In a historic decision undertaken by the Central government on Monday, the armed personnel in all three forces of the country viz. army, navy and air force will now formally be appointed as additional secretary and joint secretaries in the Ministry of Defence.
According to a report by The Print, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appointed Lt Gen. Anil Puri as the Additional Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). Maj. Gen. K. Narayanan, Rear Admiral Kapil Mohan Dhir and Air Vice Marshal Hardeep Bains have been appointed as joint secretaries in the DMA.
The landmark decision is being hailed as a significant step in the history of armed forces, as well as DMA which started functioning in January 2020 as part of the defence reforms introduced by the government. It is imperative to note that DMA is the fifth department under the Ministry of Defence, after the Department of Defence, Department of Defence Production, DRDO and Department of Ex-servicemen.
Till now these positions in the DMA were held by the uniformed officers as the officiating appointments.
“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 source was quoted as saying by the publication.
The DMA is currently headed by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Singh Rawat. First recommended after the 1999 Kargil War, the demand for having a CDS had been raised on multiple occasions by experts and veterans to ensure better communication and coordination between different arms of the Indian defence forces. However, it was the Modi government that took the monumental decision in 2019 to create a more synergistic system between the three armed forces.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar: Government has approved the creation of post of Chief of Defence Staff. The officer to be appointed as Chief of Defence Staff will be a four star General and will also head the Department of military affairs pic.twitter.com/hC4ibOT5p4
— ANI (@ANI) December 24, 2019
CDS Rawat was the first uniformed officer to be given the rank of the Secretary hitherto preserved only for civilian administrators. Also, two IAS officers, Rajeev Singh Thakur and Shantanu, were moved to the Department of Military Affairs.
One of the glaring differences between this government and the previous governments has been the freehold given to the various armed forces. The armed forces have been given wide decision-making powers, which was absent with the previous regimes. This bold attitude of the government and more than that, the coherence between the centre and the armed forces have already helped them to conduct multiple strikes on terror camps, across the borders.
The Modi government’s decision to include military officers as secretaries in Defence ministry will be a game-changer and hopefully, it helps the forces to get rid of the unnecessary bureaucratic paperwork and focus on the task at hand.