The Revival of PT and Sports in the Armed Forces

"The APTC Officer shortfall must be made up with a selection of high quality, dedicated and committed officers that would be an asset to the Corps and the Army. Quality of officers must be given overriding priority rather than just filling vacancies." -Maj Gen VK Madhok-

The Revival of PT and Sports in the Armed Forces


The importance of ‘physical fitness’ in the Armed Forces, especially the Army, is of immense significance to all ranks. From the lowest level of a soldier to the highest rank of a General, all are expected to be physically fit and mentally sound to withstand and survive a tough, hazardous and challenging military life during their onerous service to the nation in the most inhospitable terrain and harsh climatic conditions prevailing in their operational areas, adjoining our lengthy international borders and vast frontier territory of our country—mainly in our northern, eastern and western sectors—where the bulk of our fighting forces are deployed. Physical fitness is equally important in the Navy and Air Force as the chances of a physically fit person falling sick is comparatively less than the one who is not.

Besides this, the ‘on-parade status’ also greatly improves with the higher physical fitness levels. For a fighter pilot, physical fitness is a vital aspect not only to maintain his flying status but for his very survival in all eventualities. In the Navy, the sailors and submariners are required to maintain high fitness levels for long offshore periods of operations and training at sea. Hence, even if there is no regular organised PT or sports activity in the Air Force, the fliers or navigators maintain their own fitness levels with individual physical workouts, games, or runs to maintain their optimum levels as demanded by their specific task or job.

Although the quality and adequacy of weapons, ammunition, and equipment, besides administrative support and backing, are significant and consequential factors, it is mainly the ‘man behind the gun or machine’ and the ‘quality of his officer leadership’ at the vital or key operational levels that become the most crucial and decisive factors for securing victory over the adversary in any level of military operations of any campaign. Hence, the ‘quality’ of the man and his military leader, especially the officer, at all levels of the Army is of paramount importance and merits the highest priority to enable and ensure that this critical ‘winning edge’ remains in our favour.

In light of the above, it is relevant and pertinent to review or audit, how we select, nurture, train, and groom our soldiers and officers concerning their physical fitness factor. The prevailing culture or norms must be analysed to bring out shortcomings if any, in our processes of selection and training. Suggesting the suitable remedial measures to address these must be to raise the overall physical fitness levels of both the officers and the soldiers and facilitate an improvement at the cutting edge, especially at the decisive unit/sub-unit levels.

The role of sports or recreational activities in military training, particularly in the Army, is indispensable as the same is a complementary physical activity which develops or enhances the physical fitness of the participants besides inculcating or promoting the positive soldierly traits of team spirit, sportsmanship, cooperation; will to win and the killer instinct. Individual games or sports promote mainly individual skills, abilities, and aptitudes with the gainer being the concerned individual only.

Basketball match being held at AIPT

However, team events especially troop games like football; hockey, basketball, and volleyball promote team spirit and leadership qualities which are so essential for the young officer leaders, particularly in units and sub-units. It was for this reason that in the past/yesteryears, in all sports competitions from the Services/Army level right down to the unit level, it was mandatory to field at least one officer player per team who became the captain of his team, even if his skill or standard was not up to the mark as the rest of the team.

Discontinuation of this policy killed the sports and games at the grassroots unit/sub-unit levels and the officers stopped playing games, and the earlier and healthy interaction and mingling with the troops declined with serious negative implications in terms of the development of positive leadership traits in the young officers. This resulted in the destruction of the culture of healthy sports and games in the units and thus widened the gap between the officers and men therein.

Conduct of Physical Training and Sports

Endurance’; a critical fitness factor, developed in cadets through X-country runs 

The effective and efficient conduct of physical training and sports activities largely depends on the possession of theoretical and practical knowledge of these subjects besides a vast experience as a player, coach, manager, or official in different sports disciplines.

Hence, if the physical training and sports activities from the Services/Army level down to the unit level were befittingly and effectively conducted in the past, there was a system, policy, and procedure in place to enable and facilitate the same, with many positive gains being made in the grooming of young military officers, at the critical unit level.

