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The IAF's mighty Iron Fist

punjab Updated: Apr 21, 2013 09:23 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa

The IAF showcased its operational capabilities at the fire power demonstration, Exercise Iron Fist at Pokaran Range on February 22. The display was a demonstration of the of air power by India's frontline combat aircraft like Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, Jaguar, MiG-21, MiG-27, MiG-29 and Hawk . Transport aircraft taking part included C130J, AN-32, Embraer and IL-76, while Mi-8, Mi-17 1V, the newly-inducted Mi-17 V5 and Mi-35 attack helicopters showed off rotary power. The Sarang helicopter display team and low-level aerobatics by Su-30s added attraction to the event.

Also shown, for the first time, were Surface-to-Air Missile Systems like the shoulder-fired Igla, the vehicle-mounted and mobile Osa-AK-M and the longer range Pechora. The exercise included display of the latest acquisition, the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II basic trainer aircraft and Bambi Bucket operations by Mi-17 V5 helicopter.

The events intended to display various aspects of fire power like air defence operations, counter-surface force operations, urban warfare, combat search and rescue, assault approach and landing, combat offloading and short take off by the American C-130 J transport aircraft at the landing strip prepared at the Range.

Kayani's ultimate goal

It's not as if General Parvez Musharraf has suddenly become unpopular among the Pakistani military leading to their seeming indifference to his arrest, detention and perceived humiliation. General Kayani, the military's boss, is fully focused on attaining the ultimate prize of Afghanistan after the US withdrawal in 2014 and understands that he has to remain in the army chief's chair at least in the medium term. Therefore, he will not rock the political boat at any cost. If that involves tacitly helping the politicians in their manoeuvres so be it.

Kayani and the Pakistani armed forces will go to any lengths to realise their long-held dream of strategic depth and being able to control access to Central Asia's natural resources. Our strategic thinkers within and outside the military must fully realise and understand this.

Indian naval expansion

The Indian Navy plans to expand to a fleet of 150 ships in the next 10 to 15 years, with 50 warships now under construction and 100 new vessels in the acquisition pipeline. Our admirals are also engaged in setting up operational turnaround bases, forward-operating bases and naval air enclaves with a view to enhance India's surveillance efforts in the Indian Ocean region.

Plans for accretions to the naval aviation fleet are likewise progressing smoothly. Boeing 737 P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft have begun to be inducted and five additional Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters are being added to the existing fleet of 11 helicopters. Further, the navy's amphibious landing capability has been enhanced considerably by the acquisition of the INS Jalashwa (ex-USS Trenton) and other landing ships, and additional capabilities for amphibious warfare are being rapidly developed.

As a result of these efforts, the Indian Navy is on the cusp of acquiring the capabilities necessary to join key strategic partners such as the US Navy in safeguarding the sea lanes of communication in the northern Indian Ocean and ensuring unfettered freedom of the seas for trade and commerce.

Army organises veterans' seminar

A meeting of veterans was organised on April 17at the Maneckshaw Centre in Delhi Cantt by the newly created Veterans' Welfare Cell at Army HQ. Some 150 veterans attended it. The cell is headed by a retired Brigadier and will act as a single-point contact for all the veterans' problems. Plans are afoot to give it a toll-free telephone number manned round-the-clock that can be contacted by any ex-serviceman. The army chief, all his principal staff officers and army commanders were informed of the problems being faced by veterans after retirement/release.

Certainly a most impressive start for such a laudable venture. What is noteworthy is that ex-servicemen's problems receive a much better hearing, prompt action and redressal at the hands of their comrades in uniform than from civilians deputed for the purpose. Ideally, the future of veterans at the level of the government and secretariat, both at the Centre and in the states, should be entrusted to other veterans or serving officers.

The only Indian VC between the World Wars

Ishar Singh of 28th Punjabis (later 4/15 Punjab and now 12 Punjab in the Pakistan Army) was the only Indian Victoria Cross winner in the period between the two World Wars. From Nenwan, Hoshiarpur district, the conspicuous gallantry shown by him on April 10, 1921 at Haideri Kach in Waziristan in operations against the Mahsud tribe made him the first Sikh winner of the then British Empire's highest gallantry award.

Later, two other Sikhs from his battalion, Lieutenant Karamjit Singh Judge and Naik Gian Singh were to win the VC also during the Burma Campaign of World War 2. His battalion having gone to Pakistan at the Partition, he transferred to the Sikh Regiment, ultimately dying on December 2, 1963.