The Army has decided to fast- track procurement of UAVs, infantry combat vehicles and other military platforms for use by its troops in UN peacekeeping missions after the global body expressed unhappiness over poor quality of equipment used by the Indian soldiers. A report by the UN pointed out poor maintenance and serviceability of equipment and platforms used by the Indian troops and held back a reimbursement amount of Rs 338 crore, official sources said. Following the report, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt General Sarath Chand has been given full financial powers to procure the required equipment and platforms so that they can be given to Indian troops serving in various conflict-ridden places including in Congo and South Sudan.
Currently, more than 7,600 military personnel from India are part of the UN peace operations in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Middle East, South Sudan, Sudan and the Western Sahara. The troop-contributing countries have to provide weapons as well as other required military platforms and equipment to their forces in the locations identified for deployment as “wet lease” while the world body provides weapons and other required equipment in “dry lease” areas.
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The UN reimburses the troops contributing countries as per categories of deployment. The UN report said money was being paid to India for equipment and hardware which were in poor condition and recommended cutting the payment. Sources said a total of 58 cases of procurement, which will cost around Rs 120 crore, have already been processed while supply order for 11 items have been placed.
The Army is also procuring new kits for the troops which will cost it around Rs 103 crore annually. The UN pays around Rs 1,000 crore to India for its contribution to the peacekeeping missions. A senior official involved in the procurement of new equipment for the troops said the Army is working towards a system which will allow procurement of required military hardware at the place of deployment of the personnel.
“It will make the system more responsive,” he said. India is the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the past six decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions So far, about 168 Indian troops have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty under the UN Flag.