Nirmala Sitharaman blames lack of timely decisions in the last decade for gaps in defence preparedness

She told the IAF that the budgetary allocations 'should not be viewed as a constraint and should be looked at to acquire what is absolutely necessary’

Published: 10th October 2017 10:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th October 2017 10:02 PM   |  A+A-

Nirmala Sitharaman waves at the Chinese soldiers during her maiden visit to the Nathu La border. (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Targeting her predecessors, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has claimed that the lack of timely decision in the last decade resulted in gaps in the Indian Air Force. Air Force is battling with its depleting combat strength as it only has 33 squadrons of fighter jet against required strength of 42 squadrons to take on two front war scenario, if it emerges.

Addressing bi-annual meeting of top IAF commanders in national capital, Sitharaman assured them that the BJP led NDA government is committed to filling the gaps created in last one decade . Later in the day during her interaction top military commanders of the Indian Army, Sitharaman admired the army for the professionalism of the Indian Army during events like Doklam standoff, and keeping the situation of insurgency in the North East states fairly under control. Both Chinese and Indian Army were involved in a face-off situation in Dokalam tri-junction for over two months when Indian forces objected to a road construction by Chinese PLA in the disputed territory. During the top commanders meet of army,  officials discussed the situation emerged after Dokalam stand off and force’s preparedness to tackle such Chinese aggression in near future.

While the top brass IAF discussed the loss of life during peacetime operations, defence minister told them that the powers given to the service chiefs should be "fully utilised" in achieving required capabilities of the forces.

"She said that the government is committed to fill the gaps which have arisen due to lack of timely decision making in the last decade," the IAF said in a statement from the event where discussion were taking place amid an evolving regional security scenario and growing assertiveness by China in some parts of the Sino-India border. She also assured the force that the budgetary allocations "should not be viewed as a constraint and should be looked at to acquire what is absolutely necessary’. During his address, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa emphasised the need for continuous effort and training to maintain IAF's air power, and called for continuing the process to enhance capability of the force and reiterated that the IAF's role as the first responder in most contingencies and thus the need to sustain the ongoing process of capability enhancement making use of the government's thrust on the 'Make-in-India' initiative. The IAF said the conference will deliberate on a raft of issues which will decide the future trajectory of the force. It said deliberations will take place on operations and maintenance issues.

Meanwhile speaking to Army commanders, defence minister assured focus on capacity and capability development, and promised close monitoring of improvement in strategic infrastructure, long pending force modification requests, welfare of serving, retired and families.

Top army commanders discussed the prevailing security situation on both northern and western borders alongwith the pay parity issues relating for army emerging after the seventh pay commission.


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