|By Shweta Sehgal||January 2017|
NEW DELHI. India celebrated the 69th Army Day with inspiring parades and ceremonies, beginning with the new Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat paying tributes at Amar Jawan Jyoti, the eternal flame memorial, to fallen heroes of India.
Chiefs of Staff of the Navy and Air Force, Admiral Sunil Lamba and Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa joined in the ceremony to honour the heroes from the three Services on this solemn occasion.
At the impressive Army Day Parade held in the Delhi Cantt, General Rawat took the salute from the marching columns of troops from various regiments of the Infantry, Armoured, Mechanised Forces, Signals, Air Defence and others. Interspersed by military bands playing martial tunes, the troops displayed precision and great discipline even in march pasts, indicative of their cohesion and integration to act together in times of crises.
Addressing Army personnel, and a couple of days earlier the Army Chief’s annual press conference, General Rawat said that India wanted peace and appropriately, a message had been conveyed to the adversary (Pakistan) to accept peace and tranquility. “Our aim is to ensure peace and security,” he added, pointing out: “We need to wait and watch the Pakistan response in Jammu and Kashmir, in case they act wrongly, we reserve the right to retaliate.”
India is a secular country, and “we have a task to ensure the territorial integrity” of the country. Peace is important and “we are ready to go the extra mile.”
Asserting that the Army will not hesitate to apply power if attacked, General Rawat said that nobody can be allowed to disrupt the secular fabric of the country. There are indeed challenges on the borders, proxy wars and terrorism included.
Peace is the fundamental requirement for everyone, and the people of Jammu & Kashmir deserve peace as much as the people anywhere else. There is so much beauty in Kashmir and it should be allowed to become the heaven on earth, with peace and without terrorism. “We are willing to walk the extra mile to ensure the safety of people and their property.”
It may be noted that the Directors General, Military Operations of the Indian and Pakistani armies talk periodically to each other, and after a telephonic chat on November 23, there had been relative peace along the Line of Control (LoC).
About the modernisation of the Army, the Chief said that there was a technological revolution the world over, and the Indian Army is also doing its best to get the best weapon systems. “We have the right people” and the efforts now are to interact with the Indian industry so that we can develop and source the requirements indigenously.
The Army now has a directorate to interact with the industry, suggesting what it needs and what can the industry do by developing itself (through collaborations with foreign manufacturers as required).
From rifles and protective gear, air defence systems, artillery, Future Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICVs), Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) or armoured vehicles, every item is being considered in the modernisation perspective to strengthen the Army. The emphasis is on weapon systems with less weight, better range and accuracy and lethality of firepower.
He praised the officers and soldiers of the Army, who operate in the most inhospitable conditions with resolve and pride as well as veterans, for their commitment and bravery and said that their welfare was uppermost in his mind.
India celebrates 15th January as the Army Day to commemorate the day when General (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa took over the command of Army from General Sir FRR Bucher, the last British Commander-in-Chief in 1949 and became the first Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army post Independence.
The highlights of the parade, commanded by Maj Gen Rajesh Sahai, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area, was the leading contingent of recipients of the Param Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra Awardees and International Sports Awardees.
Then there were contingents which included T-90 Tank BHISHMA, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP II, BrahMos Missile System, Weapon Locating Radar (SWATHI), Akash Missile System, CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear) Reconnaissance Vehicle, Mobile transportable satellite terminal vehicle and seven marching contingents including mounted horse cavalry.
The Veterans Tableaux depicted their contributions towards the nation. A motorcycle display by “SHWET ASHW” team of the Army Corps of Military Police was a big attraction along with a Paramotors display by the 50 (I) Para Brigade.
The grand finale was a combat demonstration, which showcased combat techniques of the Army sub units. Combat actions included strafing runs depicted by an armed helicopter, combat manoeuvres by tracked combat vehicles and special operations including air insertion and extrication of soldiers behind enemy lines.