Nirmala addresses army, air force conferences

Nirmala addresses army, air force conferences

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday promised to focus on the development of capacity and capability of the armed forces and to speed up the acquisition of military hardware.

Taking a subtle dig at the erstwhile Congress-led UPA regime, Nirmala told Indian Air Force (IAF)commanders that the BJP-led government was “committed to filling the gaps” which had been caused “due to lack of timely decision-making in the last decade”.

Addressing the commanders of the army, she also promised a close monitoring of the projects for the improvement of strategic infrastructure, as well as speedy action on the long-pending request for force modification.

Nirmala, who took over as defence minister early last month, on Tuesday separately addressed the conferences of the commanders of the
army and the IAF at Manekshaw Centre and Vayu Bhavan in New Delhi, respectively.

The conference of the army commanders had started on Monday, while that of the air force commanders began on Tuesday.

The simultaneous conferences of the army and the IAF assume significance as they are being held amid escalating tension between India and China.

Though the 72-day-long military face-off between the two neighbours at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan ended on August 28, reports indicate a fresh build-up by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army near the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction boundary point.

The defence minister herself had traveled to the India-China border at Nathu La in Sikkim, as well as to the the army and the IAF bases at Tezpur in Assam, last week to review the “operational preparedness” of the armed forces in the “eastern theatre”.

She admired the professionalism of the army during scenarios such as the standoff with the Chinese army at Doklam Plateau, as well as in responding to natural disasters and combating insurgency in the north-eastern states.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa and Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat briefed the defence minister about the operational preparedness of the forces.

She said the integration of the armed forces was essential, particularly in the domain of training, communication, logistics and cybernetics, in order to prepare for any future conflict.

The defence minister called upon the army in continuing leveraging its strength in diplomatic defence cooperation in the neighbourhood.

She told the IAF commanders that “budgetary allocations should not be seen as a constraint”.

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