Role of APTC and AIPT

The Army Physical Training Corps (APTC) is a corps fed from all Arms and Services and has Physical and Recreational Training Instructors (P&RT Instructors) of the rank of NCOs and JCOs only. The Unit/Regimental Instructors are called Unit PT Instructors (UPTIs). The officers of the APTC are SL Cadre officers called ‘Master-at-Arms’ and include SL commissioned officers from the ranks and regular commissioned officers permanently transferred into the APTC from all Arms and Services.

It is the APTC which is in charge of physically preparing future officers trg at the PCTC's

The Army Institute of Physical Training (AIPT), Pune, or the erstwhile Army School of Physical Training (ASPT), Pune is the mother institution of Physical Training and Recreational Training, including Sports and Games. Established on 1 July 1946, the APTC Depot has been co-located with the ASPT/AIPT which has been at the Sholapur Road campus, Pune, since the early 1950s when the NDA/JSW was shifted to Khadakwasla, Pune and are 30 km apart, located at the eastern and western ends of the city.

The basic PT Course for the UPTIs at AIPT/ASPT is the Assistant Instructors Basic Course (AIBC) with the Advance Refresher Course (ARC) and Basic Gymnastics Course (BGC) being the mandatory courses for transfer into the APTC with a minimum service of 5 years in the rank of direct Havaldar.

Officers being granted SL Commission through the ranks have to be qualified in the courses applicable for the APTC NCOs unless they are from the APTC. After transfer, they undergo the Officers Physical Training Course (OPTC) which is a mandatory course for the regular cadre officers transferred into the APTC.

Besides the basic physical training proficiency, all the Officers, JCOs and NCOs are also imparted the basic knowledge of all the allied subjects of PT and all disciplines of Sports and Games of the Army, as they are primarily responsible for conducting these important training activities for the recruits in all the regimental training institutions (with the assistance of the UPTIs) and officer training academies like the NDA, IMA and OTA. Hence, besides just PT, the APTC is responsible for the uniform conduct of all the sports and games through its AIPT/ASPT qualified PT instructors.

Officer Physical Training Course (OPTC)

‘Flying Angel’ test after developing Speed, Agility, Coordination and Control for Vaulting Horse Training 

After the raising of the ASPT and creation of the APTC, till the late 1950s, the ‘Basic Officer PT Course’ was mandatory for all officers, and those who excelled and had aptitude and proficiency in this field attended the ‘Advance Officer PT Course’. However, since the late 1950s/early 1960s, the PT course conducted for the Officers was the Officers Physical Training Course (OPTC), with six courses of 30–40 officers being held every training year, till the late 1990's.

Sadly, thereafter the OPTC courses were drastically reduced and a stage reached when only one token course was held. With this low priority for PT and Sports in the training of officers, for almost 15–20 years, there were no/very few OPTC-qualified officers in the units, regimental training centers, and even military academies, adversely affecting the effective training of recruits and cadets.

How the units have conducted or presently conduct PT and Sports without the AIPT/ASPT-trained/qualified officers is anybody’s guess as we mostly find the unit PT, Sports, and Games fields empty! Due to this low priority for the past 15-20 years, several suitable, talented, and willing young officers were deprived of attending the OPTC at AIPT, Pune. Consequently, the majority of units of the Indian Army have remained without OPTC qualified officers as their unit PT and Sports Officer.

This also deprived the APTC of suitable, willing, and talented officers of joining the APTC as a career resulting in an overall deficiency of officer state of 30-40% (Present state is authorized 68 and held 42). Unless the officers are trained in this vital field of PT and Sports, the culture of fitness and sports can never be promoted or cultivated at the grass-roots level in the units. With the damage already done, there exists a lot of scopes to revive the shortcomings that have crept into the system primarily at the grass-roots level in the units.

If the officers could not be spared on some grounds, surely some young selected officers with interest, aptitude, and proficiency could have been identified from the military academies itself or by all the Arms and Services and sent for the OPTC purely voluntarily. This would have at least provided their recruit centers and even academies of qualified officers and enabled benefits to recruits and cadets.

This can easily be planned and executed now with positive long-term gains for improving the fitness of all ranks and improving the officer–men relationship through healthy, vigorous, and highly recreational sports and games.

