In a significant defence policy reform notified on April 18, 2018, the government has revamped the existing defence planning system by establishing a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) under the chairmanship of the National Security Adviser (NSA). This new institutional mechanism, set up as a permanent body, is intended to “facilitate a comprehensive and integrated planning for defence matters” – a vital ingredient in defence preparedness, which was conspicuously missing in the mechanism set up in the early 2000s in the wake of the Kargil conflict. The new measure, arguably the boldest defence reform in decades, is likely to have a far-reaching consequence on the way defence planning is undertaken and on defence preparedness.
About the DPC:
The DPC will be a permanent body chaired by the National Security Advisor.
The committee will comprise:
- National Security Advisor (NSA).
- Foreign secretary.
- Chairman of chiefs of staff committee.
- The Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs.
- Secretary (expenditure) in the Finance Ministry.
The chairman of the DPC can co-opt experts into it depending on requirement.
Functions of the committee:
Prepare drafts of national security strategy and doctrines, international defence engagement strategy and roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem.
Work on a strategy to boost defence exports, and prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces.
Analyse and evaluate all relevant inputs relating to defence planning and foreign policy imperatives besides focusing on defence acquisition and infrastructure development plans including the 15-year-long integrated perspective plan.
Work on development of Indian defence industry and technology advancements.
Because the Prime Minister’s Office, the defence ministry, the finance ministry and the three services are part of the same committee, decisions on military purchases could now happen much faster.
The DPC would submit its draft reports to the Defence Minister according to “given timelines” following which further approvals will be obtained as required.
While India does have a defence planning architecture in place, this is the first time it is creating a body that will factor in everything from foreign policy imperatives to operational directives and long-term defence equipment acquisition and infrastructure development plans to technological developments in other parts of the world while coming up with a plan.
The move, which is a significant change in India’s defence strategy architecture, comes as the country faces several potential threats in a highly militarised neighbourhood; is trying to balance budgetary constraints with its need for arms, and is working on increasing its own expertise in manufacturing and exporting defence equipment. Until now, defence planning has been synonymous with hardware acquisition.