Army Chief to visit Saudi Arabia, UAE next week

India has significantly deepened its engagement with Saudi Arabia and UAE in recent years

Published - December 05, 2020 03:40 am IST - NEW DELHI

Army chief Gen MM Naravane. File

Army chief Gen MM Naravane. File

In a first, Army Chief General Manoj Naravane is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week, a defence source said.

In a separate development, the Army has received Government Sanction Letter (GSL) for creating two new posts of Deputy Chief (Strategy) and Director General Information Warfare which have been proposed as part of Army Headquarters restructuring.

Gen. Naravane is scheduled to depart on Sunday and will visit Saudi Arabia on December 7 and 8 followed by two days in the UAE. He will address Saudi Arabia’s National Defence University in addition to meeting the country’s top military brass, the source said.

India has significantly deepened its engagement with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in recent years. During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2019, India and Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defence industries collaboration and an agreement on security cooperation. Both sides are also exploring possibility of holding bilateral military exercises.

Caracal deal

In the UAE, which has seen significant deepening of ties in recent years, the deal for over 93,895 Close Quarter Carbines from the UAE state-owned Caracal which has been held up is expected to come up for discussion during Gen. Naravane’s interactions.

The visit of Gen. Naravane comes close after the visit of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar last week where the UAE had raised the issue of the pending deal, it has been learnt. While Caracal was shortlisted two years ago and contract discussions almost complete, the final deal has been delayed and recently an in-principle decision was taken in the Defence Ministry to cancel the deal and take the domestic route for procurement but no formal announcement has been made so far. However, it has now been learnt that the deal may go through.

Headquarters restructuring

The Army headquarters restructuring is part of four studies ordered by Gen. Bipin Rawat as Army Chief for overall transformation of the force and optimise resource spending. The other studies include cadre review of officers, review of terms and conditions of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks (OR) and formation of Integrated Battle Groups (IBG).

Most of the Army headquarters has already been done and formal GSL was awaited for creating the new posts. “The model is already functional except these two appointments which can now be posted,” the source stated.

The Army currently has two Deputy Chiefs, one for information systems and training and another for planning and systems. This is being reorganised to bring all overlapping functions under one authority. Several existing appointments like Director General (DG) Military Operations, Military Intelligence will report to the new Deputy Chief.

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