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Enhancing military capabilities top priority: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that his top priority is to enhance military capabilities of the country with due focus on modernization of the armed forces.

Inaugurating a two-day Controllers’ Conference of Defence Accounts Department, today, he said, high serviceability levels of equipment and weapon systems and high morale of soldiers is also necessary which is possible with an effective and optimum resource utilisation.

He stressed on working as an integrated whole with shared resources of data and information, specifically in area of pension, payments, compilation and accounting preferably on real time basis.

The Defence Minister emphasized that faster and transparent decision making and focus on “Make in India” are the two pillars of our strategy for leapfrogging our economy to a higher growth.  Parrikar cautioned the Defence Accounts officials against any attack of hackers on their database.

The Defence Minister also hinted that an order regarding implementation of One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) may be issued very soon. He said after the implementation of OROP the pension related anomalies will be reduced. On this occasion a statistical hand book on defence expenditure was also released by the Defence Minister.

Earlier, Director General of Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) Shri MJ Joseph presented a ISO 9001 certificate to Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) Shri Arvind Kaushal for its Delhi Defence Accounts Office.

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Indian Navy, Restructuring its Organisational Setup to Cater to Advancements in its Military and Technical Systems

As per Navy sources, the proposal was discussed at length at the recently concluded Navy Commander's Conference in New Delhi

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As per a senior Navy official, the re-orientation will result in functional re-organisation and optimal manning of its platforms by efficiently utilising the lean manpower. Pixabay

Indian Navy, the leanest of the three armed forces of the country, is contemplating restructuring its organisational setup to cater to the advancements in its military and technical systems.

The re-orientation is proposed as the force is acquiring systems with super-special technologies equipped on platforms, including new ships, frigates and submarines. As per a senior Navy official, the re-orientation will result in functional re-organisation and optimal manning of its platforms by efficiently utilising the lean manpower at its disposal.

As per Navy sources, the proposal was discussed at length at the recently concluded Navy Commander’s Conference in New Delhi.

At present, the Navy’s staff strength is 56,000, which includes 5,600 officers. In comparison, the staff strength of the Air Force is 1.5 lakh and the Army, 13 lakh.

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The re-orientation is proposed as the force is acquiring systems with super-special technologies equipped on platforms, including new ships, frigates and submarines. Pixabay

“Discussions are underway to develop an organisational structure based on the Operator-Maintainer concept of the US Navy. In this concept, the operator of any system on a particular platform is technically qualified to undertake the first line of maintenance of that system,” said a senior Navy official.

However, given the technical complexities involved in operation of new systems on board any platform, technical knowledge is required.

“To acquire crew with the requisite technical knowledge, the Navy is contemplating on altering their training methodologies and even recruiting staff with the necessary education backgrounds,” said the official.

Indian ships typically have two sets of crew. There are sets of ‘operators’ to run systems, like radars, a fire control systems or guns. There are separate sets of ‘maintainers’ whose services are called in when any of the systems malfunction. The ‘operator-maintainer’ concept would mean overlapping of technically complex functionalities.

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As per experts, Russian ships too follow the operator-maintainer concept. Russian platforms were witness to massive overcrowding when they were inducted into the Indian Navy because these were designed to accommodate only a limited number of persons. The Royal Navy of the UK has tried this system on its ships too.

“In the operator-maintainer concept, each person has to be technically qualified because maintaining a modern platform is complex. There are two issues involved for India in adopting this system. The existing crew has to be trained with much higher level of technical competence.

After merging of functions, leaves available to any staff, which is around three months a year, have to be curtailed. Another issue pertains to the costs involved in training the staff. There has been a trend among officials quitting the Navy after 15 years of service for lucrative jobs in other sectors of the economy,” former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash told IANS. (IANS)

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Global Rise In Military Spendings, Data States

Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, the world's military spending is at an all-time high

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U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in have lunch with troops at U.S. military installation Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Nov. 7, 2017. VOA

Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, the world’s military spending is at an all-time high. According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, military spending was $1.8 trillion in 2018 alone, which SIPRI Senior Researcher Pieter Wezeman called a “worrying trend.”

“We have to see that as a warning signal, not necessarily something which will lead to war, but something which needs very close attention,” Wezeman told VOA.

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A U.S. fighter jet takes off from the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to patrol the international waters off the South China Sea, Aug. 6, 2019. VOA

Military spending hit a post-Cold War low in 1998, but took a sharp rise after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Obama administration began making military budget cuts during efforts to end U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now military spending is on the rise again — thanks to Russia and China.

Speaking exclusively with VOA, the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper called Russia and China “revisionist powers that would like to be in a place where they’re not.”

“I wouldn’t call this an arms race,” Cooper said, “but what is different is that we are in places that are more competitive than they were in the past.”

The United States accounts for more than a third of global military spending.

It boasts 11 aircraft carriers, a powerful nuclear arsenal, new elite fighter jets and about 2.1 million troops. Experts agree its military remains the dominant force.

“I think sometimes there’s a tendency to make Russia and China 30 feet tall, and they’re not,” Bradley Bowman, a former military officer and a current senior director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told VOA. “There are real vulnerabilities there that we could exploit in a conflict, but there are also areas where they’re more advanced than we are.”

‘Coerce and defeat’

China is now the world’s second-largest military spender — going from just 2% of the world’s military budget in 1990 to 14% now.

