National

NSA to head new Defence panel

Ajit Doval. File  

In an effort to improve higher defence management, the government on Wednesday constituted a new committee headed by the National Security Adviser.

A notification issued by the Defence Ministry said the Defence Planning Committee (DPC) will draft reports on national security strategy, international defence engagement strategy, road map to build a defence manufacturing ecosystem, strategy to boost defence exports, and priority capability development plans. The DPC will submit these to the Defence Minister.

Mixed reactions

Several military sources and observers pointed out that the committee could help improve India’s defence planning in the long term, but may end up having no noticeable impact if the present government did not return to power in 2019.

“If the next government is a different one, they will dump this committee,” said a serving senior military officer.

While some of them hailed the move to place the committee under NSA Ajit Doval, others said it gives Mr. Doval an unprecedented role in the process of planning India’s security strategy.

Vice-Admiral (Retd) S.C.S Bangara, who has had a ring side view of the only effort to bring military integration after the Kargil conflict, said there were many good aspects to the present move.

“Long ago, we used to have a defence planning committee under the Raksha Mantri but it had no clear mandate. We have had the National Security Advisory Board making reports. But none of it has worked. We do not still have a laid-down national security strategy that is handed down by the government, and our acquisitions are not informed by such a laid-out strategy,” he said.

Protocol matters

He said the positives of the present decision is that the NSA, of a Minister of State rank, caused no protocol issues in chairing a meeting of the chiefs and secretaries.

On the negative side, he said: “In four years, this government couldn’t catch [take] the bull by the horn, integrate the forces and plan long term. But there isn’t enough time for the committee to make any impact during this government’s tenure.”

Panel composition

The committee will have the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, three service chiefs, secretaries of the Ministries of Defence, Expenditure and Foreign Affairs as its members.

The Chief of Integrated Staff in the Defence Ministry will be the member secretary of the DPC, and his headquarters will be the secretariat.

The order has also listed four sub-committees. One to look at policy and strategy; the second one will work on plans and capability development; third one on defence diplomacy and the fourth one on defence manufacturing ecosystem. Members will be decided by the DPC, which is expected to hold its first meeting soon after Mr. Doval returns from Germany on April 21, officials said.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 4:35:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nsa-to-head-new-defence-panel/article23606815.ece

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