Defence budget not sufficient to cater committed payment: Army vice chief

Army annoyed over defence budget

According to a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence headed by BJP lawmaker and also a defence personnel - Maj Gen B C Khanduri, the Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Sarath Chand has told the panel that: "The Budget of 2018-19 has dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved (in defence procurement) has actually received a "little setback".

"Budget 2018-19 has dashed our hopes..." General Sarath Chand told the panel.

"Budget 2018-19 has dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved has actually received a little setback", Lt. Gen. Chand said while deposing before the parliamentary panel, and added that this may lead to foreclosure of 25 "Make in India" defence projects that are now in the pipeline. A draft report by the committee that Business Standard has reviewed notes that the army has been allocated just Rs 268.2 billion for equipment modernisation against the Rs 445.7 billion it had projected. While the IAF does not have enough fighters, mid-air refuellers, AWACS and drones, the Navy is grappling with the lack of adequate number of submarines, multi-role helicopters and minesweepers.

"The allocation of Rs2,95,511.41 crore represents a growth of 7.81% over Budget Estimates of Rs2,74,114.12 crore and 5.91% over Revised Estimates of Rs2,79,003.85 crore, respectively, for the financial year 2017-18", it added. But India's defence spending continues to be on the decline measured against its GDP.

"The possibility of a two-front war is a reality, and speaking about it, it is important that we are conscious of the issue and we pay attention to our modernisation and filling up our deficiencies".

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"The state of defence preparedness is indeed a cause for concern and army modernisation has begun at last, but at a painfully slow pace", said Indian military affairs expert Brig (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal. The story was similar under the revenue head for day-to-day operating costs, which in any case dwarfs the capital outlay in a skewed 67:37 ratio due to a ballooning salary bill.

The Indian army is authorised to stockpile ammunition for 40 days of intense fighting, known as war wastage reserves (WWR) in military parlance. He said the IAF had two major requirements immediately.

"Typically, any modern armed force should have one-third of forces, one-third of its equipment in the vintage category, one-third in the current category and one-third in the state-of-the-art category. I feel it has to be anything between 22 and 25%", an army representative who was unnamed told the panel.

The Army has said it was reeling under severe fund crunch and struggling to even make emergency procurements when it was dealing with an assertive China along the northern border after the Doklam face-off and increasing hostilities from Pakistan on the Western frontier, mainly Jammu and Kashmir.

The army official said modernisation of both Pakistani and Chinese forces is "going on in full swing". China is competing to reach the levels of the U.S....



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