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‘Military priority is to have adequate inventory for 30-day War’

The Defence Planning Committee (DPC) has made it clear that the priority of the military should be to have adequate ammunition inventory for a 30-day war rather than acquiring hi-tech high value weapons platforms from foreign arms makers, according to defence ministry officials familiar with happenings at its first meeting. Headed by the national security adviser Ajit Doval, the DPC, which has the three service chiefs, and the defence, foreign and expenditure secretaries as members, met on May 3.

South Block officials who spoke on condition of anonymity told Hindustan Times that the apex committee came to the conclusion that the armed forces just about had adequate ammunition for a short 10-day war but were keen on buying high value futuristic platforms. The DPC decided that before the Indian armed forces commit to acquiring any platform in the future, the manufacturer will have to set up an ammunition factory through the joint venture route in India. The DPC advocated that ammunition purchase should be an on-going process with 25% of inventory dedicated for training purposes.

This decision was taken after it was brought to the notice of the recently created DPC that the armed forces largely bought ammunition from the revenue budget and appeared more focused on acquiring big ticket hardware such as aircraft carriers and top-end fighter planes from their capital budget. Focusing on ammunition as part of capability development, the DPC said, according to the officials, was the need of the hour.

Before India undertook surgical strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in 2016, it made emergency purchases of ammunition, laser guided bombs and missiles from Russia. This was the case even after the military was mobilized after Parliament attack in December 2001 and after the Kaluchak massacre in May 2002.

The DPC, which has been set-up on the basis of a 2009 Defence Minister operational directive and the Chiefs of Staff Committee, also reviewed the situation on the Line of Actual Control with China and Line of Control with Pakistan. It was decided that all border infrastructure projects should be completed by 2022 even if they involves private companies such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro, and the Kalyani group, in road and bridge building.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping was also discussed within the apex group with the bottomline being that there should be no lowering of the guard or delaying of critical border infrastructure projects in the name of any perceived bonhomie between the two countries.

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