China strategic rivalry pose challenges: Antony
Addressing the top commanders of all the three services, Antony also asked them to put in place Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to counter cyber security threats.
Asking the commanders to keep a close watch on the situation in Afghanistan-Pakistan region, Antony said, "Any development in the Af-Pak region will have strategic and security implications for India. We need to keep a close watch on the situation in the region". He added that the latest events in the Af-Pak region clearly show that it cannot be presumed that the issues there are nearing any solution.
Highlighting that "China`s rise as an economic and military power and its assertive policies," have implications for India, Antony said, "China`s strategic rivalry with India and Japan would definitely affect the Asian security environment".
"All these developments pose challenges to all the wings of the defence forces. In the Indian context, these challenges cannot be felt in the same measures by other countries", he said.
Noting that security situation in North East and Jammu and Kashmir has improved to some extent, the Defence Minister cautioned the forces that the coming months of summer will prove to be a real test for them. "We have to remain vigilant and active and can not afford to drop our guard," Antony said.
Asking the forces to focus on taking cyber security initiatives and reducing web-based terrorism and attacks, the defence minister said, "the services need to be fully aware of the implications and put in place security systems and SOPs to counter such threats."
Off-late another dimension in the form of cyber crime has been added and information and communication technology is being misused by anti-social and anti-national elements, Antony told the senior officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force. He also asked them to address the entire spectrum of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare capability, both during peace and war-like scenario.
Antony told the Commanders that a nationwide secure and dedicated optical fibre network is to be implemented by the Communication and Information Technology Ministry in lieu of vacation of a part of spectrum by the defence services.
"The approval of Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure for the budget is awaited (for optical-fibre network). The `Defence band` and `defence interest zone` has been mutually agreed upon by the Defence Ministry and Communication and IT Ministry to meet the spectrum requirement for strategic communication of Defence Forces", he said, adding that it will be promulgated soon.
Observing that future wars will not be limited to the conventional domain, the Defence Minister said, "Quality papers from researchers, analysts and experts on security-related issues must feed informed debates and also provide inputs to the policy makers".
On strengthening of Andaman and Nicobar based only Tri-Service Command of the defence forces, he said, "we are strengthening and revitalising the Command and are working on force accretion and upgrading the infrastructure to help it in fulfilling its operational task".
On fine-tuning the Defence Procurement Procedure, Antony said, "Government is constantly fine tuning the DPP to cut down delays in the procurement process. Services, too, must put their best foot forward by having a well-defined approach to procurement based on clear and objective General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs)".
"The government is reviewing the current levels of delegation of financial powers to cut down on unnecessary delays and we have also revised the Offset policy to facilitate its easy discharge by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)", he said.
"Defence Public Sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factory Boards need to reorient and expand their capacity and capabilities to meet the diverse requirement of the armed forces", he said, adding that the government wants to promote maximum indigenous content in the defence acquisition process.