Defence Minister asks forces to be ready at short notice on “volatile” border

Issue: 10-2021By Vishal ThaparPhoto(s): By IAF
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with IAF Commanders after the political directive to the forces to be ready at short notice

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh asked India’s armed forces to be ready to respond to the “volatile situation” on the borders at short notice in the face of any contingency.

Addressing the Indian Air Force Commanders Conference in New Delhi on November 10, Singh said airpower would be called upon to play a crucial role in future conflicts.

The “volatile situation” was apparently a reference to the 18-month-long border stand-off with China which shows no signs of easing.

The three-day IAF Commanders’ Conference - the second this year - will brainstorm a “swift and befitting response to any misadventures by India’s adversaries” and take stock of the measures taken so far. The theme of the Conference is ‘Ensuring Certainty Amidst Uncertainties’. The top brass will discuss training and equipping to meet the challenges and adapting to rapid changes.

“The Defence Minister remarked on the volatile situation on our borders and said that the Armed Forces need to be prepared to respond at a short notice for any contingency. He brought out that the role of IAF in future conflicts is crucial and it needs to harness the capabilities and opportunities offered by AI, Big Data Handling and Machine Learning,” according to an IAF statement. The Defence Minister was briefed by the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari on the “current status”.

After welcoming the Defence Minister, who inaugurated the Conference, the Air Chief stressed “on the need to develop multidomain capability in order to give a swift and befitting response to any misadventures by our adversaries”, the statement added.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari emphasised joint training with the Indian Army and Indian Navy to enable synergised application of combat power in future conflicts, the statement elaborated.

The Defence Minister sought to allay the IAF’s apprehensions on the ongoing move for theaterisation of India’s armed forces. He assured the IAF brass that joint structures would be created only after accommodating the concerns of the IAF. “He mentioned that enhancing jointness is essential and the structure should be evolved after closely examining various options, and inputs from all stake holders would be taken into consideration,” as per the IAF statement.

Singh also expressed confidence that the Make in India agenda for equipping the armed forces was gaining momentum. “He also mentioned that the efforts in the field of indigenisation through ‘Make in India’ initiative of Govt of India is showing results and the orders of LCA Mk 1A and C295 will open new opportunities in the indigenous aerospace sector,” the statement added.

The Air Chief complimented his commanders for maintaining a high state of readiness despite challenges posed by the pandemic. “During the Conference, commanders will discuss and brainstorm situations which may affect National Security and focus on measures to enhance operational capability. Issues pertaining to strengthening training and optimising HR policies for effective utilisation of manpower will also be discussed,” the IAF statement added.

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Secretary Defence Production Raj Kumar were also present at the inaugural session.