The committee also raised doubts on whether the prolonged use of Army in maintaining internal security is good for the armed forces.
Guwahati: A committee of defence experts has recommended appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff, who can be from either of the three forces — the Army, the Air Force or the Navy. The experts are part of a committee on Enhancing Defence Capabilities and Rebalancing Defence Expenditure, which is headed by Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekhatkar (Retd).
The committee submitted its report to the defence minister recently and has also suggested that there should be a joint training for the personnel of all three forces, and the planning and execution should also be carried out jointly.
In its 600-page exhaustive recommendations, the committee said it felt that appointment of a Chief of Staff would benefit the government — which will get single point advice — while in modern-day warfare, all forces must work jointly under a single command.
The 11-member committee, comprising senior retired defence personnel, including three lieutenant generals, one major general, two air marshals, one vice admiral, one rear admiral and two serving senior officers of the Government of India, has also called for improving infrastructure along the international border with China, particularly in the Northeast region. The committee also raised doubts on whether the prolonged use of Army in maintaining internal security is good for the armed forces.
Security sources told this newspaper that the committee, in its recommendation, has also stressed the need for an authority to development infrastructure along the vulnerable stretches of the international borders, particularly along the border with China in the Northeast Frontiers. Focus should be on development of roads, railway lines, airfields and helipads in the vulnerable areas for easy movement of troops in case of any emergency.
Sources pointed out that two new divisions of the Army have been deployed in the Northeast to deal with any eventuality with China, while there is a proposal for raising a new Corps of the Army. But, it will be of no use if adequate infrastructure to facilitate free movement of the troops is not created, security sources said.
Security sources said that the committee has also suggested taking the Army, Air Force and Navy into confidence while preparing the defence budget. This would also enable the forces in outlining their priorities.
The Committee also highlighted that the practice of making budgetary allotments on the basis of financial years was creating problems as even negotiations to procure defence equipment like aircraft, ship, etc, take a long time. The government should make arrangements for “roll on” plans and the allotments should be project-based and not financial year-based.
The committee also observed that stress should be laid on reducing the “fats” in the defence forces and stress should be given on increasing the number of combat personnel and reducing the number in administrative posts. The long supply chain should be cut and by doing that, the government can save huge sums of money, which can be utilised for procuring defence equipment, the committee recommended.