India sets up special cell to protect space assets

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (UNI) The government today announced the formation of an Integrated Space Cell under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Services HQ to counter ''the growing threat to India's space assets.'' Addressing the Unified Commanders' Conference here, Defence Minister A K Antony said although India wants to utilise space for peaceful purposes and remain committed to its policy of non-weaponisation of space. ''Offensive counter space systems like anti-satellite weaponry, new classes of heavy-lift and small boosters and an improved array of Military Space Systems have emerged in our neighbourhood.'' The new Cell will act as a single window for integration among the Armed Forces, the Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The Defence Minister also announced the approval of the government for the setting up of a Defence Informatics Centre on the lines of the National Informatics Centre. It will cater to the e-governance needs of the Armed Forces, the Defence Ministry and other associated organisations.

The Minister also announced the establishment of a Defence Information Technology Consultative Committee (DITCC) comprising eminent personalities from the MoD, the three Services, Ministry of Communication and IT, academia and the industry. DITCC would seek to synergise all information technology related matters in the MoD, the three Services and various organisations. ''DITCC has evolved a road map and a common approach for the integration of information technology in our Armed Forces,'' he explained.

The two-day conference, which began today, is focusing on various issues pertaining to ongoing process of jointness amongst the three Services, Higher Defence Management and a conceptual way forward.

The conference is being attended among others by the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal FH Major, Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor, Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, Chief of Integrated Service Command Lt Gen HS Lidder, commanders and senior officers from the service headquarters and the Ministry of Defence.

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