NEW DELHI: Taken aback by the revelations made by chief of Army staff (COAS) General V K Singh, in his confidential letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on the lack of critical weapons for the Army, Parliament’s standing committee on defence has summoned all the three service chiefs — Army, Navy and Air Force — on April 20 to discuss the state of preparedness of the armed forces.
It is the first time all the three service chiefs have been called together by the committee.
The Army chief, in his letter to the prime minister, had said 97 per cent of the air defence system of the Army was obsolete, there was a lack of ammunition for tanks and the elite para commando units short of critical weapons. The letter, however, was leaked to the media and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is trying to find out who had done so. During the course of discussion in the previous meeting of the committee, vice-chief, S K Singh, had told the committee that Army had decided to spend 21 per cent of its Rs 18,828-crore budget on air air defence system, 17 per cent for artillery, 15 per cent on infantry and 14 per cent for mechanised forces.
“First, it was thought the Army chief should be called but then the members agreed all three service chiefs must be called by the committee to discuss preparedness,” said those in the know of the development.
Members of the committee were annoyed with both the vice-chief and defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and wanted to know why the committee was not informed about the lack of weapons and defence system for the Army.
“The Army has not used Rs 10,000 crore between 2009-2011. The question is why didn’t the Army use these resources for capital expenditure when there was lack of weapons and defence system in the force. The Army blames bureaucracy for slowing down the procurement process,” said those in the know.
Some members of the committee also wanted to summon V K Singh to question him on the alleged troop movement towards Delhi from Agra and Hisar on the night of January 16-17.
However, defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma had defended the troop movement and had told the committee members that there was no breach of protocol as the Army is not supposed to notify troop movements to defence ministry all the time.