New Delhi: Indigenisation and self-reliance in defence, and challenges in the sphere of cyber space and unmanned systems will be key focus areas at the Combined Commanders’ Conference beginning Thursday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the top commanders of the three defence forces at the tri-services event, which will be held at Kevadia in Gujarat between 4 and 6 March.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and senior Ministry of Defence officials will also be present at the event. Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat will participate in the event for the first time after he took over as India’s first CDS in 2020.

The last Combined Commanders’ Conference was held in Jodhpur in 2018.

The event will also see participation of Junior Commissioned Officers and Jawans from the Army and their equivalents in the other two services, for the first time, in specific sessions on HR issues pertaining to the military.

Apart from discussions on the operational readiness of the armed forces in the backdrop of the stand-off with China and continuing disengagement at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), self-reliance in defence will be among the key focus areas at the conference, defence sources said.

“The defence purchase policies which came through recently, prioritising indigenous procurements, will be discussed. There would also be talks on the quality aspects of defence PSUs and the Ordnance Factory Board,” said a source.

Last year, the Defence Acquisition Procedure, 2020, was unveiled, which prioritises capital acquisitions from domestic players over foreign ones.

The defence ministry last month earmarked around 64 per cent of its modernisation funds under the capital acquisition budget for 2021-22 — a sum of over Rs 70,000 crore — for purchases from the domestic sector.

Other Subjects To Be Discussed

At the event, there would also be discussions on the dynamics of future warfare, underlining the emerging technologies in different spheres and the creation of joint theatre commands such as the Air Defence Command and the Maritime Theatre Command. These commands are expected to be raised in the next few months.

According to an ANI report, PM Modi is also expected to be briefed on the restructuring of the Army formations in view of the recent Chinese aggression in the Ladakh sector.

The Army is planning to repurpose one of its existing strike corps as the Mountain Strike Corps.

Facilitating innovation in armed forces will also be discussed during one of the sessions at the event, said the source quoted above.

“A presentation by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) chief is also on cards on the futuristic and indigenous systems which are in the pipeline for the organisation,” the source said, adding an innovation and start-up display will also be organised.

During the last Combined Commanders’ Conference, the government had cleared the creation of the Defence Cyber Agency and Defence Space Agency along with their research components.