About MES

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1) Brief History of MES
A military works branch under Inspector General was raised as part of PWD In 1871. In 1881 military works branch was transferred to Military Department Defence as there was hardly any presence of Navy, Air Force and other wings of Defence Department then. By 1887 all military works came to Military works Branch. MES was created in 1923 on Army HQ establishment and E-in-C of Indian Army was given additional charge of MES with a direction that Army officers posted in MES shall be paid at MES rates. At that point of time there was no civilian cadre in MES. In 1948, MES was put under MOD with the intention of converting military posts to civilian posts .Thereafter, in 1959, DGW was asked to report to QMG instead of E-in-C. Subsequently, after conflict with China in1962 when there was large-scale expansion of MES, DGW was again asked to report to E-in-C. Thus DGW (like CPWD) who headed MES was made to report to either QMG or E-in-C at different points of time. In 1963 a large number of civilian Group A officers were recruited through UPSC. Since its creation, MES has grown more than 100 times but vested interest of Corps of Engineers has prevented installation of dedicated head of MES, in spite of the fact that it is the largest construction agency under Union of India. In fact, it has been denied its own HQ both at National level as well as Command level.

E-in-C has been holding additional charge of MES in addition to his own duties as Head of Corps of Engineers (earlier known as Miners and Sappers) since 1962.
2) Charter of MES
MES undertakes construction of new infrastructure works and their subsequent maintenance for Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guards, Ordnance Factories, DRDO and other organizations associated with the defence establishments. The works executed by the MES are of permanent nature intended to have long life span. MES has successfully constructed permanent infrastructure for Naval Bases, Army Cantonments, Air Force Stations, Ordnance Factories, Coast Guard and DRDO. Construction of Airfields, Aircraft maintenance and storage facilities, Naval dockyards, jetties, wharfs, radar communication stations, Coast guard stations, DRDO laboratories for high precision experiments, Missile storage and launching facilities, Large Ammunition and other Storage facilities, Factory Buildings for production of defence equipments and ammunition, Residential buildings, office buildings, Hospital buildings, Air Conditioning facilities, Electric supply infrastructure, water supply infrastructure, sewage treatment and disposal facilities and Road infrastructure are the works typically undertaken by the MES. Continuous focus on development and creation of defence infrastructure, MES has since grown to its present state with an annual workload of more than Rs 12000 crores. MES is also responsible for maintenance of existing defence infrastructure worth more than Rs 2 lakh crores.
3) Human Resource in MES
MES is an inter-service organization, predominantly manned by the personnel from civil stream. Out of total strength of approximately 80,000 plus, about 86% personnel working in MES are from Civilian personnel and the remaining are from Corps of Engineers of Army. A brief on personnel coming from two different streams is as under:

a) Civilian Personnel: All the industrial personnel are civilian and majority of officials at supervisory and higher level are from Civilian personnel. There is no institutional arrangement for training of civilian personnel constituting about 86% of its work force and most of the personnel acquire skills from on job training as they grow in the organisation. Some civilian officers are promoted from supervisory levels and majority of civilian officers are recruited by the UPSC through all India competitive examination and some civilian officers on promotion from supervisory levels. Civilian officers of various cadres constitute about 81% of total officer strength and its main constituent is Engineering Cadre called Indian Defence Service of Engineers (IDSE), which mostly consists of engineers recruited from prestigious Engineering Services examination. A large number of officers are engineering graduates/ post graduates from IITs/NITs and other prestigious institutions. Although there is no institutional training arrangement for training of officers in MES as yet, they grow in the department by acquiring skills from on-job experience and training programme sponsored by the Govt of India for other civil servants. IDSE Cadre officer also acquire additional skills and experience from their deputation on CSS to various Govt organisations, DMRC, NHAI, etc. Officers of IDSE Cadre are highly experienced in works matter and constitute core strength of the organisation. Civilian officers are mostly deployed for middle management jobs and are kept out of top management level by posting them to insignificant appointments when they do reach that level.

