The Union Government on April 18, 2018 formed a new integrated institutional mechanism, Defence Planning Committee (DPC) to reform the process of higher defence planning.
The committee is expected to drive the country’s military and national security strategy, draft capability development plans and guide and accelerate defence equipment acquisitions.
Composition of the committee
The permanent body would be chaired by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
It will comprise the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), three service chiefs and the Defence, Expenditure and Foreign Secretaries.
The Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman of the Chief of the Staff Committee (CISC) will be the member secretary of the committee.
Functions of the Committee
• The committee will be required to undertake external security risk assessment and define national defence and security priorities.
• It will also have to prepare draft reports on national military strategy, national security strategy and international defence engagement strategy.
• It will also have to prepare a roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem and a strategy to boost defence exports and priority capability development plans.
• It will have to submit all its draft reports to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
• Besides, four sub-committees could be created under the DPC across four broad areas:
- Policy and strategy
- Plans and capability development
- Defence diplomacy
- Defence manufacturing eco-system
• The membership and the terms of reference of the sub-committees will be finalised separately.
The formation of the committee comes at a time when India is facing multiple threats from its highly militarized neighbourhood and is trying to balance budgetary constraints with its need for arms.
India is currently working on increasing its own expertise in manufacturing and exporting defence equipment.
Further, the decision of bringing foreign and expenditure secretaries into the defence planning process will help overcome the problems of coordination between various ministries on matters of national security. It will, in fact, speed up the decisions on military purchases.
• This is the first time that a defence body has been created that will take into account 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.
• Though the idea to create such a mechanism that can undertake a comprehensive and integrated planning of higher defence matters had been in discussion for long, nothing concrete had come out of the talks until now.
• However, an equivalent reform was undertaken in 1974 when the Apex Group was established under the Planning Minister to bring defence planning within the broader purview of the national planning.
• Again in 1977, the government had set up a Committee for Defence Planning (CDP) under the Cabinet Secretary with different Union secretaries and service chiefs as its members.
• The committee was tasked with allocating resources among the defence services and undertaking regular assessments relevant to defence planning. However, it did not achieve the desired results.