The year 2019 was marked by some remarkable achievements for the defence establishment even though the situation across the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) remained tense due to repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan. But skirmishes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China were not allowed to escalate due to mature handling of the relationship by the leaderships of the two countries.
In a landmark decision to bring in reforms in higher defence management in the country, the government approved the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the rank of a four-star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief. Former Army chief, Gen Bipin Rawat, who has been named as the country’s first CDS, will also head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), to be created within the Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the National War Memorial at a solemn ceremonial function on 25 February 2019 near India Gate in the national capital. The memorial has been erected in memory of those soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation after India became Independent in 1947.
In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours of 26 February, India struck one of the biggest JeM terrorist training camp at Balakot in Pakistan. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for suicide attacks were eliminated. This was in response to the 14 February suicide terror attack, conducted by a JeM suicide bomber on a CRPF convoy at Pulwama in which 40 jawans were killed.
It was a red-letter day in the history of the Indian Air Force when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh participated in the Rafale fighter aircraft handing over ceremony at Merignac in France in October. The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft is expected to strengthen the IAF stronger and give a boost to its air dominance to ensure peace and security in the region.
The minister handed over Medium-Range Surface-to-Air-Missile to the IAF at the Bharat Dynamics Limited premises in Hyderabad on 3 August on the occasion of Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Defence PSU. On 18 June, he announced the restoration of the ‘ration in kind’ for the officers of the three Armed Forces posted in peace areas. He also gave in-principle approval to the four-times enhancement of monetary assistance to next of kin of all categories of battle casualty from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 8 lakh.
The government also approved the extension of retention of government accommodation by battle casualties for a period of one year instead of three months.
The government decided to honour the contribution of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by naming the strategic tunnel under Rohtang Pass after him on 25 December, on the occasion of his birthday.
Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Varaha’ was commissioned in Chennai on 25 September to further strengthen coastal security. To boost defence manufacturing under ‘Make in India’, the government approved to allowing the private sector industry to compete with Ordnance Factories and DPSUs for the prestigious Raksha Mantri’s Awards for Excellence.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) constructed about 60,000 km of roads, 19 airfields and two tunnels in difficult and remote area of the country. As part of its contribution of strengthening bonds of friendship with neighbouring countries, the BRO also developed road infrastructure in some friendly countries in the neighbourhood.