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Rajnath Singh Takes Charge as Defence Minister, Holds High-level Meeting With Service Chiefs

As defence minister, Singh's most crucial challenge will be modernisation of the three services, ensuring peace and tranquility along the frontier with China and containing infiltration of terrorists into J&K from Pakistan.


Updated:June 1, 2019, 5:40 PM IST

New Delhi: Rajnath Singh on Saturday took charge as the defence minister and immediately held a meeting with the top military brass. He asked the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force to prepare separate presentations on the challenges and overall functioning of their respective forces.

The former home minister held a meeting with Army chief General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa and newly-appointed Navy chief Karambir Singh at the headquarters of the defence ministry at Raisina Hill, during which he was apprised of the security scenario, officials said. The defence secretary and several other senior officials of the ministry were also present.

Officials said separate wings of the ministry were also told to prepare presentations, which will be soon reviewed at a meeting.

Singh, who was the Home Minister in the previous government, was accorded a grand welcome by the three services chiefs and senior officials when he arrived around noon. Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and top ministry officials also welcomed him.

A ministry spokesperson said Singh urged all those who greeted him to give their best and work towards achieving the "targets".

Earlier in the day, Singh visited the National War Memorial and paid tributes to the fallen heroes.

As defence minister, Singh's most crucial challenge will be to speed up the long-delayed modernisation of the three services besides ensuring overall coherence in their combat readiness. Another challenge will be to ensure peace and tranquility along the frontier with China while developing the required military infrastructure to deal with any possible hostility.

As he took charge of the ministry just three months after India carried out air strikes on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot, it is expected that he will continue with the policy of hot pursuit in dealing with cross-border terrorism.

Containing the infiltration of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan will be another area of focus. As defence minister, Singh will face the challenge of strengthening the combat capabilities of the Army, Navy and the Air Force due to the changing regional security matrix and geo-political dynamics.

The forces have been pressing for equipment to deal with hybrid warfare and Singh will have to attend to this crucial demand. The government has been focusing on domestic defence production and Singh will have to carry forward a number of big-ticket reform initiatives, including implementing the ambitious "strategic partnership" model.

Under the new model, select Indian private firms will be roped in to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in partnership with foreign defence majors. Singh also faces the challenge of modernising the defence research organisations and various other defence public sector undertakings so they can produce state-of-the art military hardware to match requirement of the forces.

Singh will also have to oversee the implementation of major reforms in the 12-lakh strong Army. The Army has already finalised a blueprint for its reform, including right-sizing of the force.

His predecessor, Nirmala Sitharaman, had taken on the opposition head-on with her fiery defence of the Rafale fighter jet deal and it will be interesting to see how Singh deals with the issue.

(With PTI Inputs)

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