Prime Minister Narendra Modi today exhorted the armed forces to be prepared for a changing world, which demanded new thinking on with regard to economic, diplomatic and security policies even as he outlined India's key strategic and security challenges and priorities.
He said the world was looking at India with renewed interest, confidence and excitement and there was a universal current of expectation from India to emerge not only as one of the poles of the global economy, but also as one of the anchors of regional and global security.
Prime minister emphasised that an atmosphere of peace and security was essential to enable India to achieve its goals of economic development. For this purpose, he said, his government has focused on creating a favourable external environment and on strengthening India's security.
But, he said, "Beyond the immediate, we are facing a future where security challenges will be less predictable; situations will evolve and change swiftly and, technological changes will make responses more difficult to keep pace with. The threats may be known, but the enemy may be invisible. Domination of cyber space will become increasingly important. Control of space may become as critical as that of land, air and sea.''
''Full scale wars may become rare, but force will remain an instrument of deterrence and influencing behaviour, and the duration of conflicts will be shorter,'' he noted.
The prime minister assured the armed forces that the government will provide adequate resources to ensure full defence preparedness, overcome shortages and meet modernisation needs even as he called for reform in the procurement processes and corrective measures to avoid delays in domestic development and production of defence equipment.
He also urged the forces to focus on efficiency and economy in the use of resources and military assets, including through greater integration and sharing of resources among the services and by drawing up long term acquisition plans keeping in view availability of resources, future operational requirements and technology trends.
''We should remember that what matters is capability of the force.'' Also, he said, ''When we speak of Digital India, we would also like to see a Digital Armed Force,'' and asked the Services must give serious thought to upgrade technological skills for effective projection of power by men.
The most important task, the prime minister said, was to transform the defence forces. He called for increased cohesion among the three services so that they work as a team all the way from the lowest levels to the top.
He suggested a number of practical steps to achieve that goal. He also felt that commanders conferences should be organised alternately on sea, in forward army camps and at air bases, and not just in Delhi.
The prime minister also assured the commanders that he would continue the practice that he had started of meeting the three Chiefs at least once a month.
Outlining his vision of expanding domestic defence industrial base, he stressed the important role that the services can play, both by committing to targets for domestic procurement and participating in innovation and improvements in domestically produced equipment.
The prime minister said that he attached the highest priority to the welfare of armed forces personnel, both during and after their service careers.
He assured the commanders that he would do everything to fulfill the promises made on `one-rank, one-pension'; improving service conditions; and, creating better safety nets and opportunities for services after retirement.