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PM to address conference of top military leadership; jawans to participate for first time

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a conference of the county's top military leadership in Gujarat's Kevadia on Saturday, which will also see the participation of jawans and junior commissioned officers (JCOs) for the first time, according to an official statement on Thursday.

The Combined Commanders' Conference, a premier brainstorming event of the military officials, is taking place after three years in Kevadia from Thursday to Saturday, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) said in a statement.

It said that in a major departure from the past, the scope of this year's conference has been expanded to make it a "multi-layered, interactive, informal and informed event with the added participation of about 30 officers and soldiers of various ranks from the three services."

Jawans and JCOs will be attending specific sessions related to human resource issues during the conference.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the military commanders, and a team of secretary-level officers from the Ministry of Defence will join deliberations from Friday onward, the DMA noted.

"The valedictory session on the third and final day will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval also in attendance," the DMA mentioned.

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General M M Naravane, Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh will attend the conference.

The DMA said the combined apex level military leadership of the country will review "the security situation and defence preparedness of the armed forces" and deliberate on "pertinent organisational issues for evolving a joint military vision for the future" during the conference.

Since 2014, this conference has been taking place in different locations of the country other than Delhi.

The conference was held on board INS Vikramaditya in 2015 and at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun in 2017.

The last edition of the conference was held in 2018 over a period of two days at the Air Force Station in Jodhpur.

The top military meet is taking place in Kevadia at a time when India and China are engaged in talks on disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh.

A border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 last year following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry even as military and diplomatic-level talks continued between the two neighbours.

Last month, armies of the two countries had concluded withdrawal of troops and weapons from north and south banks of Pangong Tso in the high-altitude region.

At the subsequent 10th round of the senior commanders' meeting, India is learnt to have insisted on a faster disengagement process in areas such as Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang to defuse tension in the region.

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