Defence forces ready to meet any challenge: PM



New Delhi: Months after the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh raised questions over the preparedness of his service, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the defence forces are ready to meet any challenge and their modernisation will continue.

"We have seen a lot of discussion in the recent months about role of our armed forces and their preparedness. Today I would like to reassure countrymen that our armed forces and paramilitary forces are prepared to face any challenge.

"Government will continue to work for modernising these forces and providing them with necessary technology and equipment," he said in his Independence Day address here.

In March, Gen Singh had written a secret letter to the Prime Minister highlighting critical shortage of tank ammunition and obsolescence of the air defence systems in the Army.

The letter later found its way in the media and since then the Defence Ministry has taken several steps to plug the shortages faced by the forces.

"I would like to emphasise here that our armed forces and paramilitary forces have defended the security of our country during both war and peace with valour and honour. Our soldiers have made the biggest of sacrifices, whenever needed," the Prime Minister said.

Thanking the security forces for guarding the frontiers bravely, Singh said the government will continue to make efforts for their welfare.

The Prime Minister lauded DRDO for the successful launch of over 5,000 km-range Agni-V missile which made India join an elite club of nations possessing such long range weapon systems.

"I would like to congratulate our scientists and technologists who have enhanced our prestige by successfully testing the Agni V Missile," Singh said.

On the pay and pension anomaly issues raised by the armed forces, the Prime Minister said the government will take "prompt action" after receiving recommendations of a high- level committee set up in this regard.

The committee set up under Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth was supposed to submit its report to the Prime Minister by August 8 but it has been delayed. The Services have also demanded their representation in the six-member panel comprising only IAS officers.

"This committee will also look into matters concerning pension of retired men and officers and family pension being paid to their families. We will take prompt action on recommendations of the committee, once they are received," he said.

The main issues being looked into by the committee include the elevation of all Lt Gen-rank officers into a higher pay scale, increased family pension and 'one rank one pension' (OROP) demand of the ex-servicemen.

PTI