Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told his military commanders that he saw a "rare" possibility of a full scale war but asked them to be ready for "invisible" enemy and challenges which will be "less predictable" in a changing world.
In his first interaction collectively with top commanders of the three defence services, he emphasized that an atmosphere of peace and security was essential to enable India to achieve its goals of economic development and that his government has focused on creating a favourable external environment and on strengthening India`s security.
Outlining his strategic vision, he observed that in addition to the familiar challenges, India has to be prepared for a changing world, which demanded new thinking on our part with regard to economic, diplomatic and security policies.
"Full scale wars may become rare, but force will remain an instrument of deterrence and influencing behaviour, and the duration of conflicts will be shorter," he said.
His observation came against the backdrop of recent escalation of cross-border firing and shelling by Pakistan on the Line of Control and International Border as well as Chinese incursions in Ladakh.
"Beyond the immediate, we are facing a future where security challenges will be less predictable; situations will evolve and change swiftly; and, technological changes will make responses more difficult to keep pace with," Modi said, adding, "The threats may be known, but the enemy may be invisible."
He underlined that domination of cyber space will become increasingly important and control of space may become as critical as that of land, air and sea.
Feeling the need for transforming India's defence forces, he assured them of his commitment to provide adequate resources to ensure full defence preparedness, overcome shortages and meet modernization needs.
"We should remember that what matters is capability of the force," he said.
The prime minister said the world was looking at India with renewed interest, confidence and excitement and there was a universal current of expectation from India to emerge not only as one of the poles of the global economy, but also as one of the "anchors of regional and global security".
He asked the defence establishment, including the armed forces, to reform procurement processes as also suggest corrective measures to avoid delays in domestic development and production of defence equipment.
The armed forces were asked by Modi to focus on efficiency and economy in the use of resources and our military assets, including by greater integration and sharing of resources among the services and draw up long term acquisition plans keeping in view availability of resources, future operational requirements and technology trends.
"When we speak of digital India, we would also like to see a digital armed force," he said and asked the services to give serious thought to upgrade technological skills for effective projection of power by men.
Observing that transforming of defence forces is most important, he called for increased unity and urged the three wings of the services to work as a team all the way from the lowest levels to the top. He suggested a number of practical steps to achieve that goal.
He also suggested that the commanders’ conferences should be organised alternately on sea, in forward army camps and at air bases, and not just in Delhi.
The prime minister also assured the commanders that he would continue the practice that he had started of meeting the three chiefs at least once a month.
Outlining his vision of expanding domestic defence industrial base, he stressed the important role that the services, as users, can play in this, both by committing to targets for domestic procurement and participating in innovation and improvements in domestically produced equipment.
He also mentioned that he attached the highest priority to the welfare of armed forces personnel, both during and after their service careers.
Modi assured the commanders that he would do everything to fulfill the promises made on the One-Rank One-Pension, improving service conditions, and creating better safety nets and opportunities for services after retirement.
He said India’s armed forces, which represent the world’s largest democracy, were second to none in professionalism, valour, commitment, service and duty.
The armed forces have always vindicated the faith and confidence that people of India placed in them, whether it is for our nation’s security or for relief in times of natural calamities, he said.
Modi thanked the armed forces for their extraordinary service to the people during the floods in Jammu and Kashmir and the cyclone on the East Coast.
He paid tribute to the tradition and training that inculcated the highest ideals and professional capabilities in our armed forces. The nations trust was the biggest strength of our armed forces, he said.