Defence Acquisition Institute: A Viewpoint

Major General (Retd.) Mrinal Suman retired from the Indian Army in 2003 and currently heads the Defence Technical Assessment and Adivsory Service of Confederation of Indian Industry.
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  • April 2012

    While delivering the keynote address at the International Seminar on Defence Acquisitions on July 12, 2011, Defence Minister A.K. Antony accepted the need to impart training to the defence acquisition functionaries. Further, he agreed that a dedicated institute needs to be set up for the purpose. It is the first time that the training of acquisition staff has received the attention that it deserves as reforms in India’s defence acquisition regime have so far been limited to procedures only. Overlooking the fact that any mechanism is as good as the people who operate it, professional competence of the personnel implementing the procedures was given little importance. The lack of a core of well-qualified and adequately-trained acquisition staff became the weakest link of the acquisition chain and this deficiency was first highlighted in an article that appeared in 2005 in Indian Defence Review.

    Subsequently, even the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) noted the fact that system of acquisitions being handled by unspecialized personnel posted for three year tenures was simply not adequate. It emphasized that “defence acquisition is a cross-disciplinary activity requiring expertise in technology, military, finance, quality assurance, market research, contract management, project management, administration and policy making” However this aspect continues to remain totally neglected to date. It has generally been accepted the world over that an efficient acquisition workforce cannot only expedite procurements but also affect a saving of up to 15 per cent of the capital expenditure in initial purchase price and associated life cycle costs. Therefore, the Defence Minister’s recognition of the need to impart required skills to defence functionaries is a long awaited and welcome development.

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