India is committed to peace and stability in the neighbourhood as also in the “wider region” and the Army will continue to partner with friends to “confront any kind of emerging threats”, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Friday. Addressing the fourth conclave of defence attaches here, Rawat also said that “we are manufacturing weapons not just to arm our defence forces, but we are now precisely becoming expert-oriented defence industry”.
“Our defence exports currently stand at about Rs 11,000 crore annually, and is expected to grow to Rs 35,000 crore by 2024, he said. In his address, Rawat praised the Indian armed forces and emphasised on empowering soldiers with good training and provision of quality weapons and equipment. “We are one of the leading armed forces of the world, not only by virtue of our size but also by virtue of our extensive combat experience, our professionalism” and other qualities. “Because of that we have other unique ethos. We are deeply committed to peace and stability in the neighbourhood as also in the wider region. And, we will continue, as we have in the past, to partner with our friends to confront any kind of emerging threats,” Rawat said.
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh also attended the conclave and in his address, he cited maritime threats such as piracy, which, he said has a “trans-national” character. He pitched for having greater maritime cooperation and leveraging “collective military competency” of the world.
“Navy is committed to enhancing cooperation and engagement with like-minded members in the Indian Ocean Region, and our cooperation ethos is guided, as articulated by the prime minister, by the 5Ss — Samman (honour), Samvad (dialogue), Sahyog (cooperation), Shanti (peace) and Samriddhi (prosperity),” he said. The Army chief, in his address earlier, also urged to the defence industry to provide solutions for the armed forces. “As we prepare to meet challenges that lie on our security path in an uncertain and complex world, we look towards the defence industry to provide solutions to meet the needs of our defence forces,” he said.
Rawat said any country maintains “armed forces or should I say, strong armed forces” for maintaining peace, stability and order. “But in order to maintain peace and stability, the armed forces have to be capable to deliver the intent when called upon to do so. And for that, you need a well-trained manpower, soldiers, sailors and airmen, who are empowered. And empowerment of soldiers come from good training, and providing them with good quality of weapon and equipment,” he said.
The Army chief said in a globalised world in order to “confront emerging threats, it will be wise to strengthen the paradigm of shared responsibilities for defence preparedness”. And in this context, the Indian industry will be happy to help meet the defence needs of friendly foreign countries, defence attaches or military attaches of many of whom are present here, he added.
“On our part, we will be glad to facilitate such initiatives in every possible way through the Army Design Bureau, a single-widow facilitation agency to interact with all the stakeholders,” he said. “And may I also assure you that our trial and acquisition process is the most rigorous in the world. You may therefore be assured that the products from the Indian defence ecological system will be sufficiently ruggedised and of the highest quality,” Rawat said.
In his speech, he also referred to the next Defence Expo scheduled to take place in February 2020. “Defence industries supported by the DRDO, ordnance factories and private enterprises would be showcasing their work. And some of the modern technologies would be on display. And we will be coming forward to certify some of the equipment that may be on display,” the Army chief said. “Our systems for trials are very robust and secure and countries can be rest assured if they have passed the test of time and test of ruggedness through the Indian armed forces, these can never fail anyone,” he said.
He also told the gathering that “we are trying to lower the bureaucratic barriers further while trying to focus resolutely on the outcome of our processes”. Also the energy and enterprise of Make in India will be spanned further in defence corridors being set up with a “bouquet of advantages we offer in the form of land clearances and tax concession”. “The initiative will fundamentally transform the defence landscape in our country,” Rawat said.
In the last few years, numerous initiatives have been taken and various schemes launched to energise the defence sector in India so we remain deeply committed to the ethos of indigenisation, he said. The theme of the event organised by a think tank was ‘Enhancing Defence Capabilities through Cooperation’. Newly-formed IDEEA (Indigenous Defence Equipment Exporters Association) was also launched on the occasion.
Rawat and Singh later visited the stalls put by various companies as part of the event and interacted with manufacturers. While interacting with senior officials of a Delhi-based manufacturer at one of the stalls, Rawat asked them to do more rigorous testing on bullet proof vests produced by the company.
He was also shown prototypes of boron and fibre made visor and helmet for soldiers to protect them from bullet injuries.