiest materials manager of the country has to adopt some new measures to provide optimum satisfaction to its customers.

The singlemost significant factor responsible for the growing scepticism amongst the users is the reluctance on the part of AOC's commanders and their subordinates to visit the dependent formations/units/troops. The problem abounds in peace as well as field areas and it sees no sign of abating. Regular visits will help in developing an empathy with the users and foster a sense of camaraderie.

Another major complaint from the users pertains to the inferior quality of stores being provided. The products bearing ISI mark or the companies possessing ISO certification should get an easy entry into the Ordnance. Similarly, the products of well-proven market standing should be admitted in the inventory without cumbersome procedures. The Quality Assurance people have to be taken into confidence about this vital need of the time. Supply of quality goods, helps the State in the long run on account of lesser maintenance and repair costs, augmented life of equipment.

Another suggested measure is to press hard for an overhaul of the procedures which are no more relevant. The Kargil conflict has driven home the fact that the fighting apparatus of the nation needs better care and maintenance and a constant state of readiness. This is the most opportune time to seek necessary changes in the decision making process along with commensurate financial powers. The integration of the Ministry of Defence and the Services Headquarters as and when completed may be the final solution.

The poor availability of stores continues to invite snide remarks from the commanders and the staff. The depots are full of stores yet there is an all-round scarcity. Some of the solutions for this malaise rest within our own hands. Timely and accurate forecasting, correct indenting, application of transportation model, procurement through local purchase, local manufacturing and a sincere effort would pay rich dividends.

In field, there is a strong case for smaller ordnance elements as part of composite logistic units to be provided for each brigade of formations earmarked for the strike role. For the major part of the Army, which is deployed where areas of operations along national frontiers are well-defined, it would be more economical to establish ordnance nodes to which formations get hooked when in that area. It is not economical to have dedicated ordnance element with every formation. These nodes will have the capacity to send out detachments.

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