Major Development was Appointment of CDS and Creation of DMA

NEWS ROUND UP 2021 - PARTS 2

Opinion

By Sri Krishna

New Delhi: One of the most significant development in the year past was the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and creation of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) which was indeed a transformative defence reform undertaken by any Government since Independence.

Being seized of its import, the DMA took on the responsibility of spearheading several reforms within the military establishment towards ensuring optimum utilisation of scarce national resources, enhancing synergy and jointness between the Services and steering the modernisation of the military to face the ‘ever changing challenges of modern warfare’.

Under DMA, the Logistics structure is being fully revamped to make it more efficient. In this regard, three Joint Services Study Groups (JSSG) are developing common logistic policies for services that will enhance all supply chain functions such as planning, procurement, inventory-maintenance, distribution, disposal and documentation. A pilot project based on the establishment of Joint Logistic Nodes (JLN) each at Mumbai, Guwahati and Port Blair has already rolled off.

A concerted effort is being made to move forward from a single service approach to integrated planning and execution. Towards this, three Joint Doctrines have been formulated in the last one year, while four new joint doctrines namely Capstone, Space, Cyber and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) are at an advantage stage.

In order to enhance Combat Capability and balance defence expenditure, more than 270 logistic installations of the Indian Army have been closed or scaled down, resulting in substantial savings to the exchequer, besides increasing the “Teeth to Tail” ratio. A holistic review of the training methodology is also underway to modernise, integrate and rationalise training as also ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure and resources. Ten subjects have been fixed for conducting joint training among the three services.  Of these, joint training has already started in Five areas.

A major thrust area of MoD in the border areas has been to enhance road and transport infrastructure aimed at strengthening defence preparedness and as part of this on June 28, Defence Minister inaugurated 75 Projects of Roads and Bridges constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in six States and two Union Territories (UTs).

BRO constructed road over Umling La Pass, in Eastern Ladakh, at 19,024 ft. above sea level which has now officially become highest motorable road in the world and was inaugurated virtually  on December 28. On this day, the Defence Minister dedicated to the Nation 24 bridges and three roads, built by BRO in four States and two Union Territories. Of the 24 bridges, nine are in Jammu and Kashmir, five each in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, three in Uttarakhand and one each in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

In a move to boost empowerment of women in the defence forces, the government took several initiatives including giving Permanent Commission to women officers in the Armed Forces. In keeping with the Prime Minister’s announcement in his Independence Day speech this year that all Sainik Schools, across India, are now offering admissions to girls and more than 350 girls have been admitted so far. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) appointed women officers to command important Road Construction Companies (RCC) along border areas.

The year 2021 saw girls being allowed to appear in the National Defence Academy examination with the necessary administrative training and policy changes being made. The NDA June 2022 course will have the first batch of women cadets. The first batch of women Naval Operations officers were inducted into rotary wing and joined the helicopter squadron INAS 336 at INS Garuda, Kochi on February 3.

The country celebrated year-long Swarnim Vijay Varsh, marking Nation’s victory over Pakistan in December 1971 War, which led to creation of Bangladesh ending with the celebration of Swarnim Vijay Diwas on December 16.

The MoD proactively coordinated with the Armed Forces in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. Defence Forces established quarantine facilities at 21 locations along with COVID 19 hospitals and 31 mixed hospitals. DRDO constructed 11 COVID Care hospitals at various locations across the country in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Gandhinagar, Rishikesh, Haldwani, Jammu, Srinagar, Guwahati and Imphal.

Based on DRDO technology, 931 Nos. of Medical Oxygen Plants were installed and commissioned at 869 sites across the country funded by PMCARES, to make medical oxygen available to COVID patients. Anti-COVID-19 therapeutic application of drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) was developed by Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, a lab of DRDO, in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad.

Prime Minister inaugurated Defence Office Complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue in New Delhi on September 16. The construction was completed within a record time of 12 months, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Indian Army constantly endeavoured to encourage young sporting talent as part of ‘Mission Olympics’ and the effort paid off with one Gold Medal bagged by Subedar Neeraj Chopra in Tokyo Olympics.

The year 2021 witnessed inauguration ceremonies of two new Emergency Landing Facilities. The first was along NH-925A (Gandhav-Bhakasar stretch, Rajasthan) which was inaugurated by the Defence Minister on September nine 21. On November 16 successful landings were executed by Mirage-2000, C-130J and An-32 aircraft at ELF Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Air Staff were on board the C-130J aircraft which landed on ELF as part of the inauguration ceremony.

Joint Coastal Patrol (JCP) by Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and Coastal Police for enhancing coastal security, enshrined in the Prime Minister’s Vision Document, was instituted in August. Despite challenges posed by COVID-19, enhanced co-ordination and synergy between local Coastal Police personnel and ICG units resulted in timely commencement of JCP. A total of 383 sea sorties, 199 classroom instructions and 985 personnel have been embarked onboard for JCP sorties from January 1 to December 16.

Air Marshal VR Chaudhari  took over as the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) on  September 30. Admiral R Hari Kumar took charge as the new chief of the Indian Navy on November 30 as the 25th Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) from outgoing Chief Admiral Karambir Singh who retired on superannuation after a career spanning over 41 years in service.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan posed a unique challenge for the Nation and the IAF was called upon to evacuate Indians and some other nationals from that country.

Evacuation activities were undertaken, first from Kandahar, then Mazar-e-Sharif and finally from Kabul. Chaotic situation existed in Kabul as a result of the withdrawal of troops belonging to US and its allies. IAF deployed its C-17 and C-130J aircraft for the evacuation. A C-17 each was utilised for evacuation from Kandahar (July 10) and Mazar-e-Sharif (August 10). In addition, five aircraft (four C-17s and one C-130J) were utilised between August15 and 28 to rescue 132 government officials, 316 Indian citizens and 126 persons of other nationalities.

Keeping in mind the goal of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, Department of Military Affairs, Ministry of Defence released the first Positive Indigenisation List of 101 items in August 2020 and the Second Positive Indigenisation List comprising of 108 items on May 31. These selected items will only be procured from domestic industry. These lists comprising major combat platforms, advanced weapon systems, armament and ammunition to make India self-reliant in Defence Sector. These lists besides signalling nation’s resolve to cut down import of defence hardware, are also a recognition of the growing capability of domestic industry in defence manufacturing, built over the last six years based on a number of transformational steps initiated by the Government.

Two Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs) have been established at Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to boost Defence manufacturing ecosystem in the country with intent to attract investment of Rs. 10,000 Crore in each DIC. To give further impetus to the growth of Defence Industrial Corridors, both the DICs have been integrated with the Prime Minister’s ‘Gati Shakti’ National Master Plan. Till date, Rs. 1401.68 Crore and Rs. 2252 Crore have been invested in Uttar Pradesh & Tamil Nadu DICs respectively.

The Government approved a scheme with an outlay of Rs. 500 Crore (2021-22 to 2025-26) to push innovation and support startups in Defence and Aerospace sector. This will enable more than 300 startups to participate in the new design and development projects.

(More to follow….)