b) Army Personnel: Officers, JCOs and ORs are posted to MES at various levels to work side by side with their civilian counterparts. SL officers, ORs and JCOs are posted to MES after receiving basic training in the work that they are supposed to do in MES and they acquire necessary skill as they remain posted in MES for most of their service life. However, Indian Commissioned officers from Corps of Engineers of Army are posted on tenure basis, for training purpose. These officers are primarily screened and trained for combat skills and their core job is construction of temporary structures for limited use during war such as road, shelters, creation and removal of obstacles, erection and dismantling of steel bridges, etc and mining and de-mining including bomb disposal. These officers are posted to MES directly at various levels often without any prior experience in MES works and entrusted with the key positions that are vital for good health of the organisation. Army officers posted in MES constitute about 19.1% of total officer strength but all the key appointments at the policy making level, except DG(Pers) are held by them.
4) Structure of the organisation
LEVEL I (Apex Level): MES is headed by the Engineer-in-Chief of Corps of Engineers of Indian Army, an officer of the rank of Lieutenant General, as an additional charge. It is very rare that the officer posted as E-in-C had adequate exposure in MES work services; often they have no prior experience or very little experience. He is assisted by the following officers:

(i) Director General (Personnel) A Civilian officer of IDSE Cadre of HAG rank.
(ii) Director General of Works (Maj. Gen)
(iii) ADGE (Personnel) (Maj. Gen.)
(iv) ADGE (ESP) (Maj. Gen.)
(v) ADGE(Army) (Maj Gen)

Out of five posts four are reserved for Army officers of the rank of Maj Gen and they are to look after the complete functioning of MES works under the E-in-C and none of these four posts are held on MES establishment. Maj Gen is equivalent to SAG level officer in civilian hierarchy and thus junior to all the Civilian ADGs (HAG level) and many of the civilian CEs (SAG level). The officers posted as DGW/ADGW are much less experienced in works matter, when compared to civilian ADGs and CEs in the department. Civilian CEs, who may be senior to them, are posted to work under them along with junior level officers of various cadres.

An additional post of ADG (Arbitration) for IDSE Cadre officer, two posts of ADG for Surveyor Cadre officers and one post of ADG for Architect Cadre officer have recently been created. All these posts are HAG level posts but it is proposed to keep them out of mainstream policy making by marginalising them on sides, as in case of the other ADGs of IDSE Cadre.

LEVEL II (Command CEs): MES is organised into six commands under the E-in-C. Army Officers from Corps of Engineers of Maj Gen rank, who are staff officers of their Army Commander, hold charge of MES additionally. They are not born on strength of MES and their primary job is to perform the duties of head of corps of engineers in the respective command theatre. As far as the MES is concerned the command CE deals with the personnel matters like posting, transfer, records, promotion and discipline of subordinates within the geographical area of their respective Commands. Their role in the works services is limited to monitoring of works and budget (Army works only, For Navy, Air Force, R&D, Ordnance Factory works there is no such arrangement for monitoring) as actual planning, tendering and execution of works is handled by Zonal Chief Engineers. However, command CEs, monitor the work of Zonal CEs and assess the performance of Zonal CEs as their immediate superior, although he may be junior in SAG Rank. Most of the officer posted as command CEs do not have adequate experience of MES Works and quite often they do not possess any MES experience. SAG level officers of various civilian cadres, who may be senior to him, are posted to work under him along with junior level officers of various cadres.

ADG (OF & DRDO): This office, located at Secunderabad, was raised to park one of the IDSE cadre officer promoted to HAG Grade. Duties and responsibilities are same as for command CEs without combat duties & personnel matters of MES subordinates. That leaves practically nothing substantial to be done by the ADG office.

ADG (Design & Consultancy): Erstwhile office of CE (Design and Consultancy) located at Pune has been upgraded to accommodate a HAG level officer of IDSE cadre, away from MES HQ at Delhi. The office is involved in rendering specialist consultancy services to various zone on as required basis and kept out of policy making functions.

