Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets with Indian Air Force commanders in New Delhi (PTI)
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who undertook a whirlwind tour of defence bases across the country, today called her visits an "eye-opening experience" and stressed on the integration of the three armed forces. In her 30-minute address at the Army Commanders' Conference, she said the integration was essential, particularly in the domain of training, communication, logistics and cyber sphere to prepare for any conflict. She also asked the Indian Army to continue "leveraging its strength in diplomatic defence cooperation with neighbourhood and in the region".
The Defence Minister said keeping the morale of the forces high at all times was a top priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
Army chief General Bipin Rawat, while welcoming the minister, talked about her extensive travel to forward posts, including Siachen and the north-east after taking charge of the Defence Ministry.
General Rawat expressed pleasure over the fact that Ms Sitharaman had already travelled extensively in border areas. Ms Sitharaman referred to her visits to forward areas and meeting with troops as "eye-opening", an official statement said.
The Defence Minister has been visiting forward areas and different bases of the three forces since she took over as the Defence Minister, and was also seen interacting with Chinese soldiers on her visit to Nathu La Pass
She conveyed the admiration of the nation for the professionalism of the Indian Army during incidents like the Doklam standoff, response to natural disasters and fighting insurgency in the north-east.
Assuring of a focus on capacity and capability development, Ms Sitharaman also promised close monitoring of improvement in strategic infrastructure, long-pending force modification requests, and welfare of serving and retired personnel and their families.
She told the Army commanders of her request to Home Minister Rajnath Singh for provisioning of HADR or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief equipment to allow the Indian Army to use it during natural disasters.
The week-long Army Commanders' Conference started on Monday, and will end on October 15.