Parl panel to review defence preparedness
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, which is looking into the budgetary allocations of the Defence Ministry for 2012-13, has decided that during its review, senior officials from the three services as well as the ministry would brief the members regularly on the issue of preparedness.
Several members of the committee during its meeting on Friday were of the view that the three service chiefs should be called before the panel on a regular basis so that interaction at the highest level is maintained on important issues.
The Defence Secretary usually appears before the panel along with vice-chiefs of the three services. "We plan to carry out the review in the next six months and report to Parliament in the Winter Session… the report will have a set of recommendations," a source said.
During the review, the panel will get into the entire gamut of strategic and tactical aspects of defence preparedness, including conventional military posturing and the overall scenario on the force level in terms of manpower and equipment, and essential war reserves. The committee has also decided to take the assistance of defence experts from within the government and outside for inputs in writing the report.
During its examination of various stake-holders at its meetings held in March and April, the committee noted the army was facing problems with the Ordnance Factory Board in terms of timely delivery of weapons and ammunition and the Air Force had issues with Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd on trainer aircraft and maintenance of its fleet.
In his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Army Chief V K Singh had contended that the entire tank fleet is "devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks", the air defence is "97 per cent obsolete" and the infantry is crippled with "deficiencies of crew served weapon" and lacks night fighting capabilities. Gen Singh had also alleged that there is "hollowness" in the procedures and processing time for procurements as well as legal impediments by vendors.