by Editorial

With the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) gearing up to hold the next round of military dialogue shortly to reduce tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said that talks with China for peaceful resolution of the border crisis would continue even as Indian troops are “standing firm” in forward areas.

Addressing the army’s top leadership during the ongoing army commanders’ conference, Singh said soldiers would be equipped with best weapons and gear to carry out their duties.

“It is our national responsibility to ensure availability of best weapons, equipment and clothing to our troops braving extreme weather and hostile forces to defend our territorial integrity,” a statement issued by the army quoted Singh as saying.

The border row is in its sixth month and efforts to de-escalate on LAC have yielded no results. The 8th round of military talks between corps commander-ranked officers from the two armies is expected to be held soon to reduce border tensions.

In his address at the biannual conference, Singh complimented the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for its efforts to build infrastructure in forward areas and working under difficult conditions to connect far-flung areas.

“The Indian Army’s apex leadership is comprehensively deliberating upon all aspects of existing security scenarios, situation along the borders and in the hinterland and challenges for the present security apparatus. In addition, the conference is also focussing on issues pertaining to organisational restructuring, logistics, administration and human resource management,” the army statement said. The four-day conference ends on Thursday.

The statement said Singh reiterated the stellar role played by the army in guarding the country’s borders and fighting terrorism, apart from providing assistance to the civil administration whenever needed.

“Actions of Indian Army truly ensure the integrity and sovereignty of our great nation,” the statement quoted the minister as saying.

Singh said that the creation of the chief of defence staff and the department of military affairs was a “momentous decision” and the concept of integrated battle groups and theatre commands would be “game changers in the way Indian Armed forces fight future wars.”

Commenting on the current situation along the Northern borders, the Defence Minister expressed confidence that while troops are standing firm, the ongoing talks for peaceful resolution of the crisis will continue.

Rajnath Singh complimented the efforts of BRO working under difficult conditions to connect far flung areas so that our citizens living in those locations are connected and facilitate faster development. Referring to the situation along the Western borders, he complimented the Indian Army’s response to cross border terrorism and ceasefire violations.

He mentioned, “I compliment the excellent synergy between the CAPF/ Police forces and the Army in tackling the menace of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. It is due to the synergised operations in the Valley that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is moving to a stable and peaceful environment conducive for overall growth and development”.

Rajnath Singh emphasised, “The Government is focused on enhancing combat capability and ensuring welfare of soldiers”. He said that the Delegation of Financial Powers – 2016, Defence Procurement Manual and the Army HQ Restructuring proposals are currently under review and will be finalised soon. He also remarked that “The announcement of Atmanirbhar Bharat and notification of negative list of imports are big steps towards self-reliance in defence which offer a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to meet the future requirements of the Armed Forces”. He reiterated that “There are no budgetary constraints for capability development and meeting other requirements of the Army”.

The Defence Minister explained that the decision to grant permanent commission to women in the Army is another significant decision that will ensure equal opportunities for professional growth to all officers irrespective of their gender.

He reaffirmed the faith of the billion-plus citizens of the Indian Army as one of the most trusted and inspiring organisations in the country. He reiterated the stellar role played by the Army in guarding our borders and fighting terrorism apart from providing assistance to the civil administration whenever called for. He also appreciated the role played by Indian Armed Forces in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

He remarked that “Actions of Indian Army truly ensure the integrity and sovereignty of our great nation”. The Raksha Mantri complimented the forces for the high standard of operational preparedness and capabilities which he experienced firsthand during his visits to forward areas.

He also paid tributes to the bravehearts of Galwan, Kashmir and the North East for making the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of the motherland. He complimented the significant contributions made by the Army in defence diplomacy to further our national security interests by creating sustainable cooperative relationships with foreign armies. Rajnath Singh appreciated the Army’s efforts to develop niche technologies in collaboration with civil industries including premier educational institutions. He also complimented the in-house development of the “Secure Application for Internet (SAI)”, an application for secure messaging within the Indian Army.

Talking about the CDS & DMA, Rajnath Singh said, “Creation of CDS and DMA is a momentous decision in Indian history and the concept of Integrated Battle Groups, Integrated Theatre Commands and Integrated Air Defence Commands will be game changers in the way Indian Armed forces fight future wars”. He further stated that “These were a result of the decision by the Prime Minister to undertake decisive reforms for transformational change to improve operational capability”.

He also alluded to the establishment of the Defence Cyber and Space Agencies which will enhance the kinetic potential of the forces. Rajnath Singh remarked that the Government is committed to corporatise the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to enhance their efficiency and accountability. He also assured the veteran community that all issues related to Ex Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), which he said was one of the government’s flagship schemes, will be addressed expeditiously. The recent decisions to enhance monetary assistance to Next of Kin of all categories of Battle Casualties from existing Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 8 lakhs granted under ABCWF and removal of minimum service clause for enhanced ordinary family pension are some of the major decisions taken to alleviate problems of our families. He concluded by saying that “The Government is committed to facilitate the Army in their forward movement on road to reforms and capability development”.

Meanwhile, four-day long Army Commanders’ Conference, an apex level biannual event, which formulates important policy decisions through collegiate deliberations in the Indian Army, began on 26 October in New Delhi. It will conclude on 29 October.

The event is attended by senior officers of the Army including the VCOAS, all Army Commanders, Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) of the Army HQ and other senior officers.

Deliberations were held on matters related to Human Resource Management on the first day of the conference. The conference was addressed by the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, and all the three Service Chiefs (Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff) on 27 October. There was a focus on in-depth discussions on the various agenda points projected by the various Army Commanders, including an update by (Commander-In-Chief Andaman & Nicobar) CINCAN.

The Director General of Border Roads (DGBR) will give an update on the various infrastructure development projects being undertaken by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and allied formations on the concluding day of the conference. Automation initiatives to optimise utilisation of manpower at various levels of the Army will also be discussed. The conference will close with the presentation of Sports Trophy and Flight Safety Trophy, followed by the closing address by the COAS.

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