The Indian government has set up a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) to facilitate “comprehensive” planning for the defence forces besides focusing on military doctrines to deal with emerging security challenges.
The DPC is chaired by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval. The committee also comprises of the foreign secretary, Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs and secretary (expenditure) in the Finance Ministry.
Role of the DPC
The committee would prepare drafts of national security strategy and doctrines, international defence engagement strategy and roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem. It will work on strategy to boost defence exports, and prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces.
The draft reports would be then submitted to the Defence Minister for further approvals.
The DPC would also analyse and evaluate all relevant inputs relating to defence planning and foreign policy imperatives besides focusing on defence acquisition and infrastructure development plans including the 15-year-long integrated perspective plan.
The committee will also focus its energy on development of Indian defence industry and technology advancements.
To provide duly considered and refined inputs to the DPC, specific issues would be managed through a number of sub committees.
The sub-committees are likely to be in areas of policy and strategy, plans and capability development, defence diplomacy and defence manufacturing ecosystem.
This is not the first time a reform like the DPC has been tried for defence planning. In 1974, the apex group was established under the planning minister to bring defence planning under the purview of national planning.
In 1977, the then government had set up a Committee for Defence Planning (CDP) to allocae resources among the defence services and “undertake regular assessments relevant to defence planning”.
On the lines of NATO
The Defence Planning Committee was a former senior decision-making body on matters relating to the integrated military structure of NATO. It was dissolved following a major committee review in June 2010 and its responsibilities absorbed by the North Atlantic Council.
The DPC was the ultimate authority on all questions related to NATO’s integrated military structure. It provided guidance to NATO’s military authorities and oversaw the force planning process.
While India does have a defence planning architecture in place, this is the first time it is creating a body that will factor in 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 while coming up with a plan.
The DPC will prepare military doctrines and, in turn, define Indian military objectives for the future. The doctrines will reflect India’s no-first-use nuclear policy as well as take into account the possibility of a two-front war (on the country’s western and northern fronts). They will justify the Indian Navy’s demand of two aircraft carriers and the role of Indian Air Force in the era of long range stand-off weapons and missile theatre defence.