Knowledge of PT, Sports, and Games and their Allied Subjects

Boxing; the most manly sport taught to recruits & cadets, promotes will to win through sheer dash & daring

With the long discontinuation (or just token existence) of the OPTC for the past 15–20 years for the Army officers at the AIPT/ASPT, the knowledge of these basic subjects amongst the officer cadre is very shallow or missing due to which the units have considerably suffered on this account both in PT and in Sports and Games as most units do not have any worthy, qualified or knowledgeable officers in this field.

The military academies and recruit training centers too would be finding it difficult to conduct these activities effectively and efficiently as there are very few OPTC-qualified officers. Besides this grave shortcoming, it is also pertinent to highlight that in our military academies including the NDA, IMA, and OTA, no theoretical and technical knowledge of these subjects is imparted as the focus is mainly on sports participation and passing of the mandatory PT tests.

Hence, there is an imperative need to correct this anomaly by training young officers in all the concerned subjects, initially in the military academies and subsequently the OPTC courses, with an allotment of more officer vacancies to the units of all Arms and Services. This will provide more units with OPTC-qualified officers and facilitate the revival of a sports culture at the grass-roots level and enable the conduct of all PT and sports activities effectively and efficiently.

Command PT Schools

Obstacle Training develops strength, endurance and agility to overcome fearful odds during combat

Since the existence of the ASPT and APTC, all the senior Army Commands have had an exclusive Command PT School—Southern at Pune, Central at Lucknow, Western at Shimla, Eastern at Barrackpore and Northern at Udhampur. These were run within the resources of the respective Commands and managed by either a separate OC PT School or Supervising Officer Physical & Recreational Training (SOP&RT).

These schools served several purposes like running preparatory courses for all AIBC Courses and other Basic Courses at the ASPT for the vacancies allotted to the Commands for all soldiers, besides providing useful knowledge and pre-course training to all ranks who attended courses at the ASPT.

This facilitated a uniform pre-course training to soldiers from different units or regiments, especially when their units were located in the field or operational areas where there were no such facilities or equipment. The schools also provided a base to the SOP&RT/Command Sports Officer with a minimal PT staff for the conduct of physical training and sports activities in the station; especially the staff of the Command HQs located nearby.

Due to manpower constraints, all these Command PT schools were shut down with a consequent loss of these facilities and led to a general decline in the interest and culture for PT and Sports in the Commands. Coupled with the change of the Army Sports Policy from inter-unit competitions to Inter-Regimental Centre competitions, the focus of sports in the Army shifted from the huge base and grass-roots level of Units to just a few Regimental Centres, thus killing the potential talent in the units (nurseries) besides destroying the culture of sports and games therein.

Over time, the post of SOP&RT (Command Sports & PT Officer) in all the Commands became redundant and now is basically responsible for the allotment of Sports Activity Grants (SAG) through the DGMT, Army HQ. Hence, presently there are no effective Command PT & Sports Officers and the culture of PT and Sports has been totally destroyed. Hence, there is an inescapable need to revive all these shortcomings that have crept into the system and adversely affected our past healthy traditions and way of life.

Technicalities of Physical Education

‘Burma Bridge’; one of the essential obstacles for all Field Obstacle Training of trainees

The problem is that everybody is a so-called expert in PT or Sports. Having been through a regimen of PT and some military training, including some of these basic subjects in the academies, one does gain a little basic knowledge which he believes to be sufficient to navigate in this field. This is a fallacy that needs to be realized—and the sooner the better—as this field is as technical as any other field. There is a multitude of dimensions to this and one needs to have some knowledge of subjects such as Health, Fitness, Nutrition, Sports Medicine, Yoga, Martial Arts, etc. including:

  1. Knowledge of human physiology, muscle types, muscle behavior, skeletal structure, cardio-vascular system, respiratory and circulatory systems.
  2. Nutrition balance and its optimal absorption into the human system.
  3. Mind-body coupling.
  4. Workouts, regeneration of tissues through rest and recuperation, the systematic build-up of physical prowess, balance of strength, stamina, endurance, flexibility, and skill.
  5. Excellence in sports and games.
  6. General medicine and Sports medicine.

It is humanly impossible to be an expert in all the fields and yet, a military commander who is better aware and knowledgeable of even some of these subjects can ensure better health and fitness of those in his charge, and optimize his resources for all eventualities.

