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The new Defence Planning Committee (DPC) in its first meeting on Thursday, chaired by national security adviser Ajit Doval, stressed that the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force (IAF) have to ensure optimal utilisation of funds with clear intra and inter-service prioritisation in the acquisition of weapon systems due to budgetary constraints. This, for example, could mean that the Navy should not demand a third aircraft carrier, said sources on Friday.
The three Service chiefs, Admiral Sunil Lanba, General Bipin Rawat and Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, were also asked in the Defence Planning Committee meeting to assess threats to national security in the short, medium and long-term time frames and draw up plans to effectively counter them, added sources. As was reported by TOI earlier, the top echelons in the government are of the view that India needs to go in for restructured and integrated armed forces, with drastic slashing of non-operational flab and proper prioritisation of arms procurements, in the backdrop of the centre being unable to hike the defence budget in any substantial way year after year.
In the 2018-19 budget, for instance, the defence ministry already accounts for 33.1% of the central government’s total capital expenditure pegged at Rs 3,00,441 crore. Moreover, in the defence budget of Rs 2.95 lakh crore, the revenue expenditure to pay and maintain the manpower-intensive armed forces is pegged at 67.3%, which by far outstrips the capital one for modernisation at 33.7%.
A draft national security strategy, which has to basically revolve around preserving India’s territorial integrity and strategic autonomy in face of myriad external and internal threats, as well as long-pending reforms in the country’s higher defence management and planning are high on the agenda of the Defence Planning Committee.