Sitharaman to meet military chiefs every day to speed up decision-making process

Besides this, the Defence Acquisition Council will conduct fortnightly — instead of monthly — meetings to hasten weapon purchases. The defence secretary will also be required to meet Sitharaman on a daily basis to provide updates on military preparedness.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2017 07:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nirmala Sitharaman,Defence ministry,Defence Acquisition Council
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman poses with home minister Rajnath Singh on her first day in office. (Arun Sharma/HT photo)

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has decided to meet the three service chiefs every morning to speed up the decision-making process and ensure military readiness, a spokesperson said on Monday.

“A whole range of meetings has been scheduled with the three defence service chiefs to review military preparedness and allied issues of strategic interest,” the official said, adding that the defence secretary will also be required to meet her on a daily basis.

Sitharaman, who took charge of the ministry on Thursday, is the first woman after Indira Gandhi to be anointed as a full-time defence minister. Gandhi held the portfolio 35 years ago, when she was the Prime Minister.

The Defence Acquisition Council, the ministry’s apex decision-making body, will now meet every fortnight to speed up weapon purchases. Earlier, the council used to meet on a monthly basis. The military needs to scale up its capabilities swiftly to counter the threat of a two-front war with Pakistan and China.

After taking charge last week, Sitharaman held a string of meetings with top officials to familiarise herself with the ministry’s functioning. She said her top priorities are military preparedness; developing weapons and systems under the Make-in-India initiative; welfare of soldiers; and attending to long-pending issues. It is no secret that the military is struggling to fill capability gaps despite the induction of new fighters, submarines, helicopters, tanks, artillery guns and assault rifles.

Sitharaman has taken over at a time when the military is undergoing significant reforms. An extensive restructuring of the Army will see 57,000 soldiers being redeployed in combat roles in an attempt to sharpen its fighting edge. The exercise follows recommendations made by an 11-member expert panel, headed by lieutenant general DB Shekatkar (retd), on enhancing the Army’s combat potential and trimming its revenue expenditure.

Other recommendations under consideration include creating a post for the chief of defence staff as a principal military advisor to the government; restructuring the Defence Research and Development Organisation; and setting up special operations, space and cyber commands to fight future wars.

First Published: Sep 11, 2017 19:06 IST