Gen Bikram Singh to brief PM on Army shortages

Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh will brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the "hollowness" faced by the 1.3 million-strong force in its defence preparedness.

New Delhi: Facing shortage of critical weapon systems and ammunition, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh will brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the "hollowness" faced by the 1.3 million-strong force in its defence preparedness.

Gen Bikram Singh will make a presentation before the Prime Minister about the "hollowness" faced by the force and the steps needed to do away with them in the next few weeks, Government sources told a news agency here.

The Army is in the process of identifying more areas where it is facing shortfalls and they will be added in the presentation before the PM, they said.

The Directorate General of Military Operations has asked the Army Headquarters to coordinate with all the arms and services to prepare the list of all equipment and platforms which are short in inventory and would be required by the force to maintain its operational preparedness, sources said.

During the recent Commanders` Conference also, the Army Chief had said "hollowness" in the country`s defence preparedness will be addressed by pushing for a new direction in modernisation.

"There was a need to address hollowness in defence preparedness and undertake modernisation with added vigour," he had said.

Gen Bikram Singh`s predecessor Gen VK Singh had highlighted the critical shortage of arms and ammunition faced by the various arms and services of the force in a secret letter written to the Prime Minister. In his letter, the former Army Chief had said that there was only three to four days of ammunition left with the tank regiments especially the ones operating the Russian-origin T-90 tanks.

He had also highlighted the 98 percent obsolescence faced by the Army Air Defence, which is in-charge of securing the country`s frontiers from incoming enemy fighter planes and other manned and unmanned aircraft.

Even before the Army Chief wrote the letter to the Prime Minister, the Defence Ministry had started taking steps to do away with the shortages faced by the ground fighting force and initiated talks with several foreign vendors to get the required equipment.

In recent times, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) of the Ministry has cleared several proposals of the Army to procure equipment for its air defence units including acquisition of 12 regiments of Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missiles squadrons.

The Cabinet Committee on Security has also cleared the deals with Russia for buying 25,000 Invar missiles at a cost of Rs 4,000 crore for the T-90 tanks and 10,000 Konkurs-M missiles for the Infantry and Mechanised Infantry battalions to enhance their capabilities to take down enemy tank regiments.

Defence Minister AK Antony has also pledged full support to the Army in meeting its all operational requirements without letting them to be affected by the economic slowdown.


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