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Connectivity To Four Strategic Passes And Roads Along China Border Key Decisions Of Army Commanders’ Conference

Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 13 October 2017
ARMY  COMMANDERS’ CONFERENCE BEING HELD FROM 09-15 OCTOBER 2017

In a major move to boost Indian Army’s capability along northern (China) border, Indian Government has decided to ramp up the strategic infrastructure development. The deliberations during Army Commanders’ Conference were attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Four strategically important passes along the China border would be connected by year 2020. To meet the end, Border Road Organisation will be supplemented with additional funds.

Lt. Gen. Vijay Singh, DGSD, Indian Army in a press conference at South Block today said, ” It has been decided that there would be a concerted heft towards road construction activities in these Sectors in the areas of Northern border. To that end four passes to Niti, Lipulekh, Thang La  & Tsangchok La have been decided to be connected by 2020 on  priority”.

He also added, “Roadmap for intra- sector connectivity with central sector & inter-sector connectivity with neighboring areas have been deliberated upon.  Also organisational  changes of some of the formations have been examined for capability enhancement. It has also been decided to allot additional funds to BRO for Northern Command related development of road and infrastructure”.

Here is the full except of the press conference address by Lt Gen Vijay Singh, DGSD, Indian Army:

The first and preliminary phase was conducted from 09 to  12 Oct 2017 It was presided over by Chief of Army Staff attended by Vice Chief of the Army Staff all Army Commanders, Principal Staff Officers, Heads of Arms and Services and other Director Generals.

Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, Raksha Mantn addressed the conference on 10 Oct 2017. During the address, Raksha Manti stressed upon the capability enhancement and capacity building of the Indian Army in a time bound manner. While lauding the swift and effective response of the Army in dealing with external and internal threats, Raksha Mantri emphasised the need to guard against inimical forces. She also spoke about the Prime Minister’s vision of Make in India and making Indian defence sector self-reliant. She emphasised on jointness and integration of all the Services for emerging challenges of the future. Raksha Mantri appreciated Indian Army s efforts towards defence cooperation and affirmed that morale and welfare of armed forces personnel shall remain a priority area.

In his opening remarks on the first day, Chief of  Army  Staff highlighted that Indian Army needs to be prepared for all even eventualities at all times and therefore it was important lo accord priority to arms ammunitions and equipment. Our approach to procurement process needs to be balanced with focus at the right places and right areas. He also emphasised on no compromise with respect to welfare related issues especially those related to accommodation and education of wards of soldiers will be taken care of all times.

The issues that were highlighted or discussed during the Conference related to infrastructure and capability development along the borders adaptation to revised procurement procedures like Government e-Market (GeM), cadre review of Junior Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks,  which now stands approved, employment of women officers in areas of specialisation that  require continuity in expertise and modernisation of MES infrastructure.

The session of Commands was followed by Principle Staff Officers providing updates on contemporary issues. The key highlights during this session are deliberations on the capability development plans, optimisation of resources, time-bound implementation of Ministry of Defence (MoD) approved Shekatkar Committee recommendations and Human Resource management issues.

There was also interaction with MoD officials with the participation by Defence Secretary and other senior officials of the MoD was held on 12 Oct 17. The event was jointly presided by the Chief of Army Staff and Defence Secretary, Sanjay Mitra. This event provided a platform to interact and address important pending issues with the Ministry. The issues discussed included expediting acquisition projects, provision of liberalised family pension to other than battle causalities and issues related to Defence Land, Military Stations and Defence Establishment Bill 2014. Sanjay Mitra emphasised on the need for time bound resolution action plan. He was categorical of laying down timelines.

Today, interaction on military operations related matters with select part1c1pahon is currently underway. This will be followed over the next two days by Military Secretary’s matters to include Special Selection Board for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General and nomination of officers for the National Defence College Course and Advanced Professional Program in Public Administration Course (AAPA).

Some of the key highlights of the Conference

It has been decided that there would be a concerted heft towards road construction activities in these Sectors in the areas of Northern border. To that end four passes to Niti, Lipulekh, Thang La  & Tsangchok La have been decided to be connected by 2020 on  priority.

Roadmap for intra- sector connectivity with central sector & inter-sector connectivity with neighboring areas have been deliberated upon.  Also organisational  changes of some of the formations have been examined for capability enhancement. It has also been decided to allot additional funds to BRO for Northern Command related development of road and infrastructure.

At the formation level numbers of software are being developed To facilitate speedy test and clearance 11has been decided to have a nodal agency to host such applications & thereafter process its security clearance in a time bound manner

As per Government directions all procurement have to be through GeM. Presently the complete system has not stabilized and certain procedural issues have come to fore resulting in delays. Necessary Government sanction has been proposed to be obtained to allow procurement through existing system, till 31 Mar 2018 when the GeM as a system is likely to stabilize.

Implementation of cadre review of JCOs & OR resulting in 1,45,5137 additional promotional vacancies shall be the top priority.

There is need to modernize military station at par with smart city plan and with this in view, there is a need of allotment of 1So/o additional funds for a period of five years so that essential external services can be revamped A total cost of Rs 8.5 Crores per military station is envisaged. The plan has been wholesomely deliberated for pan Army implementation.

There is a need to enhance manpower authorization of ECHS facilities as also their infrastructure of their size specifications.

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