New Delhi: The Indian Government issued a notification last week empowering the Vice Chief of the Army to make direct ‘emergency procurements’ of weapons to the tune of about 40,000 crores. The directive allows the Army to purchase weapons intended for intense ‘short wars’ without having to go through the red tape of Indian bureaucracy. The Army had reportedly identified deficiencies in about 46 types of ammunition and a few spares for about 10 different weapons platforms. The move comes amid border tensions with China and Pakistan, aiming to empower the Indian Army to tackle emergency war scenarios.
According to sources in the Defence Ministry, an internal audit was done after the Uri attacks to gauge the Army’s readiness to battle emergency wars. Although the Special Forces of the Army carried out surgical strikes about 10 days after the attack, the audit exposed certain lapses in the Army’s weapons procurement in order to fight a critical short battle – lasting an estimated 15 days. Prime Minister Modi had said during his interactions with the Military Commanders last year that while full-fledged wars were a rarity, short intense wars were a possibility. He stated that these must be dealt with clinical precision. Thereafter, in the aftermath of the Uri attacks, the Army made procurements to the tune of 12,000 crores through about 19 separate contracts. 11 contracts out of the 19 were exclusively on spares and ammunition.
The provision has made the Army more self-dependent, not having to wait on Bureaucrats to do their bidding during emergencies. A ministry official stated, “With this notification, Army does not have to go through the Defence Acquisition Council or Cabinet Committee on Security. All purchases under the category of emergency procurement will be done at the office of the Vice Chief of Army.” The Government has initiated this move with the belief that the Indian Army must be self-sufficient enough to meet its own requirements, adding that the Air Force and Navy would soon be given similar powers.