LEVEL III (Zonal CEs): Zones are headed by a SAG level officer from IDSE Cadre or a Brigadier from Corps of Engineers. Zones are organized to provide dedicated service to a particular user in their area of responsibility, which may not necessarily be within a command. There are zonal CEs whose area of responsibility falls under all the six commands. Zones may be activated or closed based on the actual requirement from time to time. An Army Command generally has three to six Zonal Chief Engineers, except Southern Command which has more than twice the number because of its vast expanse. CE Zones and formations under them are fully responsible for planning and execution of all the works and their subsequent maintenance. Accordingly, CE Zones and their subordinate offices are fully accountable for non performance in all respects. Zonal Chief Engineers are assisted by both Civilian/ Army officers of equivalent ranks, that is, Directors (SE), Jt/ Dy Directors (EE SG/ EE)) and Asst Directors/ Addl Astt Directors AEE/ AE). In the Architect cadre, the Zonal CEs are provided with Senior Architect (SA) who is assisted by Architect (Arch), Deputy Arch (Dy Arch) and Asst. Architect (Gp ‘B’). Similarly the Surveyor Cadre has the SE(QS&C) (JAG), assisted by EE(QS&C)(STS) and AEE/ AE (QS&C) (JTS). As per rules CE zone posts are to be shared in the ratio of 50:50 between IDSE Cadre and Corps of Engineers but in practice the ratio is tilted in favour of Army side officers obviously due to blessing of E-in-C who is on their side. While a civilian CE is highly experienced as he reaches that position after toiling hard at each level of lower hierarchy, no qualification and experience has been laid down for posting of Brigs as CE. Majority of the Brigs are first timers in MES or having very little experience.

LEVEL IV Commander Works Engineers (CWEs): Under each Zonal Chief Engineer there are 3 to 4 Commander Works Engineers (CWE) tenable by SEs(JAG SG grade) of IDSE Cadre, as well as Colonels from Army side. These posts are to be manned in the ratio of 50:50 by the IDSE Cadre and Army officers; the ratio is generally maintained. CWE is assisted by DCWE (Lt Cols/JAG/STS), ACWE (JTS). CWE is fully competent to deal with all maintenance matters pertaining to the Garrison Engineers (Lt Cols/ EE) placed under him. CsWE are competent authorities to plan, tender and execute all works costing up to Rs 150 lakhs. As in case of CE Zone, a CWE from IDSE cadre is highly experienced due to his prior experience at lower levels of hierarchy (About 20 plus years) but no QR has been specified for the officer from Army stream. Army officer posted as CWE are often without adequate or no prior MES experience.

LEVEL V Garrison Engineers (GEs): This is most critical level in MES organisation as intensive supervision of works and programmes is done at this level. Quality of executed works largely depends on the efficiency, knowledge and hard work by GE and his subordinates. Quality checks, Measurements and payments to the agencies are done at this level only. It is therefore necessary that this level is manned by an experienced person having adequate experience. Manning ratio between an IDSE Cadre and Army is kept generally at 50:50. However, as against experienced IDSE officers who gain necessary experience at lower level, Majors / Lt Cols without any MES experience are mostly posted as GEs.

LEVEL VI Assistant Garrison Engineers (AGEs): This is lowest level in the organisational hierarchy of MES. Direct supervision of works, measurements and preparation and processing of bills is done by the officials working in this office. This level is manned by a newly recruited IDSE Cadre officer after initial training, a civilian officer promoted from supervisory level, An IC Captain from Corps of Engineers and also SL commission officer of Lt/Capt/Maj rank from Army. Gaining of experience at this level is very vital to be able to function as GE efficiently. Although a civilian officer of IDSE Cadre has to mandatorily perform at this level to qualify for higher level post, the same is not necessary for Army officers. SL officers, who gain experience at this level are not allowed to be posted as GE in Army scheme of things and very few IC Captains are available for posting as AGEs due to acute shortage of young officers for combat duties, leading to non utilization of ARMY quota.

ADGTE: This is an independent organisation, directly working under QMG. They are entrusted with the work of carrying out independent intensive examination of works being carried out by MES formations. Top post of ADG is reserved for a Maj Gen Rank officer from Corps of Engineers and the rest is manned by mix of Army and civilian cadre officers as in MES.

Panel of Arbitrators:This is a pool of officers from Army and Civil streams working independently in quasi judicial capacity to resolve disputes that arise between the contractors and the department. Brig from Army stream and CE from IDSE and Surveyor Cadre civil streams are generally posted to work as arbitrators. Two of the ADGs (HAG level) of surveyor cadre are proposed to be consumed here after upgrading the posts.
5) Mega Projects undertaken by MES
(i) Married Accommodation Project: A failed project Directorate General of Married Accommodation Project (DG MAP) was raised to construct married accommodation for the three services, with the aim of eradicating the deficiency of married accommodation for service personnel. The MAP was setup to fulfill the promise made to the Armed Forces by the then PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Total deficiency of about two lakh dwelling units was proposed to be constructed within 5 years in four phases but the objective is yet to be met.

