Defence Diplomacy Current Affairs - 2019
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The Union Government is planning to gift obsolete weaponry that can be refurbished at minimal cost to friendly countries in a bid to boost defence cooperation with them. Specific military platforms being looked under this proposal are artillery guns, armoured vehicles, helicopters, naval patrol vehicles and radar systems that are obsolete or nearing obsolescence.
Fulfilling the requests of these countries will open way for deeper strategic engagement with these countries. It will also pave way for long-lasting partnership through deploying training teams, offering special courses in India as well as supply of spares, repair work being carried out in India over the long term. It will also help to create base for Indian defence industry to expand export of newer defence platforms, which have been made in India to these countries.
In the course of India’s engagement with many foreign countries, especially during various high-level visits, number of friendly foreign countries have projected requirement for second-hand military equipment for their armed forces on a gift basis. These requests have come from some countries of Indian Ocean Region, some African countries, Central Asian Republics and the Asia-Pacific region. So far, India has only gifted used Mi25 helicopters to Afghanistan, although it has provided indigenous smaller equipment such as patrol boats to some countries in the neighbourhood.
Government’s proposal is akin to Excess Defense Assets (EDA) programme of United States where it transfers excess defence equipment to chosen foreign countries at reduced price or asgrant. The reduced price is percentage of original acquisition value, based on age and condition of equipment, and ranges from 5% to 50% of the original cost. The recipient country, however, has to pay for packing, handling, crating and transportation as well as refurbishment, if applicable. The Indian proposal envisages the transfer to be a gift.
The Union Government has formed Defence Planning Committee (DPC), a new integrated institutional mechanism that will drive country’s military and security strategy and guide defence equipment acquisitions. It will be under the chairmanship of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
The committee will be a permanent body and it will prepare draft national security strategy besides undertaking strategic defence review and formulating international defence engagement strategy.
Composition: It will consist of Chairman Chiefs of the Staff Committee (COSC), service chiefs, Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Secretary (expenditure) in the Finance Ministry.
Structure: The committee will operate through four sub-committees: on Policy and Strategy, Defence Diplomacy, Plans and Capability Development and Defence Manufacturing Ecosystem. The membership and the terms of reference of the sub-committees will be finalized separately. Foreign Secretary and Expenditure Secretary being member of DPC will help to overcome problems of coordination between various ministries on matters of national security.
Functions: DPC has been tasked to undertake external security risk assessment and define national defence and security priorities. It will formulate national military strategy, draft national security strategy and strategic defence review. It will identify means and ways across ministries, obtain Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approval for capability development plan and provide guidance for budgetary support.
The DPC will also prepare roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem, strategy to boost defence exports and prioritized capability plans for armed forces in consonance with overall priorities, strategies and likely resource flows. It will submit all its reports to defence minister.
Considering the complex security environment and volume of expenditure on national defence, it was imperative to have strong defence planning mechanism. The present system was found insufficient to provide rigour necessary for planning process. So it was mandated to create an institutional mechanism which can undertake comprehensive and integrated planning of higher defence matters.