IN a conference with top commanders of the three armed forced on Friday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the “adversary” should not be allowed to exploit the current situation while the forces battle COVID-19.
On Friday, Singh reviewed the operational preparedness of the three services to fight COVID-19, in a conference with the Chief of Defence Staff, three service chiefs and Commanders-in-Chief of the three armed forces and senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials.
A press statement from the Ministry of Defence stated that Singh “directed the Forces to initiate measures to spend financial resources, avoiding wastage in view of the economic burden imposed by COVID-19. Stressing on the requirement of jointness of the Armed Forces, Defence Ministry asked the Commanders-in-Chief to identify and prioritise tasks that could be accomplished quickly and assist in revival of the economy after the lockdown is lifted.”
The Union defence minister, in his address to the Commanders, appreciated the role of the armed forces for the assistance extended to the local civilian administration and preparatory measures taken to fight COVID-19. “Shri Rajnath Singh expected the forces to ensure their operational preparedness while they are battling COVID-19, and said the adversary should not be allowed to exploit the current situation,” read the press statement.
“During the conference, the Commanders-in-Chief apprised the Defence Minister of various measures put in place by them to prevent virus infection among the Forces and assistance extended to the local civilian administration. These include issue of Standard Operating Procedures on COVID-19, introduction of appropriate modifications in protocols and drills as per the advisories issued by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and other agencies, and taking care of the Ex-Servicemen and their families residing in their respective command areas,” it stated.Along with the Defence Minister, the conference was attended by Chief of Defence Staff and Secretary, Department of Military Affairs, General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Secretary (Defence Finance) Gargi Kaul, among others.
MoD officials said in the meeting, the Commanders appreciated recent devolution of emergency financial powers by the Ministry of Defence, which has ensured timely procurement of necessary medical supplies to bolster the health infrastructure of the hospitals. The Commanders told the minister that isolation and quarantine facilities have been set up for use of the forces as well as the local civilian administration. They have also expressed readiness to pitch in to maintain essential services locally, if requested by the civilian administration.