Army chief says it’s wrong to say defence expenditure is a burden for nation; Parliament panel informed that threat perception is high after Doklam standoff.
New Delhi: With China and Pakistan’s defence modernisation in ‘full swing’ and there existing a real possibility of a ‘two-front war’, the budget allocated by the government for the military is not adequate to meet requirements, the Army has informed a parliamentary panel.
Detailing why the current budget does little to contribute to this requirement, the Army has said that an increasingly assertive China has increased its activities and number of troops in Tibet and an overall “disturbed situation” prevails.
Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat, who was speaking at a seminar after the Army’s report became public, made a case for increased spending on defence, linking it to China’s rise and asserting that military spending is not a burden to the nation.
The scale of the problem
Flagging China’s increasing military prowess, the Army told the parliamentary panel on defence that Beijing is now competing to “reach the levels of the US”, and that its activities in Tibet have reached a new high.
“We have the Doklam issue going on, and China has become increasingly assertive. We have seen more and more patrolling and transgressions,” an Army representative told the panel.
“(Its) activities in Tibet have also increased over a period of years, whether it is the quantum of troops or whether it is the number of personnel undertaking the exercises, and also the level of exercises.”
The Army also referred to cross-border firing on the Pakistani side, attempts to launch suicide attacks on camps in Kashmir, and the recent emergency in the neighbouring Maldives as areas for concern.
“Overall, we have a disturbed situation, and all the more important is that the defence forces should get their due and more attention is paid to them,” the representative said.
In a candid presentation to the lawmakers, the Army said the possibility of a two-front war is a ‘reality’, sharing its assessment that both of India’s big neighbours are modernising their armed forces.
“Modernisation of both Pakistan and China is going on in full swing. China is competing to reach the levels of US. It is important that we remain deterrent as far as these are concerned. The possibility of 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 (sic),” the Army said.
Consequences of budget cuts
Sharing specific instances of budget cuts affecting its operational capabilities, the Army has given the following examples to the Parliament panel:
Shortfall of Rs 889 crore for operations and maintenance
Impact: A volatile security situation like Doklam dictates additional expenditure due to enhanced deployment of troops & stores.
Shortfall of Rs 1,600 crore for ammunition and spares
Impact: Army tells the committee that post the Pathankot, Nagrota and Uri incidents of terrorist attacks, critical deficiency of ammunition, spares, armament & mines have been sought to be addressed, but there is a deficiency of allocation.
Shortfall of Rs 6,830 crore for reserves
Impact: Special schemes were rolled out to maintain critical availability of reserves for at least 10 days at any time. Contracts are in the final stages of conclusion, but shortage of funds will block this.