PM asks Army, IAF to iron out differences
In what looks like a veiled reprimand to the Army, which is keen on building its own aviation wing rather than depending on the Indian Air Force, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday asked the armed forces to ''optimise the use of scarce resources''through ''long-term planning and creation of common institutions.''
“The government will never fight shy of finding the funds for the modernisation of our forces. At the same time we have to recognise that resources are not unlimited. I would urge upon you to optimise the use of scarce resources, particularly when we build new capacities for meeting emerging threats,” Singh said addressing the combined commander conference here.
The prime minister’s comments come in the backdrop of an ongoing tussle between the IAF and Army on the creation of the Army Aviation Wing. The two services are not leaving any stone unturned to protect their own turf.
As the Army is keen to have its own helicopter unit comprising new attack helicopters, IAF Chief NAK Browne in the last week stated that a 1986 document — Joint Army and Air Force Instructions — clearly demarcated the role and responsibility of the two services.
“As per the JAAI-1986, the IAF will operate and maintain all helicopters including the light utility and attack helicopters of the Army. But the command and control will be with the Army. In the same manner, the 22 new attack helicopters will also be under the command of the Army but they will be maintained by the IAF,” Brown said.
Army Chief V K Singh on Monday told his top commanders that the Army and IAF were deliberating at the highest level on this contentious area, but there would be no going back on the plan of equipping the Army Aviation Wing with latest platforms, which will make the force more agile, responsive and effective.
The prime minister has left to the two sparring services to iron out the differences.
“You are the best judges of how this can be done, but advance and long-term planning and creation of common institutions, communication networks and infrastructure are some examples of how this could be achieved,” he said.
The prime minister also asked the commanders to spare a thought on the image makeover of the armed forces which was tainted following a series of scandals like Adarsh and Sukhna and the Army chief’s date of birth controversy.
Singh said senior commanders have a special responsibility to inculcate the finest qualities of character, integrity and professionalism among junior officers and men and women because the countrymen “look up to the armed forces as the epitome of honesty, integrity, character and professionalism.”
“We live in an increasingly open society characterised by instant communications and mass media. These impose greater responsibilities on all public institutions of our Republic, including the armed force,” the prime minister added.