Tuesday, December 31, 2002, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

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We were ready for war: Gen
Army Chief Padmanabhan retires today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 30
The outgoing Chief of the Army Staff, General S. Padmanabhan, today clarified that it was not Pakistan’s nuclear capability which had deterred India from going across the border but no decision on the part of the political leadership had held the troops back.

“We were absolutely ready to go to war. Our forces were well located” he said while speaking to the media on the sidelines of a function adding that “such a decision (whether to go to war) is ultimately a political decision”.

Ruling out that Islamabad’s claiming possession of tactical nuclear weapons had deterred New Delhi, General Padmanabhan who retires tomorrow said: “When we assess our adversaries, we assess all its capabilities we had evaluated it and were ready to cope with it”.

On when India would have a formal nuclear and strategic command to control the country’s nuclear and missile forces, he said: “These things certainly are not in public domain. We may have an informal structure already and which in time could acquire a formal status”.

General Padmanabhan said ‘Operation Parakram’ had proved a boon for the armed forces in upgrading training along with equipment availability. He said with the procurement board in place, the modernisation drive in the armed forces had achieved a certain degree of momentum.

On Kashmir, the outgoing Chief said with better detection measures and new weaponry being deployed, the coming months would prove tough for the militants.

Asserting that militarily the situation in the state was good contrary to what the media was depicting, General Padmanabhan said: “It was due to their low morale that militants were hitting soft targets and indulging in barbaric acts like slaying of women and children”.

“We have been able to choke their money and arms supplies” he said adding that the Army interception ratio on the Line of Control as well as the international border had gone up considerably. Even the captures and surrenders in the rest of the valley was also showing increase, he added.

Declaring that the goal was for the preservation of peace on the borders, General Padmanabhan said the role of the armed forces was tuned to making it very hot for adversaries to violate India’s borders and peace within.

Earlier, bidding a formal farewell to the top brass of the forces, the Defence Ministry and intelligence brass, the outgoing Army Chief said the institution of the Chairman Chief of Staff Committee, which had served the country in previous wars, was functioning well having evolved certain methodology over the years in cementing inter-services cooperation.

Asked whether the government had cold shouldered the proposal for setting up of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Padmanabhan said till the Government took a final decision on it, efforts had to be geared up to make the institution of COSC more effective.

On the setting up of Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (CIDS), which is directly under the COSC, General Padmanabhan said operational and staff requirement of the system had been developed adding that “though a lot has to be done”.

He said the setting up of the country’s first ever tri-service command at Andaman and Nicobar islands was working well with geographical areas of the command and elements worked out.

Asserting that the new command was now entirely battleworthy, Gen Padmanabhan said in years to come it would grow to be one of the country’s premier command due to the lion.

On the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), he said it was not modelled on the lines of other intelligence outfits and had been raised for a specific purpose to spread its tentacles across the globe, specially in area of country’s vital interests.

Gen Padmanabhan said the COSC had completed the draft of the armed forces 10th plan which had now been submitted to the government. He said it was the COSC which had done the planning of strategy for the Operation Parakram working out coordination at the very command level.
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