(ii) Infrastructure projects in Eastern Sector - A Non Starter

a) Infrastructure development plan in eastern command was sanctioned by MOD on 27 Oct 2010. CCS approved the strengthening of MES establishment for the same and accorded go ahead sanction of Rs 368.0 Cr (5% of project cost) so as to complete the projects in fixed time frame of 334 weeks.

b) Even after lapse of more than 4 years, since sanction, none of the major work has started on ground and total expenditure in last 4 years is less than 20 Crs as against Rs 7347.70 Cr total planned. The delay in planning has also resulted in increase in cost of the works.

c) The project cannot be completed in the targeted time frame and is expected to meet same fate as MAP.

d) No lesson has been learnt from failure of MAP and once again less experienced army officers have been entrusted with the top management job. Policy, processes and HR frame work is being decided by few rather inexperienced service officers and highly experienced civilian officers have been kept out.

(iii) Other infrastructure projects – Modernisation of CODs & Military Hospitals: Old and dilapidated Military infrastructure needs large scale and urgent upgrade and financial support for the same has already been agreed by the Govt. These projects are being undertaken by roping in rather in-experienced Army Officers at the top and keeping senior & experienced officers of civil stream at bay. The projects are progressing at snail pace endangering national security and at extra cost to the national exchequer.
6) Problems in MES
a) Part time head of the department: E-in-C is holding additional charge of MES and his main job is to function as head of Corps of Engineers and oversee their war preparedness. The additional charge was given when the MES organisation was very small and it was feasible to look after both. MES has grown many folds since then and it is now many times larger than Corps of Engineers. Duality of charge in one person is now hurting the efficiency of MES as it gets secondary attention, although larger and perhaps no less important as it spends a significant amount of public money. There is therefore an urgent need to create separate head for MES.

b) Inexperienced Top Management: As already mentioned almost all the senior level appointments such as E-in-C, DGW, DG MAP, DDG MAP, ADG Army, CEs Command etc have been reserved for army officers who generally have no experience in handling infrastructure projects. There is no participation of experienced civilian officers of ADG level in policy formulation ignoring their vast experience in the field. Failure of Married Accommodation Project (MAP) and North Eastern infrastructure projects which is still a non starter are the live examples of mis-handling of mega-projects by inexperienced army officers.

c) Lack of sense of belongingness: The army officers are posted on all important positions in the department on tenure basis and do not have any sense of belongings to the organisation. The civilian officers who belong to the department are marginalized by posting them to rather unimportant positions.

d) A dumping ground of Superseded Army Officers:The superseded officers especially in the middle management level at the rank of Col / Col (TS) /Lt Col are posted to MES and are generally de-motivated as they have nothing to look forward. Obviously, much contribution cannot be expected from them.

e) Equivalency: There is a severe crisis in all the offices as regards to the day to day functioning due to the various issues such as equivalency between army and civilian officers, inter-se seniority, etc. This has led to a hostile working environment in the offices and is one of the major factors leading to overall non-performance of zonal CEs. The issue has been taken to courts from time to time by the affected civilian officers but the court judgements have not been implemented in true spirit by the successive E-in-Cs. This has resulted in a kind of stalemate situation, affecting efficiency of the organisation adversely.

f) Disparity in pay and perks: Army officers posted to MES for non combatant work are still provided with all the perks and facilities such as subsidised accommodation, electricity, water, ration and various allowances. The civilian officers who are doing same work under same conditions are paid at civil rates without any extra perks and allowances that are paid to army officers. This disparity is in violation of fundamental right of equal pay for equal work and is cause for discontentment amongst civilian officers.

g) After protracted requests, a training facility for MES officials from civil service stream has been sanctioned to be set up as a separate wing in College of Military Engineering Pune but the same is yet to take concrete shape and there are apprehensions of its effectiveness in achieving the desired goals.
7) Studies on MES Structure
Various studies, from time to time have suggested structural changes in MES but E-in-C branch never made any serious attempt to implement them at the cost of efficiency of the organization. Excess Army Officers are employed in MES without approval of cadre controlling authority for vested interests. Some of major recommendations of these studies are as under:

