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Be prepared for operations at very short notice: IAF chief’s letter to officers

The IAF chief’s missive to his officers comes amid heightened tensions with Pakistan and occasional verbal exchanges with China, mainly over cross-border terrorism and spike in militancy in Kashmir.

india Updated: May 20, 2017 21:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
IAF chief,BS Dhanoa,Indian Air Force
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force at the Agra Air Force Station.(File Photo )

The Indian Air Force chief has asked his officers to be prepared for operations at short notice and “with our present holdings”, sending out rare individual letters to 12,000-odd personnel of the country’s air defence wing.

The letter by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, the chief of air staff, was signed on March 30, an IAF source told Hindustan Times.

The missive comes amid heightened tensions with Pakistan and occasional verbal exchanges with China, mainly over cross-border terrorism and spike in militancy in Kashmir.

“In the present scenario, there is an ever persistent sub-conventional threat. Therefore, we need to be prepared for operations with our present holdings, at a very short notice. Training needs to be focused towards this,” media reports quoted the air chief as saying.

The mention of “sub-conventional threat” in the letter was a reference to Pakistan’s proxy war, “which is reflected in the increasing number of terror attacks on military camps and the rising public unrest in Jammu and Kashmir”.

“Our present holdings” was a reference to a shortfall in the number of fighter squadrons with the IAF, the reports added.

The IAF’s squadron of fighter aircraft is down to 33 from the sanctioned strength of 42. A squadron usually consists of 16 to 18 aircrafts.

The air force is hoping to strengthen its combat units with the induction of the Tejas light combat aircraft, more Sukhoi-30s, Rafale warplanes, Indo-Russian fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and possibly a medium-weight fighter that could be built in India in collaboration with a foreign player.

The air chief also asked officers to be “combat effective professionals” and added that “there is no choice but to stay abreast of new technological advancements both own as well as that of our adversaries. Only then will we come out with war-winning, out of the box solutions.”

The letter covered a range of issues from “favouritism” in the force to “sexual harassment”.

The letter reminds officers that “in the recent past, there have been instances and occasions where lack of professionalism has shown the IAF in poor light”.

Indulging in uncharacteristic plain speak, the IAF chief said, “we have been witness to a few instances of ‘favouritism’ in selection of officers for prime assignments and promotions”.

“This is something we can ill afford,” the report added.

The air chief said “officers holding responsible appointments tend to display ‘Milk of Human Kindness’ while dealing with those involved in wrongful practices” and warned that “abusive behaviour, resorting to physical intimidation and behaviour amounting to sexual harassment by seniors is not acceptable”.

It is the first time an IAF chief has written personal letter to officers. However, two army chiefs -- Field Marshal (then General) KM Cariappa and General K Sundarji -- had penned similar missives earlier.

First Published: May 20, 2017 17:44 IST