India’s military might key to its growing clout: Antony


New Delhi : The Indian military must always be combat ready, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Thursday, hours after stating that the country’s military might was key to its growing global clout.

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With India likely to become the world’s third largest economy by 2050, this would lead to a rapid growth in the country’s energy needs and pose new challenges to keep the sea-lanes open, he said while addressing a conference of the Indian Navy’s top commanders here Thursday.

“To effectively meet these challenges, we must evolve strategies that deny or reduce the freedom of our enemies to exploit the maritime environment. To achieve this objective, the services have to be developed into balanced and combat-ready forces,” Antony said.

The statement expanded on a theme the defence minister had developed Wednesday night.

“Indeed, our military might is also an important contribution to (India’s) rise as a regional and global power,” he had said in his closing address at the Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa Memorial Lecture.

“India has one of the world’s largest professional armed forces. Our army is one of the finest fighting machines in the world and has proved to be effective in combating insurgency and low-key conflicts for over three decades,” the minister maintained.

“Indian Navy has the largest presence in Indian Ocean after the United States and fields an aircraft carrier, which allows it to extend its operations beyond its immediate areas of concern. Our air force has already demonstrated that it can be counted among the world’s best in a series of joint exercises,” Antony added.

This apart, the country’s military training institutions like the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy “are among the best in the world”, he stated.

Returning to the theme Thursday, the minister said: “I wish to assure all of you that the government is fully committed to modernisation and to provide the latest possible equipment to the services.”

At the same time, it was the services’ responsibility to ensure that the funds allocated are utilised “judiciously and optimally”, Antony maintained.

“Time overrun of projects naturally leads to cost overruns, which in turn requires revised approvals, resulting in further delays,” he said, adding: “There is a critical need to institute suitable and adequate monitoring mechanisms to avoid delays in project implementation.”

According to the minister, the paradigm shift in military affairs today “is driven by the merger of evolving high-end technology, which allows sifting and transfer of data in real time, enabling quick decision-making.

“Thus, our armed forces will have to evolve as a technology-intensive and networked force, ready to operate in an integrated manner,” Antony added.

Calling for “a special effort” to identify and induct technologies that serve as force multipliers, the minister also sounded a note of caution.

“These technological advances also pose a challenge — ensuring the security of information and data flow. I am sure that you will also be discussing ways and means to enhance cyber and network security during this conference,” Antony told the naval commanders.