A. Estimates Committee of Lok Sabha
Estimate committee of 2nd Lok Sabha under the chairmanship of Smt Sucheta Kriplani carried out first study on MES in 1957 & suggested complete civilianization but this recommendation was not accepted. Another study was undertaken by estimates committee of 7th Lok Sabha in 1982, which made following important recommendations:

(a) Recommendation No 74: – Senior Army officers posted to MES should have adequate experience in MES at the level of AGE/GE. MOD had assured the committee vide OM no 17C (1)/82/D(works II) dt 1.02.1983 that the issue of guidelines on posting of Corps of Engineers to MES is under consideration. These guidelines have still not been issued in spite of provision made in Para 12 of Statuary rules IDSE vide SRO 95.

(b) Recommendation Nos 75, 77 and 78:-
The committee had observed and accepted by MOD that there is great frustration amongst civilian officers. The committee also observed that since 1947 when civilian service was constituted, its cadre management remained neglected and MOD has not done enough to rectify this sorry state of affairs. It was also recommended and accepted by MOD that through a series of cadre reviews promotional opportunities of civilian officers in MES should be brought at par with CPWD and Railways. The committee went to the extent of observing that civilian officers are not getting their dues and would like MOD to go into the matter. (MOD OM No 8(C1)/81/D/(civil) of 26 July 1982 and OM No17(1)/82/D(Wks II) of 15 Oct 1982 refers). During last 30 years, thereafter, the situation has only worsened.

(c) Recommendation No 86:- The committee had proposed that MOD should have some institutional arrangement to have across the table dialogue with civilian officers. In their OM of 15 Oct 1982, although the Ministry stated that regular meetings are held where both military and civilian officers are present to discuss cadre management but practically no such meetings has ever been held.

B. Fifth Pay Commission
Fifth Pay Commission asked for detailed presentation on structure of MES from MOD, but that job was given to E-in-C. After due deliberation the following recommendations were made by the commission:
Para 33.15 and33.16: Service personnel from MES should be withdrawn as an economy measure and also to make up deficiency of Army Units. Para50.102 and Para50.103:

(i) Civilian HAG level officer be designated as DG and Army Maj Gen be designated as Jt DG.
(ii) Head of MES should be a Civilian officer.

Para 50.106: Complete Civilianization of MES be set as a long time objective as is the trend World over.

C. V S Jafa Committee
In order to nullify the recommendation of V CPC, E-in-C prevailed upon COAS, who is not in the chain of command of MES, to appoint 30 member committee of Service officers in the year 2000 under GOC-in-C of Central Command. Fortunately, MOD did not take cognizance of this one sided report but in the year 2001, appointed a Committee under the chairmanship of Shri V.S.Jafa a retired civil servant. Here, again, one of the two members that was to be appointed by COAS was taken from Corps of Engineers and in turn the committee out sourced the drafting of its report to a retired Maj Gen of Corps of Engineers by inducting him as Chief Adviser. No representative of civilian officers was taken on the committee. Being dominated by officers of Corps of Engineers, the committee side stepped the main issue of civilianization of MES. It wanted to retain the supremacy of Corps of Engineers but at the same time was convinced that civilian officers are being unfairly treated. This consideration made them to recommend an impracticable proposal that there should be two type of relative seniority between civilian and Army officers i.e. Functional and Protocol. It recommended that functional seniority of Corps of Engineer officers to be retained. (Para 16 of chapter 3 refers). At the same time the committee made following recommendation to boost the morale of civilian officers: -

(a) The procedure for initiating preliminary inquiries for alleged irregularities should be same for Army and civilian officers and must be equable, forthright and unequivocal. MES regulation may be amended to include this provision. Further action on officers found guilt could take place under Army Act or Civil Service rules as the case may be. In 2001 based on suggestion made by IDSE association, MOD had proposed that Para 101 of RMES be amended to include such provision. However,, obviously to shield Army officers through Court of Inquiries, did not agree to this (Chapter13 Para 16 &17 refers).

(b) The proportion of higher appointments is tilted in favour of Army officers and distribution of post of Chief Engineer and above between Army and Civilian officers be made in ratio of their number (chapter 14 Para 15). Presently, there are 4 HAG and 41 SAG level engineer cadre civilian officers against 1 HAG (additional charge) and 9 SAG (6 additional charge) level army officers while only 1 out of 10 senior most MES appointments is held by a civilian officer.

