Recently, the Indian government has taken a major decision regarding the working framework of the Ministry of Defence. For the first time, the government has appointed uniformed officers i.e. officers from Army, Navy, Airforce on the post of additional secretary, joint secretary, and undersecretary in the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). Earlier the post is vested in the hands of IAS officers, who work as secretaries.
Before discussing the change, let’s first discuss the working framework of Ministry of Defence and how it functions……… let’s start………..
Ministry of Defence (MoD)
The responsibility for the national security of India lies in the hands of the Government of India. This responsibility is discharged through the Ministry of Defence, which provides the policy framework and direction to the Armed Forces of India to discharge their responsibilities in the context of the defence of our country. The Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister) is the head of the Ministry of Defence.
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The principal task of the Defence Ministry is to obtain policy directions of the Government on all defence and security related matters and communicate them for implementation to the Services Headquarters, Inter-Services Organisations, Production Establishments and Research and Development Organisations. It is also tasked to ensure effective implementation of the Government’s policy directions and the execution of approved programmes within the allocated resources.
To ensure proper implementation of its policy the MoD consists of five Departments, which functions are :-
Department Of Defence
The Department of Defence is mandated with Defence of India including defence policy. It deals with Inter-Services Organizations, Defence Accounts Department, Coast Guard, National Cadet Corps, Border Roads Organisation, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, National Defence College etc. It is responsible for the Defence Budget, defence lands and cantonments, matters relating to Parliament, and defence cooperation with foreign countries.
It is headed by the Defence Secretary.
Department Of Defence Production
It deals with matters pertaining to defence production, indigenisation of imported stores, equipment and spares, planning and control of departmental production units of the Ordnance Factory Board and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).
It is headed by Secretary Defence Production.
Department of Defence Research and Development
Its function is to advise the Government on scientific aspects of military equipment and logistics and the formulation of research, design and development plans for equipment required by the Services.
It is headed by DRDO chief.
Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare
This department deals with all resettlement, welfare and pensionary matters of Ex-Servicemen.
It is headed by Secretary Ex-servicemen.
Department of Military Affairs
This Department deals with the Armed Forces of the Union namely, Army, Navy and Air Force; Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence; the Territorial Army; Works relating to the three services etc. The Department promotes jointness among the three Services.
It is headed by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
The recent changes in defence ministry has been done regarding the functioning of Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
Before discussing about the changes….. let’s first discuss about the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
The DMA was created on 1st January 2020. The CDS is ex-officio secretary of DMA. It consists of military and civilian officers, the DMA will promote jointness in various areas such as procurement, training and staffing. The DMA will deal the tri-service Integrated Defence Staff, with the headquarters of three armed force Army, Air and Naval, the Territorial Army and certain procurement requirements.
DMA will also deal with promoting jointness through joint planning, facilitate restructuring for optimal utilisation of resources and promote the use of indigenous equipment by the Services. The DMA, being under the Chief of Defence Staff will also deal with the role and responsibilities assigned to the chief. Its major responsibilities are :-
- Promotions and postings of senior officers
- War Wastage Reserves of all three forces
- Procurement of arms, ammunition, explosive etc. (except capital procurements, which are done through Defence Acquisition Council, DAC)
- Major infrastructure projects like creation of new naval bases
- Overseas deployment of warships, aircrafts and personal
- Size, shape and composition of Army, Navy and Air Force
- Supply of arms and ammunition to neighbouring countries
In addition to the Chief of Defence Staff, the department comprises of one additional secretary, five joint secretaries, thirteen deputy secretaries, and twenty-five under secretaries.
What’s The New Change?
Till now apart from CDS, all appointments to the secretaries level comprises officers mostly from bureaucracy i.e. various secretaries working in DMA are mostly from the IAS cadre.
In a historic decision, the government has approved appointment of military personnel of the three forces as the additional secretary and joint secretary in the Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved names of four armed forces officers as secretaries to GoI :-
- Lieutenant General Anil Puri will be Additional Secretary in DMA
- Major General K. Narayanan / Rear Admiral Kapil Mohan Dhir/ Air Vice Marshal Hardeep Bains have been named as Joint Secretaries in DMA
What It Will Change?
The Indian bureaucracy is often criticized for its Red Tapism. The slow working culture of our bureaucracy, they are less experienced as compared to military officers, had affected the working capabilities of our Armed Forces. Due to various bureaucratic hurdles, there have been delays in any policy implementation.
Since India’s independence, various governments had tried to limit the role of Armed Forces to only national security. As that period, was an era of a military coup in neighboring countries of India like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, so the Indian Government was apprehensive to give more power to the military. But after the Kargil war, the Kargil review committee and various other committees had recommended the induction of military personnel to some bureaucratic posts.
The situation was changed when in 2019, when the government announced the creation of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The government also created a seperate department under MoD as Department of Military Affairs (DMA) which will be headed by CDS, giving some bureaucratic power to military.
Till now, all files had to be moved to CDS for implementation of all decisions. This is no longer needed because now each appointment i.e. secretaries are from military background and can now dispose of files as per powers delegated. It means now, the additional / joint secretaries of DMA can dispose of files as per their jurisdiction. Now, there is no need to send each and every file to CDS.
The formal appointments will make the entire DMA process much smoother and with lesser traditional bureaucratic hassle. This will improve working efficiency of DMA and now it can take decision independently.
The national security of any country directly or indirectly affects normal citizens. The best brain should be utilized in making any policy, either the person is a military officer or a bureaucrat. Any country will only head towards prosperity when each and every member contributes. The same case is with the working of Defence Ministry, the coordination between military officers and bureaucrats should match, to make better and effective policy.