The Army Commanders’ Conference, an apex level biannual event, is being held in New Delhi from 26 to 29 October 2020. During the event, 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 focusing on issues pertaining to organisational restructuring, logistics, administration and human resource management. The main highlight of the third day of the conference was the address by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, to the senior leadership of the Indian Army.
The Defence Minister reaffirmed the faith of the billion-plus citizens on 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. Singh 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 minister 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.
He 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.
Commenting on the current situation along the Northern borders, Singh expressed confidence that while troops are standing firm, the ongoing talks for peaceful resolution of crisis will continue. Expressing his gratitude, he remarked “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”. The minister complimented the efforts of the Border Roads Organisation (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. The Defence Minister said “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”.
The minister said that the “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 remarked that “These were a result of the decision by Hon’ble Prime Minster 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.
He said that “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 Raksha Mantri remarked 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.
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 monitory 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”.