Army chief General Deepak Kapoor on Monday ruled out troop withdrawal from the insurgency-hit areas of the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir for now.
“Normalcy has not yet returned to these areas. Troop reduction will happen when the government decides,” Gen Kapoor said shortly after inspecting a guard of honour to mark his taking over as the 23rd chief of the army.
His remarks come a day after his predecessor Gen J.J. Singh said levels of attrition and violence in these areas came down to one-thirds during his tenure. “There are signs of normalcy. Violence and casualties on our side in J&K and the Northeast have been contained to about one-thirds of what they were,” Singh said on Sunday, his last day in uniform.
Gen Kapoor said how the role and size of the army changes in future would depend on conditions within the country and on India’s status as a regional and global force. “Force modernisation remains my number one priority,” he said.
The new army chief said improving the image of the army was among the important tasks he has set for himself. He spoke about the increasing cases of corruption across all ranks. “It is a challenge and in the army we are taught to face challenges,” he said.
The other areas that the army needs to focus on are joint working with the navy and the air force and developing a better culture and ethos, Gen Kapoor said. Of late, the army has been plagued by instances of suicides and fratricide.