KOCHI: The era of expansion of Indian defence forces in terms of numbers may soon be history. Implying as much, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said here on Tuesday that ‘’modernisation and expansion (of the forces) at the same time is a difficult and unnecessary goal.” Modi, in his speech, while chairing the Combined Commanders Conference aboard INS Vikramaditya, off Kochi coast, said: “At a time when major powers are reducing their forces and relying more on technology, we are still constantly seeking to expand the size of our forces.” ‘’We look to our Armed Forces to prepare for the future. And, it cannot be achieved by doing more of the same, or preparing perspective plans based on outdated doctrines and disconnected from financial realities,” Modi said.
Modi also brought up the inevitable Pakistan motif into his speech. “We are engaging with Pakistan to try and turn the course of history, bring an end to terrorism, build peaceful relations, advance cooperation and promote stability and prosperity in our region. There are many challenges and barriers on the path. But the effort is worth it, because peace dividends are huge and the future of our children is at stake,” he said while addressing Union Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar, the chiefs of Army, Air Force, Navy and commanders.
Shedding further light on how he expected the armed forces to modernise, Modi said: ‘‘We need forces that are agile, mobile and driven by technology, not just human valour. We need capabilities to win swift wars, for we will not have the luxury of long-drawn battles. We must re-examine our assumptions that keep massive funds locked up in inventories. We must fully incorporate the power of digital networks and space assets into our capabilities. Equally, we must be prepared to defend them, for they will be the first targets of our adversaries.’’ Modi said reform of our procurement policies and process is on the anvil. The forces and the government needed to do more to reform their beliefs, doctrines, objectives and strategies.
Underlining the pivotal role that Armed Forces can play in the success of Make in India mission, Modi said there should be clear targets and goals on domestic acquisition, more clarity on specifications and greater involvement of forces in innovation, design and development, especially from those who wield the weapons. ‘‘Defence technology will now be a national endeavour that taps the potential of all institutions in our country,’’ he said.
India is seen as an anchor for regional and global peace, security and stability ‘‘as the world seeks to deal with rising threat of terrorism and radicalism, countries across all regions, including in the Islamic world, have reached out to seek cooperation with India,’’ Modi said.
➤Ours is a difficult neighbourhood, with the full spectrum of security challenges.
➤ We see terrorism and ceasefire violations, reckless nuclear build-up and threats, cross-border transgressions and continuing military modernisation and expansion.
➤The shadow of west Asian instability is becoming longer
➤Our region is marked by uncertain political transitions, weak institutions and internal conflicts.
➤Pursuing closer relations with China to harness the full potential of our economic partnership.