05 Mar 15. Saudi Diplomat urges Allies to face IS ‘On the Ground.’ Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Thursday urged the US-led coalition conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq to wage a ground war against the jihadists. The kingdom, part of that coalition, “stresses the need to provide the military means needed to face this challenge on the ground,” Prince Saud al-Faisal said at a news conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Several Arab countries have joined the air campaign against IS. US President Barack Obama, anxious to avoid a drawn-out ground war, has backed an air campaign, but ruled out deploying infantry. (Source: Defense News)
04 Mar 15. Nigerian military plays down impact of Chadian intervention. Nigerian military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade has said the role that Chadian forces are playing in operations against the militant group Boko Haram in the northeast of the country is being exaggerated. Gen Olukolade told reporters on 4 March that “some theorists who are still bent on orchestrating a well-rehearsed smear campaign against the Nigerian military [are] struggling to attribute the recent defeats inflicted on the terrorists to the invincibility of other forces or military outfits other than Nigeria’s”. This is primarily a reference to the Chadian forces that entered Gambaru, a Nigerian town on the border with Cameroon, on 3 February. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Feb 15. India – Budget 2015: Govt. to allocate Rs 2,46,727 crore to defence sector. Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who presented the Union Budget for fiscal 2015-16 in the Lok Sabha said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government would allocate Rs 2,46,727 crore [EUR 35.6bn] in the defence sector. “Defence of each square inch of our motherland comes before anything else. So, far as we have been dependent on imports with attendant to ample spin-offs. Our government is already permitted FDI in defence so that Indian controlled entities also become manufacturers of defence equipment not only for us but for export,” he said. “We are thus pursuing the ‘Make in India’ policy to achieve greater self-sufficiency in the area of defence equipment, including aircraft.
MPI Comment – The budget breakdown shows an increase in allocations to all three services, and for pay and pensions. The Army got the biggest share with 1.07trn rupees, while the Indian Air Force got an increase from 231bn rupees to 243bn rupees. The Navy’s budget rose from 145bn to 161bn rupees. Despite a strong budget allocation, there are serious uncertainties related to procurement allocations and prioritisation. The Indian Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) notes that capital acquisition is under severe pressure due to committed liabilities arising from existing contracts. “Given the already downward revision of the 2014-15 capital acquisition budget, its moderate increase in the 2015-16 budget is unlikely to generate the required money to sign any major new contracts,” said a report by IDSA. Furthermore MPI assesses that international suppliers will continue to be wary of the implications of the “Make in India” campaign. Although there is a commitment from the current government to upgrade the Indian Armed Forces, there is a possibility that programmes with an Indian work share may be prioritized, and some programmes may be re-tendered to include Indian participation. The Indian government have made collaboration with Indian companies more lucrative with the increase in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit to 49% from the previous 29%. (Source: MPI – Hawk Information/Times of India)
04 Mar 15. UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has met key ministers in Saudi Arabia and Oman to discuss regional security and international action to counter ISIL during a tour of the Middle East. In his first meeting with the newly appointed Saudi Defence Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz