- Minister will hold Defence Acquisition Council meetings every 2 weeks
- She met top defence officials, issued clear directions on crucial issues
- Will review defence preparedness and allied issues of strategic interests
An official statement said on Monday that Ms Sitharaman, who took charge last Thursday, has held a number of meetings with senior officials to familiarise herself with the activities and functioning of the defence ministry, and has issued "clear directions" on "critical issues". As she took over last week she had said she would be a round-the-clock defence minister.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), is the highest decision making body on defence procurement. It includes the defence secretary, senior officers of the armed forces and is chaired by the minister. Meetings of the DAC have so far been held once in a month, sometimes with bigger gaps than that between two meetings. The DAC is the nodal body within the defence ministry which is expected to clear the acquisition of big-ticket items like 100 new single engine jet fighters the Indian Air Force is looking to acquire, a new indigenous aircraft carrier the Navy is considering or any other significant new contracts.
Nirmala Sitharaman, 58, is India's first standalone woman defence minister. Indira Gandhi had held charge of the ministry twice when she was prime Minister. Ms Sitharaman, who was commerce minister of state with independent charge, was promoted to cabinet rank in a reshuffle earlier this month.
She took over from Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who had held dual charge ever since former Defence Minister Manaohar Parrikar quit in March this year to return to Goa as chief minister.