NEW DELHI: A defence ministry panel headed by retired Lt Gen DB Shekatkar—appointed by the government to enhance the combat potential of the armed forces and rebalancing defence expenditure has recommended shedding the flab in the MoD but to give more combat force by redeployment and integrate manpower.
Committee also suggested that the government can save upto Rs 25,000 crore from its current budget, if majority of its recommendations are implemented over the next five years. But pointing out current security scenario, the committee also recommended that the defence budget should be in the range of 2.5 and three per cent of the GDP.
Committee, which was set up in May, 2016, submitted its report to the defence ministry of last week of December. Though officially, ministry was tight lipped about the outcome of the report, but sources have indicated that the committee has suggested a reorientation of training facilities so as to save defence expenditure. The defence minister is evaluating the 550 pages report to make changes in the armed forces structure.
However, giving stern warning to the government that the implementation cannot be selective, the committee report observed that the redeployment of manpower from and downsizing of some of the organisations under the MoD will have to be across the board and ruthless to be effective. Sources said that the panel has taken an overall view of the emerging security environment in the South Asia region and cross-border hostilities from Pakistan in the recent past.
Sources also said that one of the major recommendations of the committee is to review the definition of ‘Capital’ and ‘Revenue’ budget heads in the funds allocated to the three armed forces, particularly the Indian Army.
The panel has suggested better coordination between the MoD and state governments to handle transfer of land to armed forces for firing ranges.
Shekatkar Committee has also recommended a 4-star Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)—or a Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee—be appointed as a ‘chief coordinator’ between the military and the Ministry of Defence.