NEW DELHI: The newly created department of military affairs (DMA), headed by chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, will oversee key matters related to India’s neighbouring countries including border disputes and incidents, development of infrastructure in forward areas and deployment of forces, according to a new defence ministry order.
These countries include China, Pakistan and Bhutan, foreign media reported on Sunday. Supply of arms and ammunition to friendly neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives will also come under the purview of the DMA, said the order published on Friday. It gave out details of work transferred from the ministry’s department of defence (DoD) to the DMA.
The new department is an addition to the four existing verticals in the defence ministry — those of defence, defence production, defence research, and development and ex-service welfare.
The DMA will be staffed with two joint secretaries, 13 deputy secretaries, 25 under secretaries and 22 section officers. Monitoring developments in the Indian Ocean region, Afghanistan, West Asia and South East Asia will also be the responsibility of the DMA, according to the order. It clarified that notwithstanding the distribution of work, “any matter that has an import on the defence policy” will be dealt with by the DoD, headed by the defence secretary.
Rawat, who took over as India’s first CDS on December 31, is the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters related to the tri-services. Issues related to counter-insurgency operations and Siachen glacier will be dealt with by the DMA.
Some of the other significant responsibilities assigned to the DMA include restructuring of the army, operational matters of the Indian Air Force, overseas deployment of warships, coastal security, revenue procurements and war wastage reserves (WWR) of the three services.
The armed forces are authorised to stockpile ammunition for a specified period of intense fighting, known as WWR in military parlance.
Experts said the vast mandate of the DMA will bring about greater jointmanship in the military, accelerate decision-making and avoid duplication of efforts. Jointmanship refers to a degree of coordination and integration in terms of strategy, capabilities and execution across the three services.
“Until now, the DoD was shouldering large responsibilities without having military officers in key positions. The DMA will foster better integration as it will be staffed with experts from the three services and also bureaucrats,” said Lieutenant General Satish Dua (retd), a leading expert of tri-services matters.
The secretariat of the defence acquisition council (DAC), the ministry’s apex capital procurement body, will function under the DoD. “The secretariat for DAC presently under the HQs Integrated Defence Staff will be shifted to the Director General, Acquisition Wing of DoD,” the order said.
The DMA will, however, deal with procurement of air-to-air missiles and air-to-air guided weapons. It will also oversee the postings of senior officers (two stars and above), matters relating to India’s military attachés posted abroad and humanitarian aid to foreign countries. The DMA will work towards promoting the use of indigenous equipment by the services at a time when the armed forces are heavily dependent on imported military hardware.
The government expects the CDS to bring about jointness among the three services within three years. One of the key objectives behind jointmanship is the setting up of joint/ theatre commands for the best use of military resources to fight future battles. While the army and the navy have been open to the idea, the IAF has concerns about theaterisation.