COVID-19 | Armed Forces ready to pitch in to maintain essential services if required, Commanders tell Defence Minister

The Union Minister for Defence, Shri Rajnath Singh reviewing the operational preparedness and measures undertaken to fight COVID-19 with the various Commanders in Chief via video conference, in New Delhi on April 24, 2020. The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, the Defence Secretary, Dr. Ajay Kumar and the Secretary (Defence Finance) Smt. Gargi Kaul are also seen.

Commanders-in-chief of Indian Armed Forces today–in a virtual meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh–expressed “readiness to pitch in to maintain essential services locally if requested by the civilian administration” during the fight against Covid-19.

This comes at a time when it is being discussed that armed forces could be utilised help out civil administrations in dealing with the pandemic. India’s Armed Forces have been at the forefront during several disaster situations and have played critical roles in providing rescue and relief to affected people.

“The Commanders have apprised that isolation and quarantine facilities have been set up for use of the Forces as well as the local civilian administration. They have also expressed readiness to pitch in to maintain essential services locally if requested by the civilian administration,” the Defence Ministry said today.

The message was conveyed during a Raksha Mantri’s video-conference with Commanders-in-Chief which was attended by Chief of Defence Staff and Secretary Department of Military Affairs General Bipin Rawat and three Service Chiefs among others.

Singh also asked the Armed Forces to ensure “operational preparedness” while battling Covid-19 so that any “adversary” doesn’t get an opportunity to “exploit the current situation”. Sounding a cautionary note vis-à-vis financial resources, Singh directed the Armed Forces “avoid wastage” in wake of the “economic burden” imposed by pandemic.

Underlining the need for “jointness of the Armed Forces”, Singh asked the Commanders-in-Chief to identify and prioritise tasks that could be accomplished quickly and assist in revival of the economy after the lockdown is lifted.

The Commanders-in-Chief apprised the Raksha Mantri of various measures put in place by them to prevent virus infection among the Forces and assistance extended to the local civilian administration.

The Commanders appreciated recent devolution of emergency financial powers by the Defence Ministry saying the move has ensured timely procurement of necessary medical supplies, to bolster the health infrastructure of the hospitals.

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