PM for upgrading capabilities of armed forces

PM Manmohan Singh pressed need for putting in place "right structures" for higher defence management and appropriate civil-military balance in decision-making to meet "complex security" challenges.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday pressed the urgent need for putting in place "the right structures" for higher defence management and the appropriate civil-military balance in decision-making to meet "complex security" challenges facing the nation.
Addressing top commanders of Army, Air Force and Navy here, he cited the situation in the immediate neighbourhood and uncertainty due to the shift of eco-military balance to this region as the challenges posed to the country.

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In his address, he underlined the need for upgrading the capabilities of the armed forces for which he favoured involvement of the private sector.

The Prime Minister also appeared to be on an exercise to control damage caused by the tussle between the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh and the government last year as he asserted "clearly and unequivocally" that the political leadership of India has the highest faith in its military and its institutional rectitude within the democratic framework.

"In the weeks and months ahead, our security challenges will remain complex but our resolve too must remain steadfast. I am confident that our armed forces will discharge their collective responsibility towards flag and country with the zeal and passion that has become their byword," he said.

The Prime Minister said there is "urgent and tangible progress in establishing the right structures for higher defence management and the appropriate civil-military balance in decision making that our complex security demands.

"I encourage you to give this the highest professional consideration, harmonise existing differences among the individual services and evolve a blue-print for the future. I can assure you of the most careful consideration of your recommendations by the political leadership," he said.

Referring to the global environment, Singh said shifting
of economic pendulum inexorably from west to east was being exemplified by the increasing contestation in the seas to our east and the related "pivot" or "rebalancing" by the US in the area.

"This, to my mind, is a development fraught with uncertainty. We don`t yet know whether these economic and strategic transitions will be peaceful, but that is the challenge this audience must grapple with institutionally," the Prime Minister said.

Singh said globalisation has "nurtured intense competition and rivalries in the security domain and managing this contradictory tenor, which has been highlighted by the global surveillance operation mounted by the US National Security Agency, is also a policy imperative for us."

He said "our objective must be to acquire tangible national capacity, or what the lexicon now refers to as comprehensive national power. This is the amalgam of economic, technological and industrial prowess, buttressed by the appropriate military sinews."

On the situation in the neighbourhood, Singh said, "There is no doubt that we will continue to confront formidable challenges."

"Further afield, the continuing turmoil in West Asia could not only imperil our energy security and the livelihood and safety of seven million Indians, but also become a crucible for radicalism, terrorism, arms proliferation and sectarian conflict that could touch our shores too," he said.

He said the Asia Pacific region is critical for the country "because it is becoming the arena for shaping the behavior of major powers."

Urging the top defence brass to monitor these specific developments, the Prime Minister said, "Our strategic horizons should also include the need to protect our global seaborne trade in goods, energy and minerals, the well-being of Indian expatriate communities worldwide and the growing global footprint of Indian capital."

"As our capabilities grow, we will increasingly be called upon to help in natural disasters or zones of conflict and instability," he said.

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