NEW DELHI: The restrictions imposed by the army on its personnel and formations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is posing challenges to its internal functioning.

Extension of leave for soldiers and placing those who recently returned on quarantine have created a shortage of manpower that is affecting the turnover of troops for daily, security and administrative duties. While this is also affecting the training routines of troops, reduction in attendance at the headquarters is set to slow down other work as well, said officials.

The steps are aimed at ensuring social distancing and preventing contagion. It has created an unprecedented situation, forcing the army to improvise, especially because troops eat, sleep and train together within confined spaces. For example, one particular unit has now divided troops into teams that live in different areas, while ensuring that only one team uses the common toilets at a time. Training is conducted in small batches, and the equipment is sanitised every time it is used.

The army on Monday issued fresh instructions to all its military stations, cantonments, units and formations in the 82 districts under lockdown. These include restricted movements, functioning of only those personnel engaged in essential services and the closure of all CSD canteens.

Officials said the reduction in manpower in some of the army’s formations was due to the extension of leave of soldiers till April 15 and placing those who recently returned on quarantine. Those who are going on leave due to an emergency in their families will be sent for a minimum period of 30 days.

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