In a move which is being hailed as a significant step in India’s Armed Forces history, uniformed personnel from the Army, Air Force and Navy have been formally appointed as additional secretary and joint secretaries in the Ministry of Defence — a first.
The move is in sync with the Narendra Modi-led government’s defence reforms and its plan to make the bureaucratic set-up much smoother, according to experts.
According to a report in The Print, in the May 6 order, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appointed Lt Gen. Anil Puri as the Additional Secretary in Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
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Further, Maj. Gen. K Narayanan, Rear Admiral Kapil Mohan Dhir and Air Vice Marshal Hardeep Bains were appointed as joint secretaries in DMA, which began functioning in January 2020.
Gen Bipin Rawat, however, holds the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Secretary, DMA.
So what does the change mean for the military? According to experts, the formal appointment opens up quick decision-making powers, besides streamlining multiple functions.
“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,” a military source told The Print.
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.
In the article, The Print further explains, “While the DMA will look after all procurement exclusive to the three services — barring capital acquisitions — its mandate includes promoting ‘jointness’ in procurement, training and staffing for the services through joint planning and integration of their requirements.