One way of enabling or facilitating this is to provide some of this knowledge and understanding in the form of physical education culture in the academy. Availability of high caliber or proficient sports coaches in few sports disciplines, sports medicine specialists for teaching, and educating the officer cadets, can be a way forward.

Provision of Coaches and SM specialists from within the Services will be the best long-term option and hiring or employing civil coaches can be a temporary option. These options can greatly enhance or supplement the basic knowledge of PT and Sports already being taught by the PT instructors in the Academies.

Shortage of APTC Officers

Yoga training is part of the PT curriculum for all cadets, recruits and combatants especially during ‘cooling down’ phase

Although the present authorized strength of the APTC officers has been 68, the posted strength has been fluctuating between 35- 42, resulting in a long-standing deficiency of 35-40%. This shortage for many years has been on account of a low priority for PT and Sports in the Army and has adversely affected effective and efficient conduct of physical and recreational training (including sports and games) in the military training academies and regimental training centers.

The largest strength of officers is with the AIPT/ASPT, followed by the Army HQ (MT-8/ASCB), NDA, IMA, OTA, and Regimental Training Centres (of all Arms and Services). Discontinuation and low priority for the OPTC courses at the AIPT/ASPT for the last 15–20 years have resulted in the unavailability of willing and qualified high-grade officers for transfer into the APTC.

Every Military Academy and Regimental Centre always demands capable and proficient officers of the APTC as PTO/APTO. Where will these officers come from and how will they come, is the big question? Hence, there is a need to enable and facilitate this by improving the culture for PT, Sports, and Games in the Army, with a holistic approach to the problem.

If there is a will there are many ways and means to fulfill this will! A few years back the Indian Army had a supremely fit officer as their COAS, who understood the vital importance of fitness and sanctioned 15 officers from regular cadre/other cadres into the APTC when the corps strength was around 35. However, after a few years due to the retirement of a few officers, the strength has come down to 42 out of authorised strength of 68.

APTC JCO and NCO Instructors

The APTC presently has an adequate number of instructors (JCOs 112, NCOs 385) who are mainly posted to the ASPT/AIPT, military academies, NSG, regimental centers, military schools, etc and render valuable service. However, for many years now, there has been a great demand for the enhancement of their theoretical and practical knowledge of sports, games, sports medicine, and other allied subjects. Traditionally, the focus of the APTC/ASPT has been mainly on PT and Gymnastics, especially in the practical/performance aspect.

This must be seriously reviewed as there is little utility of the higher ‘Instructors Physical Efficiency Tests’ (IPET) beyond the First Class, as in later service, other than just the demonstration or PT display or Gymnastics participation, these tests (basically 13 tests of Special Class) are of little use. A meaningful comparison with other professional armies will prove this point and enable us to modify our needs as per the actual requirements of the trainees and for overall better and beneficial conduct of training and imparting education in this field.


Glimpse from the 67th Inter-Services Hockey tournament

The importance of physical fitness and sports in the Armed Forces, especially the Army, is of paramount importance. The befitting conduct of physical training at all levels in the Army is a professional necessity. All ranks must be kept physically fit at all times with regular PT sessions and healthy sports or recreational activities. Necessary facilities for these activities must be provided and a favourable environment created to enable and facilitate this.

Ample or adequate knowledge of PT, Sports, and their allied subjects including Sports Medicine must be imparted to all officer cadets in all military academies. Maximum OPTC course vacancies must be made available for Army officers of all Arms and Services to revive and boost the PT and Sports activities at the critical unit grass-roots level.

The current Army Sports Policy must be reviewed and the focus shifted to the unit level to nurture and cultivate the healthy sports culture of yesteryear's. All the Commands must have a PT and Sports School with an effective SOP&RT for supervising and conducting all such activities therein as per the earlier charter of duties and the allotment of SAG funds delegated to some other suitable authority.

Extracts from Military Professionals

Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh, ex DGMT & Col Comdt APTC, ex Lt Gov Andaman & Nicobar Islands

The points raised in the article are sharp, pertinent and relevant to the necessary evolution of the Army Physical Training Corps to the next level of competency, preparedness and deliverables.

