The Indian Air Force former chief P V Naik said, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Defence Minister of India, should avoid taking military decisions which are entirely based on the documents created by “babus”. He urged that the minister to have the service chiefs involved as well into the decision making, as required.
Talking about serving ‘military’ officers and ‘ministry’ officers, the retired Air Chief Marshal said, “It was important to integrate the armed forces with the department of defence. The defence ministry is unlike any other. Here it is ‘us’ versus ‘them’”.
He claimed the bureaucracy “conveniently” pointed to the Government of India Transaction of Business Rules of 1961 under which three service headquarters were designated as attached offices of the department of defence and placed in a subordinate position to the department.
“The chiefs of the three Armed Forces, with an experience of around four decades, are not mentioned in these rules, which state that the defence secretary is responsible for the country’s defence,” the IAF veteran told PTI as informed by the source.
Sitharaman, India’s first full-time woman defence minister, took charge of the key ministry from Arun Jaitley earlier this month.
“These officers carried a wealth of knowledge and experience in military security matters, he pointed out. “Tap this wealth. Give them easy access to your office”, said the former IAF Chief. “For a solution to any defence-related issue, the new Raksha Mantri should involve the ‘babus’ (bureaucrats) and also military chiefs and avoid taking military decisions based solely on the shadow files created by the babus,” he added.
Naik, who was the IAF chief from 2009 to 2011, has been an active member of various defence security and strategy groups since his retirement. He is also a key member of the ‘Group of 12’, comprising top former military officers and led by ex-Navy chief Admiral Jayant Nadkarni.
Having over 3,000 hours of flying in MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighter aircraft to his credit, Naik is also active at the Poona Dialogue on National Security, an annual event, and associated with groups such as the Centre for Analysis and Security Studies.
The Ex-IAF head also suggested the new minister, Sitharaman, to visit the forward bases and mingle with soldiers. He said the main need of the military today was equipment. He advocated a “drastic overhaul” of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Defence Research and Development Organisation by splitting them into viable entities under professional management and making them more accountable.