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Troops are seen by a row of over a dozen army jeeps at the Shek Kong military base of People’s Liberation Army in New Territories, Hong Kong, China, Aug. 29, 2019. VOA

Bowman warned allies and partners that China has undertaken this comprehensive effort to modernize its military in order to “coerce and defeat” the U.S. and its allies in a future conflict.

China built two aircraft carriers in the past decade, and a third is under construction. China has developed its own elite fighter jets, troop numbers have swelled to more than 2.5 million, and it is investing in new technologies, including hypersonics weapons that would fly five times the speed of sound.

Wezeman says the swift modernization has been “perceived as a threat by its neighbors.”

Other top spenders

In reaction, India has upped its military spending by more than $11 billion in just three years, now ranking fourth overall behind Saudi Arabia.

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Although Russia slipped from the top five spending countries in 2018, it still has NATO’s attention after invading Georgia in 2008 and annexing part of Ukraine in 2014.

The 29 NATO countries spent $963 billion, 53% of world military spending, in 2018.

That number is likely to increase as the U.S. continues to pressure NATO allies to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defense.

“We can’t let countries off the hook,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “You can’t simply substitute and say, ‘Well, my 2% is going to go to technology, or I’m going to build infrastructure. I can’t deter a Russian brigade with a road.’ We need real capability.” (VOA)

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Nearly Three-Quarters of Young Americans Unfit to Serve in America’s Military

U.S. President Donald Trump encouraged Americans to enlist in the military

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FILE - Matt Elam, center, competes in a US Marine pull-up contest while Marine recruiters watch. VOA

As he reveled in the huge display of military might during last week’s Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, U.S. President Donald Trump encouraged Americans to enlist in the military.

“To young Americans across our country, now is your chance to join our military and make a truly great statement in life, and you should do it,” Trump said in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House the following day, Trump predicted that his display would boost military enlistment. “Based on that, we’re going to have a lot of people joining our military,” he said.

However, with a 2016 Department of Defense report finding that nearly three-quarters of young Americans are unfit to serve in America’s military, Trump’s encouragement and military display may not be enough to reverse declining military recruitment.

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President Donald Trump applauds during an Independence Day celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial, July 4, 2019, in Washington. VOA

According to the Department of Defense, the Navy, Marines, and Air Force met their recruiting goals in 2018, but the Army, the military’s largest branch, fell more than 6,500 recruits short – about 8% below its target of 76,500.

A 2018 report by Mission: Readiness, a group of 750 retired military professionals that makes policy recommendations to increase the percentage of young Americans eligible to serve in the military, found that 71% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 fail to meet all of the basic requirements for military service.

The biggest disqualifier is obesity, with roughly 31% of American youths disqualified because they are overweight. Other factors explaining the shortage of eligible recruits are inadequate education, criminal history and drug use. According to Army Major Gen. (Ret.) Allen Youngman, a member of Mission: Readiness, almost 25% of high school graduates are unable to pass the basic military entrance exams, which not only disqualifies them from technical positions within the service but also from military service as a whole.

Not only is the pool of eligible recruits shrinking, but the number of young Americans interested in military careers is dropping as well, the report found. This is partly the result of a strong national economy, since plentiful civilian jobs may make military careers seem less appealing, according to Youngman.

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As the number of people serving in the military declines, the problem is likely to get worse. “The number of what we call influencers in a young person’s life – people who may have had military service of their own who would serve as a role model or even encourage a young person to consider military service – is down because the number of persons who participate in the military over the years has gone down,” said  Youngman. The U.S. Army Recruiting Command reports that 79% of recruits have a relative who also served in the military.

Relaxing education or criminal history standards in order to enlarge the recruiting pool in light of the obesity issue isn’t an option, said General Youngman. “The position today is that the standards are the standards. We’ve just got to work harder to find young people who can meet them.”

However, the trends are not encouraging.

By age two, 14% of American children are already considered obese, and the proportion of overweight or obese children increases with age, the Mission: Readiness report finds. In the 16-19 age group, 42% of Americans are overweight. These statistics carry over into adulthood, with 70% of overweight teens becoming overweight or obese adults.

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This Tuesday, April 3, 2018 photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York. VOA

The problem is especially acute in southern states, which provide a disproportionately large percentage of military recruits, but also have some of the highest rates of obesity in the nation.

Efforts are under way to improve the health of America’s youth.

As an example, Youngman cited the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which provides improved nutrition guidelines for school lunches. The program is the latest in a series of initiatives beginning with the National School Lunch Program in 1946.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the School Lunch Program started right after World War II as a national security program,” General Youngman said. “There was such concern about the overwhelming numbers of young people who were not qualified for military service in World War II because they grew up during the Great Depression and they had all sorts of nutrition issues that resulted in health issues later on.”

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In the wake of the Great Depression, the goal of the School Lunch Program was to ensure that kids got enough calories from their school lunches. Today, calories are in general much easier to come by, so modern school lunch programs focus on helping students make healthier food choices. A 2014 study of 1,030 elementary-school children found that students selected 23% more fruit for their lunches and ate 16% more vegetables after the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Programs that seek to improve nutrition for school-aged children as well as encourage active lifestyles are important not only for military readiness, but also for society as a whole.

“There are some bright spots out there, but as a nation we still have a long way to go,” Youngman said. (VOA)

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