Army HQ gearing up to brief Jaitley soon
Army headquarter is preparing a presentation to be made in the next couple of weeks to the newly installed defence minister Arun Jaitley that will comprise threat perceptions, defence preparedness and the gaps existing in capabilities of the service.
The presentation will be made by the army chief, Bikram Singh, to the minister. But what does an outgoing army chief tell a temporary defence minister?
The chief had met Jaitley on 27 May, immediately after the latter took over office. That meeting was about pleasantries and as a senior officer of the service stated, Singh had told the minister, that the morale of the army was up; excepting there were some “issues” that were to be discussed. The main briefing is yet to be scheduled.
Jaitley, as the leader of the Opposition had pulled up AK Antony, then the minister, after a letter of then army chief, General (retd) VK Singh to then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had got leaked. The letter was about the poor state of the army’s weapons supply. He is now in the same position and what will he ask Gen Bikram Singh.
Will he ask, whether the current army chief been able to cover the 97 per cent deficit in anti-tank weapons or whether the army air defence was really is still in shambles?
Jaitley, of course, had in his previous incarnation also criticised the army’s limitations being openly discussed in public fora. But what will he prescribe to the army general and his principal staff officers, some of whom may be present in that meeting.
The army’s problems with critical supplies have been a common topic of discussion in knowledgeable circles, however.
The fact that it does not have the 155 mm howitzers; that it suffers from night-blindedness both in terms of the infantry and armour; or that even its infantry assault rifles are outdated – those being DRDO-made INSAS – is often pointed out in private circles and even public fora like seminars.