(c) The committee recommended creation or post of DG (Projects) to be manned by HAG civilian officer who is presently posted as ADG DRDO as the later post need to be abolished due to inadequate load. (Chapter 1 Para 38, 39 & 48). Instead of accepting this recommendation a post of DG (MAP) that is identical to a DG (Project) was created and handed over to a SAG level army officer.

(d) ACRs of civilian officers should be endorsed only at two levels in MES chain of command to avoid undue pressure from user formations. This recommendation is in with policy of DOPT but no action has been taken, so far, to implement it because section dealing with ACRs of civilian officers is controlled by Army officers.

However, Ministry of Defence has now taken a considered view of Jafa Committee recommendations and have approved most of its recommendations for the growth of the department. The approval was accorded vide MoD OM No. 17/1/2002-Works II dated 10th Feb 2016 but its implementation is still to see light of the day.

Historically, there have been several recommendations by various Committees/MOD in favour of civilian officers which could relieve them from large scale discrimination, but vested interest of E-in-C and other officers of Corps of Engineers is preventing there implementation. The fact is that ‘A Committee / MOD proposes and E-in-C disposes.’
8) Need of the Hour
a) Recommendation made in para 33.15, 33.16, 50.102 and 50.103 of report of V CPC need to be revisited on Civilianization of MES especially when there is large scale shortage of officers in the Army.

b) MES, in addition to three wings of Military also serve other defence departments like DRDO, DGOF, Coast Guards, etc and as such should be renamed ‘DEFENCE ENGINEER SERVICES’ (DES) as was done in case of “DEFENCE ESTATE DEPARTMENT” that was earlier known as ‘MILITARY ESTATE DEPARTMENT’.

c) Rules for induction of Army officers on deputation in MES should be framed without delay to meet the requirement of statuary rule of SRO 95 and induction of each officer should have prior approval of cadre controlling authority. This matter is pending since 1982 when Estimates Committee of Lok Sabha was assured of such action.

d) Both Army as well as Civilian officers in hierarchy of MES having same Grade Pay should bear the same designation as being done in DRDO and DGOF i.e. both a SE and a colonel in staff appointment should be designated as ‘Director’ at Zonal Chief Engineer level. HAG+ officer who should head MES need to be designated as DG MES, HAG officers as Additional DG and SAG officers as Jt DG in line with recommendation of V CPC and also to bring them at par with CPWD. ACRs of both Army and civilian officers should be initiated and reviewed only by MES authorities. This is part of approved recommendation of Jafa committee and should be implemented forthwith.

e) MES should be provided with exclusive head of Apex level who may report to MOD. Till such time a Apex level officer is available or through up gradation, Senior Most IDSE officer with special pay should head MES as recommended in para 50 of report of V CPC. As per approved recommendation of Jafa Committee, ADG (OF&DRDO) is to be re-designated as DG(Projects) who shall look after the work of all CCEs in addition to its present role. This needs to be implemented forthwith.

f) Four ADG posts given to IDSE cadre have been kept literally in positions having no substantive role /authority/control except for DG Pers. Vast works experience of these officers needs to be utilised by entrusting them with the responsibility of manning appointments of DGW /DG MAP/DDG MAP managing works projects /policy formulation.

g) Army officer of SAG grade dealing Vigilance and Discipline of Civilian officers should report to DG (Pers) to ensure compliance of MOD letter of April 17 of 2000. This is part of approved recommendation of Jafa committee and should be implemented forthwith.

h) MES needs to be brought at par with CPWD as recommended by Estimates Committee in 1982. Like CPWD its head need to be designated as DG MES. Being an inter service Organization, separate DG MES HQ should be established to have full time Head of MES and free E-in-C of its dual role. This arrangement shall allow senior most civilian officer to officiate as head of MES in the absence of E-in-C till he remains head of MES. Similar bifurcation need to be resorted to at Command level to free CE Command of its dual role.

i) A high level committee of Secretaries may be appointed to recommend reorganization of MES. This committee should not include any member from Army or Civilian Cadres of MES. Senior retired and serving officers of Corps of Engineers and Civilian officers of MES may be allowed to put up their views before this Committee.