In the profession of arms and the calling of soldiers, combat readiness and efficacy is determined not just by the training rigour that is physical, mental and emotional – but also, cultural, psychological and ‘auto-instinctive’ that can only be best borne and harnessed by specialist Institutions like the Army Institute of Physical Training (AIPT) and such like establishments that propagate not just the extremities of physical prowess and sports, but so much more, in the making of a complete fighting machine of an individual ‘soldier’.

The warriors code and ethos necessitates that he/she must always put the combat mission above all, never accept defeat or quit and above all, leave no comrade behind in any circumstance – the nobility of these standards and drilling can be seamlessly instilled in a combatant through the means of sporting/physical excellence that proximate the finest tenets of a ‘combat unit’, where everyone pushes themselves to their physical and mental limits, for the ‘unit/team goals’.

Even morally, soldiers who excel in sports know the importance of playing by the rules and abiding by the dignity of conduct, this invaluable lesson is a very important collateral benefit that accrues to a professional warrior in training. This is not a luxury but a necessity of chiseling an ordinary human into one that is capable of doing extraordinary actions, routinely.

Practically, specialist requirements within an institution of excellence like AIPT requires nothing short of specialists, and not time serving generalists – therefore it is worthy to consider a dedicated cadre of APTC professionals who are at the cutting edge of scientific knowhow and advancement in the said field. This will also relieve the stress borne of manpower shortages in the combat units that are usually falling short of boots-on-ground, especially in combat commitments.

Similarly the ‘train-the-trainer’ approach of the super-specialist cadre & institutions can have a cascading impact in the health of the entirety of the Indian Army, without necessarily compromising on the ‘field strength’ – this super specialization would also instill a sense of pride, élan and preference in those who seek to join the APTC, in a permanent capacity.

Maj Gen VK Madhok, 1st Course JSW/NDA, Infantry

Having attended both the Basic & Advance Officers PT course at erstwhile ASPT, I would largely attribute my present fitness state at 90 yrs age  to what I learnt during these Officer PT courses.

The OPTC Course must be restored to its original place. Maximum YOs of all arms & services must be trained to attain and enhance their technical knowledge of PT & sports and implement the same in the training curriculum of all ranks in their respective units as the Unit PT & Sports Officers.

Without OPTC  qualified officers even the basic knowledge of the concerned subjects, as laid down in military (PT) pamphlets issued by DGMT & ARTRAC cannot be implemented. Heads of All Arms & Services must take this vital aspect of training seriously and demand OPTC vacancies to have qualified officers in their recruit training centres and units.

The APTC Officer shortfall must be made up with a selection of high quality, dedicated and committed  officers that would be an asset to the Corps and the Army. Quality of officers must be given overriding priority rather than just filling vacancies.

It will be the quality of the officers that are sent for OPTC courses and those transferred to APTC that will make the critical difference to the Corps and Army. High professionalism and commitment for APTC & AIPT, Pune coupled with able and effective management of officer cadre can change the present status quo. DGMT & Army Cdr ARTRAC should coordinate their efforts and with support of MS & AG to start a process of transformation in the Army  with foresight & vision.

Lt Col MK Guptaray, Infantry (Sikh Regt)

I totally agree with Gen VK Madhok to have more OPTC Courses. I would also suggest, post Galwan, to start a basic and advanced  Unarmed Combat (UAC) & Martial Arts Course, for all ranks to create a nucleus for unit training. We do have UAC training in commando course but that is not enough. There is hardly any training in this regard at unit level.

Experience gained in Galwan highlights that physical fitness is the basic of soldiering which automatically develops self confidence and capability to withstand battlefield rigour. These courses must be opened and given due importance.

Brig Pradeep Sharma, ex Infantry (Jat Regt), OPTC (AXI), ex Instr IMA, Sqn cdr NSG 51 (SAG)

  1. Physical fitness needs to be given continued support as a basic need of soldiering. Of late formations and units have neglected this, perhaps due to pressure of local commitments?
  2. Apart from keeping one fit, this adds value to officer man relationships where the officers can prove themselves to establish respect amongst men.
  3. Sports are an added factor, rubbing shoulders with troops encourages informal interaction and establishes the desired rapport, team spirit and bonding.
  4. APTC as such is running into rough weather due to various factors which have been addressed as such; however, a few issues given below may be considered:-

a) Open the postings in a form of ERE or Instructional posting without change of Regiment. Only those with an AXI grade should be considered.They could revert back after completion of tenure.

b) Shortfall of PT course qualified personnel in Units could be made up by an increase in vacancies for JCO/NCOs.

