Modi govt gives special financial powers to Army for short and swift wars

Amid the ongoing standoff between the Indian Army and its Chinese counterpart in Dokalam and the heightened Indo-Pak tension along the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir, the government has given special financial powers to the Army to procure critical weapons systems for maintaining adequate stockpiles and combat readiness for “short and intense wars”.

According to reports, the “full financial powers” have been delegated to the vice chief of Army staff to procure ammunitions and spares for 10 types of weapons and equipments. The government order delegating financial powers to the Army Vice-Chief was issued last week.

Another proposal to allow the Army to procure 20 types of armament is also under consideration.

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The financial power, vested to the Army vice chief to buy the complete range of weapons for combat readiness, is linked to the budgetary support available. The Army on its part reportedly identified 46 different types of ammunition, 22 armaments, half a dozen mines as well as spares for 10 weapon systems ranging from tanks to artillery guns as “critical requirements” which would cost around 40,000 crore. But the quantum of funds is unlikely to be available within the current financial year.

“The decision is primarily aimed at filling the voids for short duration intense wars,” an official privy to the development was quoted as saying.

The procedure, a part of revenue procurement of the Army, won’t be required to go through numerous procurement stages.

According to an estimate, the Indian Army holds only one-third of the required war reserves meant for 30 days of intense fighting. As per the norms, the war reserve should be sufficient for 30 days of intense fighting and 30 days of normal fighting. A CAG report has also pointed out the ammunition shortage being faced by the Indian Army.

It could be noted that the gaps in combat readiness were found during an internal review of the Army in the aftermath of Uri attacks in September last year. After the Uri attack, the armed forces had inked a flurry of emergency deals worth over Rs 20,000 crore — primarily with Russia, Israel and France — to upgrade the war reserve for “intense fighting”.

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