Pro­tect­ing In­dia

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Commentary -

In a sig­nif­i­cant de­fence re­form, a new in­te­grated in­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nism called the De­fence Planning Com­mit­tee has been set up un­der chair­man­ship of the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser. It is tasked with pre­par­ing a na­tional mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity strat­egy, assess­ing ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity risks and defin­ing se­cu­rity pri­or­i­ties. It will have on board the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary to the prime min­is­ter, chair­man chiefs of staff com­mit­tee, ser­vice chiefs, de­fence sec­re­tary, for­eign sec­re­tary and sec­re­tary (ex­pen­di­ture) in the finance min­istry. The com­po­si­tion of the com­mit­tee re­flects its goal of bring­ing both mil­i­tary and civil­ian com­po­nents of de­fence planning on one plat­form. This is ab­so­lutely vi­tal for a mod­ern de­fence strat­egy that is nim­ble and adapt­able to chang­ing se­cu­rity re­al­i­ties.

At present de­fence planning in In­dia is very dis­jointed, with lop­sided em­pha­sis on ac­qui­si­tions. There is lit­tle co­or­di­na­tion be­tween min­istries, while the bu­reau­cracy and the mil­i­tary are of­ten not on the same page. This leads to sit­u­a­tions as wit­nessed re­cently where the mil­i­tary sub­mit­ted to the par­lia­men­tary stand­ing com­mit­tee on de­fence that this year’s de­fence bud­get barely made room for mod­erni­sa­tion. There’s a yawn­ing gap be­tween the ex­pec­ta­tions of the armed forces and the diplo­matic pri­or­i­ties and fi­nan­cial ca­pac­ity of gov­ern­ment. The new com­mit­tee is ex­pected to bridge these var­i­ous needs, and re­fine rec­om­men­da­tions for de­fence pro­cure­ment by tak­ing a long-term view of se­cu­rity.

Func­tion­ally, the com­mit­tee will be aided by sub-com­mit­tees on pol­icy and strat­egy, plans and ca­pa­bil­ity de­vel­op­ment, de­fence diplo­macy and de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing ecosys­tem – so that de­fence planning isn’t con­fined to si­los. At a time when In­dia’s se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment is fast chang­ing with an as­sertive China in­creas­ingly flex­ing its mus­cle in In­dia’s geo-strate­gic do­main, in­te­gra­tion ought to be the buzz­word within the de­fence es­tab­lish­ment. This is the only way pro­cure­ment can be stream­lined and de­ci­sions im­ple­mented in a timely fash­ion.

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