New Delhi. 24 April 2020. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today reviewed the operational preparedness as well as measures to fight COVID-19 with all the Commanders in Chief through a video conference.

Along with the Minister, Chief of Defence Staff and Secretary Department of Military Affairs General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Secretary (Defence Finance) Gargi Kaul participated in the conference.

Rajnath Singh in his address appreciated the role of the Armed Forces for the assistance extended to the local civilian administration and preparatory measures taken to fight COVID-19. He expected the Forces to ensure their operational preparedness, while they are battling COVID-19 and the adversary should not be allowed to exploit the current situation.

He also directed the Forces to initiate measures to spend the financial resources, avoiding wastage in view of the economic burden imposed by COVID-19. Stressing on the requirement of jointness of the Armed Forces, the Minister 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.

During the conference the Chiefs apprised the Minister of various measures put in place by them to prevent virus infection among the Forces and assistance extended to the local civilian administration. These include issue of Standard Operating Procedures on COVID-19, introduction of appropriate modifications in protocols and drills as per the advisories issued by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and other agencies and taking care of the Ex-Servicemen and their families residing in their respective command areas.

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

The Armed Forces have in a holistic manner taken upon themselves the responsibility of improving the support in dealing with COVID-19, by augmenting additional manpower, by providing them basic training, to deal with the epidemic.

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.

Officers from the following Commands participated in the video Conference: Northern Command, Udhampur; Eastern Command, Kolkata; Southern Naval Command, Kochi; Western Naval Command, Mumbai; Southern Command, Pune; South-Western Command,  Jaipur; Western Air Command, Delhi; Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam; Central Air Command, Allahabad; South-West Air Command, Gandhinagar; Southern Air Command, Trivendrum; Central Command, Lucknow; and  Andaman & Nicobars Command, Port Blair.