There is nothing so technical that today's JCO or NCO cannot understand. This should take care of both issues’ officer shortages as well as lack of trained Instructors at Units'.

5. Through opportunities for re-employment with national sports institutes or state level, schools and colleges too may be considered.

6. For those who excel in sports may be sent to special camps with NIS to train and others be given an opportunity to undertake courses for Referees / officials or Coaching.

I feel that these measures will popularize the issues and address the shortages too.

Lt Col Vajiram, ex PTO NSG, ex Instructor AIPT & Gymnastics Specialist

Unarmed Combat (UAC) Training  must  be incorporated for all courses including OPTC. Latest military oriented fighting styles like Krav maga from Israel and Pekiti Tirsia Kali (PKT) from the Philippines that were conducted and introduced in NSG must be taught to all recruits, cadets and combatants through qualified instructors from AIPT and NSG. APTC instructors should be detailed to qualify in NSG & Para SF units and conduct full-fledged courses at AIPT.

NSG Commandos (File Photo)

Air Mshl PP Rajkumar, ex AOC-in-C CAC, CINCAN and Dep Comdt NDA

AIPT alumni hold a special place in the Officers Training Academies in India. Even though each service has its own version of PT Instructors, AIPT Instructors are certainly a class apart. Your observation on teaching some theory on sports and sports medicine is valid. Your suggestion that we need to learn from the practices followed by the armed forces of other countries is also valid.

So, in spite of the perceived decline in physical standards, the Army officers have been doing well consistently……the training imparted to them with the reduced PT courses has been adequate.

Lt Gen Ashok Joshi, ex DGMT & Col Comdt APTC

For the Army, ‘hardihood’ is as important as physical fitness. Physical fitness, if it were to end only in ‘athletic’ excellence, would not suffice for the Army. In the hands of the immature, hardihood training can easily turn into an exercise in sadism or masochism. Care needs to be taken that this does not happen.

Hardihood training is best imparted by setting an example, and gradually, until it is internalized by the individual, and becomes a matter of pride. Hardihood should be more prized than athleticism.

The former can get news headlines but the latter is most likely to improve unit performance in war. This training too needs to be carried out gradually so that injuries are avoided. Hardihood training also calls for a scientific approach and experimentation.

Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh, ex SOC-in-C, 1st Course JSW/NDA

What is the definition of physical fitness in the present day and future context? Do we need the same physical fitness for an officer manning a ration stand or posted in an Ordnance Depot or repairing vehicles in a field formation as compared to one doing hand to hand fighting with the Chinese at Galwan?

Even in the Infantry, the physical standard for Commandos is much higher than the regular Infantry. So we do distinguish as regards Physical fitness even among officers in Infantry, depending on the role and give special training where needed.

Should Corps of Signals officers be spending more time on doing BPET or mastering Electronic and cyber warfare? Once we decide on these four aspects, we can perhaps rework the definition of Physical fitness.

Maybe we can have mandatory PT courses for Fighting arms and optional courses for support services with somewhat lower standards? It is all a question of time to be spent on various subjects or activities based on very simple analysis: ‘Must’ do, ‘Should’ do and ‘Could’ do!

PT in quite a few units is a farce! Units do not have PT equipment; physical culture is lacking. There is a dire need to improve things at unit level. After all, the Army comprises units, which is the basic brick on which the edifice of the Army stands! An objective and meaningful debate is called for to discuss with 'an open mind', keeping in view future warfare needs.

Col CM Chavan, ex AAD

A physically unfit officer does not have the same respect that a fit officer enjoys from the troops he is serving with in the unit. This further manifests in a decisive leadership from that officer in the battlefield or in times of need.

It is a fact that in the absence of officer participation in the games played by the troops, a very distinct divide has emerged between the two categories over a period of neglect. The OPTC should be a must for an officer and the required number of courses should be conducted at the AIPT.

Col Melville D’Souza, ex Instr IMA

The importance of physical fitness in the present Army is largely relegated to the Training Academies and is being given less importance in day-to-day life. The evidence is there to see with a large percentage of failures in the unit BPET runs, failures to the level of 20% in the Infantry Commando Courses and more in the courses for the other Arms.

