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Big boost for military as Modi govt gives officers powers of additional & joint secretaries

Formal appointment means the officers can now dispose of files at their levels under powers delegated to them, instead of routing them through Secretary, DMA, Gen. Bipin Rawat.

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New Delhi: In a landmark move in the country’s armed forces history, uniformed personnel from the Army, Air Force and Navy have been for the first time formally appointed as additional secretary and joint secretaries in the Ministry of Defence.

In a late evening order Monday, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appointed Lt Gen. Anil Puri as the Additional Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs (DMA).

Maj. Gen. K. Narayanan, Rear Admiral Kapil Mohan Dhir and Air Vice Marshal Hardeep Bains have been appointed as joint secretaries in the DMA, which began functioning in January 2020 as part of the defence reforms introduced by the government.

Gen Bipin Rawat holds the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Secretary, DMA.

While Puri was already officiating as additional secretary and the other three officers as joint secretaries, the formal appointment opens up decision-making powers and streamlines the functions.

Also read: A defence minister with military background — a risk India needs to take

‘Historic and landmark moment’

The move is being hailed as a significant step.

Explaining this, a source said: “Till now, without official notification, all files had to be moved to Secretary, DMA for decisions. This is no longer needed because each appointment can now dispose of files as per powers delegated.”

Calling it a “historic and landmark moment” for the armed forces in the country, another source said: “The ACC approval was in the pipeline and it has finally come. This makes the process much smoother and formalised in a bureaucratic set-up.”

As reported by ThePrint in 2019, the DMA, headed by the four-star CDS, will look after the affairs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, but will have no operational control over individual organisations, which will remain with the respective service chiefs.

While the DMA will look after all procurement exclusive to the three services — barring capital acquisitions, according to prevalent rules and procedures, besides the Territorial Army and various functions relating to the Services — its mandate includes promoting ‘jointness’ in procurement, training and staffing for the services through joint planning and integration of their requirements.

It is also responsible for facilitation of restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands besides promoting use of indigenous equipment by the services.

Also read: Nearly 15% Covid beds in select military hospitals could be made available to civilians


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