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Announcement of new army, air chiefs very soon: Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the names of the next army and navy chiefs will be announced very soon.

“I don’t see any reason why it has to be two months ahead… they are out of the top people in the forces. The Defence Ministry has cleared the names. It has to be approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet,” Parrikar said.

He was speaking at an interactive session in the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here.

The current Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh, and Indian Air Force chief, Air Marshal Arup Raha, are retiring on December 31. As per the convention, the service chiefs are named two months ahead of the impending retirement of incumbents.

As for the Indian Army’s September 28-29 surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Pakistan, Parrikar said: “The surgical strikes introduced a degree of uncertainty in the minds of our adversaries.”

“Earlier, one thing was very sure (that) India won’t cross (over),” he added.

As for the delay in the implementation of a committee’s recommendation for beefing up security at military bases, Parrikar said: “You can’t create the infrastructure overnight. The selection of technology is equally important. Those aspects are already being cleared out.”

A tri-services panel headed by former Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Philip Campose had pointed out deficiencies in security infrastructure. The panel took a close look at the issues involved and came up with upgraded standard operating procedures for all defence installations to prevent militant attacks.

The panel submitted its report to Parrikar in May.

Speaking on the Nagrota attack in Jammu and Kashmir, the minister said: “It is very painful to see soldiers die…”

Speaking on the opposition’s questioning the attempt to hog credit for the surgical strikes, he said: “I am not taking credit for the strikes. I am taking credit for the capacity to take a decision.”

Regarding clearance of the defence procurement backlog, the minister said that he could not clear all the backlog. “What we have ordered today has to be catered for in the next five to seven years,” he said.

“I have laid down a plan. I will be very happy to have three per cent of the gross domestic product (for defence expenditure); it can’t be done overnight. I think the economy will be able to generate some cash.”

India currently spends more than two per cent of its GDP on defence.

He said the cost of defence acquisitions had come down. “In one case, I saw the price coming down to 20 per cent.”

—ians