The excessive stress on physical fitness in the Academies as well as Regimental Centres takes the fun out of physical fitness and the soldier attempts to avoid any physical exertion in military life unless compelled to do so.

Today, the Young Officer becomes a Coy commander very much early in service and in the garb of supervision, avoids the physical training activities. The modern technology in weapons does not require an endurance of superlative standards but physical fitness has no compromise.

A serving Col (Infantry)

  1. Category A&B establishments must have APTC officers as PTOs.
  2. Units must invest in a Core Team of JCOs & NCOs qualified to conduct PT in a unit.
  3. All YOs must be introduced to basics of correct nuances of PT during YO course.
  4. Other Arms and Services must not be made to undergo Ghatak/Commando course as the skills learnt are/will never be used by them.
  5. Skills and knowledge learnt at OPTC course will atleast be used by them for self  development and promoting and maintainence of fitness of troops.

Cdr M. N. Yeolekar, ex Principal Naval College of Engineering

What is needed is a minimum physical standard and endurance in every officer. To maintain that, he should daily devote a reasonable time to PT/Sports. As suggested, there may be a need to revise the physical attributes of an officer keeping in view the job specification of the Armed Forces of the twenty-first century.

YO traversing obstacle during 'Commando Course' in Belgaum

Critical Issues That Need Attention

  1. Majority of Army units do not have OPTC qualified PTOs.
  2. Reduction of OPTC courses from 6 to 2 during the past 15-20 years has drastically  reduced the strength of qualified Unit PTOs in the Army.
  3. 35-40% deficiency of APTC Officers has deprived Recruit Training Centres of APTC PTOs and Command HQs of Supervising Officers Physical & Recreational Training (SOP&RT) in GS Training Branch.
  4. Presently the DGMT is the Col Comdt of APTC. AIPT, Pune is under ARTRAC. Earlier both were under the DGMT.
  5. Technical knowledge of PT, Sports & Allied subjects of all ranks including Officers has been very poor in  the Army as theory subjects are not taught in recruit training centres and officer training academies like NDA, IMA & OTA.

The Way Forward

  1. Need for realistic vision for conduct of PT & Sports in the Army.
  2. Need for 'more professional' career management of APTC officers including grant of  SL APTC commission from ranks,transfer from Regular Cadre and postings on ERE/deputation.
  3. Creation of high quality broad base of OPTC qualified officers for Army through vacancies to all Arms & Services  to select talented and proficient officers in PT & Sports.
  4. OPTC courses are to be made attractive and given the weightage of other  professional courses to improve the quality of officers attending OPTC and consequently improve the PT & Sports standards in units, centres and academies.
  5. Enhance professional technical knowledge of PT, Sports & Allied subjects with introduction of theory periods as part of training in recruit training centers and academies.

The Last Word

AIPT & APTC Depot, Pune

The true present state of affairs of  the Army with regard  to conduct of PT & Sports for recruits, cadets and combatants has been revealed through an objective and holistic analysis supported with adequate input from the environment comprising both serving officers and veterans upto 1st course JSW/NDA.

This present state has not been reached overnight. It is the cumulative effect of many  years of oversight or change in priorities. Rather than retrospect how and why it happened and blame some of our predecessors it would be prudent to now take stock of the situation and start a process of reconciliation, review and reform with a holistic approach, road map and realistic vision for the future.

The concerned Army hierarchy must honestly and truthfully debate, discuss and deliberate all the intricate issues highlighted in this article with all those responsible for planning, coordinating and training of recruits, cadets and combatants and reach an understanding or consensus to start a process of improving the overall fitness and health of all ranks, ultimately dovetailed to enhance their performance in their respective fields.

APTC to Celebrate 'Platinum Jubilee'

On 1 Jul 2021 AIPT, Pune & APTC will be completing 75 years of glorious service to the nation and due to celebrate its Platinum Jubilee. The outstanding and spectacular achievements of the APTC and contribution of AIPT during these 75 years need to be remembered and appreciated by the Army, Services and Nation. It is an auspicious occasion for all concerned  to revive, renew and revitalise this mother institution of PT & Sports and the Corps to facilitate its onerous responsibility of keeping all ranks of the Army fighting fit!

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