Achieving Atmanirbharta in Ammunition Requires a Synergised Approach from all Stakeholders: Army Chief

Indian Army

New Delhi: General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Indian Army staff addressing a special session of the second conference on Military Ammunition ‘Ammo India 2022’ on July 28 said, “Our external dependence on armaments and ammunitions have been a matter of concern and the reversing of this trend which we are witnessing is quite encouraging.”

The Army Chief emphasised on the need for self-reliance and sufficiency in critical defence requirements. He said that a budget of 9,000 crore has already been given to Indian Defence industries for ammunitions.

“Our forces need a large quantity of ammunition as we are one of the largest armies with live borders, for which four of the categories are under trial and 9,000 crore of the budget has already been given to the Indian Defence industries for ammunitions. Although, there are challenges that need to be addressed and processes that need to be simplified,” he said.

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Further highlighting the potential for domestic and foreign players in the Indian defence production, he stated, “Atmanirbharta does not mean isolating from the world, but it is self-sustaining and self-generating capability to promote efficiency, quality and resilience.”

Referring to the situation on the Northern borders, he said that it has taught us to be self-reliant. “It has been unequivocally stated that collaboration with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) is intrinsic to Atmanirbhar Bharat and we have moved from a relationship of buyer-seller to a co-development and co-production with our foreign partners,” he noted.

“I believe these offer the foundation to build new capabilities by sharing this expertise with the private sector, including the startups and the MSMEs. Much work is underway in this direction. And I think there is more scope for greater synergy and handholding,” he stated. This would lead to evolving a more cooperative and collaborative framework involving all the stakeholders, which will reduce the dependence on import of ammunitions and provide the required impetus to indigenous production, he noted.

Speaking on the ongoing world affairs, he mentioned that external dependence on other countries for weapons should be reversed. “Russia-Ukraine conflict, the uncertainty in our neighbourhood has taught us that our armed forces should be able to handle the wide spectrum of tasks,” he said.

The futuristic approach in defence production is important for strengthening the national interest. Research and Development and technological advancements are also important for strong self-reliant capabilities, and the capabilities to forecast the impact using Artificial Intelligence is also important, he further emphasised.

He termed the ongoing reforms in the defence sector as an ‘opportunity’ for the foreign OEMs to partner with Indian companies and work for shared objectives. There is a huge potential for exports which can also contribute to the Prime Minister’s vision of a $5 trillion economy.

“Therefore, the vision of achieving Atmanirbharta in ammunition requires a synergised approach from all stakeholders. Together with the need to turn the initiative into another success story and a win-win situation for all,” he said.

Self-reliance is among the key factors for the military capability of any nation, he said that a holistic, all-encompassing, well-calibrated, multi-pronged and futuristic approach in defence production is fundamental to ensure safeguarding the national interest. Atmanirbharta in defence production doesn’t mean limited to production but it should also encompass evolving home grown capabilities and technologies.

While mentioning that a significant investment was also needed in establishing Research and Development infrastructure, testing and evaluation capabilities to meet our ammunition needs, he asserted that for a holistic and self-reliant strategy, it is imperative that ammunition life cycle management capabilities are concurrently established. He further stated that a pragmatic and actionable indigenous defence production strategy is needed to ensure a secure and sustained supply of ammunition and armaments as per our national security needs.