Integration of Defence Apparatus

30 Jan, 1999    ·   171

Report of IPCS seminar held on 22 January 99

Mr. P.R. Chari initiated the discussion questioning the Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes’ determination to  integrate the three Services and the defence ministry within a month. Fernandes had also made a statement that six military officials of the rank of Major General would be posted to the Military of Defence (MoD) and that a three men Committee would be appointed to draw up a blee print for this purpose. ( See The Hindu, 5th January 99 and 8th January 99). He wondered whether new posts were going to be created for these six military officials in the MoD or were they going to replace officers already posted.



He agreed that there was an element of truth in the criticism by Services Headquarters that MoD civilians were an obstacle between them and the Defence Minister.The MoD (Finance) was believed to be obstructionist, and MoD was also thought to be the chief cause of delays in the decision making process. This is because MoD civilians are not recruited exclusively for the job. He cited the recommendations by the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) that a Defence Management Service should be formed to train and man the MoD and related departments, which was rejected by MoD. An attempt made to train new MoD entrants in 1986 was given up due to reasons of economy.



Chari also criticised the present structure of MoD as a distorted version of the British system. The Defence Minister’s position in India resembles that of the British Secretary of State for India who held the real power during the British period. In the post-independence period Jawaharlal Nehru suggested the constitution of an Army Council on the British pattern. The three Services Chiefs accepted the idea initially, but rejected it later since they felt it would reduce their powers. Ever since the Services Chiefs have remained outside the decision-making structure, whilst the Defence Secretary gained unfettered access to the Defence Minister.



Chari also proposed the following regarding the integration of Defence apparatus:



·                     Separation of functions between the MoD and the Service Headquarters;


·                     Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to be held in rotation from the three Services with independent access to the Defence Minister;


·                     Reviving the DMC;


·                     Restarting the ‘Morning meetings’ with its original objectives;


·                     ‘Procurement Executive’ to be established as a professional body for selection of weapons and related commercial negotiations;


·                     A truly integrated finance department; and


·                     Integrated Theater Commands


Lt. Gen. A.M. Vohra continued the discussions by suggesting that integration should be based on the British model with MoD having four elements – Army, Navy, Air Force and the Secretary of MoD. He argued that at first there was a need for coordination between the three Services Chiefs. This could be achieved through the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), held in rotation between the three Services.



During the course of discussions the following were suggested;



·                     Integration of the three Services is essential before any attempt to integrate them with the MoD;


·                     Both Civilians and the military officials need training about  the other side of the defence apparatus;


·                     Theatre Commands are imperative;


·                     Since the Finance Ministry acts as a stumbling block, the Chiefs should have control over finance with full responsibility and accountability;


·                     Procurement Executive is essential and should be a professional body;


·                     Operational and Administrative functions of the MoD should be differentiated; and


·                     Any attempt towards integration should not be cosmetic but must  also not be avoided for reasons of politicians’ fear of the uniformed forces.