Thursday, January 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No cut in forces along border: Vij
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 15
The Chief of Army Staff, Gen N.C. Vij, today ruled out the possibility of India reducing its force strength along the border in Jammu and Kashmir while asserting that there was let-up in infiltration from across the border.

Speaking to newspersons after taking the salute at an impressive Army Day parade here the Army chief said rather than reducing the force strength, the posture of the forces along the border would be reinforced.

As the Army bared its firepower by displaying its newly acquired frontline T-90 tanks and surface-to-surface Prithvi missile, General Vij said with no let-up in the infiltration, the Army had now put in place a surveillance equipment all along the Northern Command formations. This he said would make it harder for terrorists and mercenaries to cross the LoC.

The Chief of the Army Staff said during the recent year-long deployment, Operation Parakram, the Army had found its newly acquired heavy equipment and force multipliers battleworthy.

On the T-9O tanks of which five armoured regiments had already been raised, the Army chief said the Army’s new main battle tank was versatile, with good mobility and firepower and would provide India a good battleground edge.

The new tanks had the capability of firing laser surface-to-surface weapons and surface-to-air to shoot down helicopter gunships.

The Army chief said with the induction of the T-90 tanks, the Army would go ahead with user trials and limited induction of the indigenous main battle tank, Arjun.

General Vij said the country was also in the process of upgrading its existing T-72 tanks and the BMP-II series of armoured personnel carriers giving them night vision capability. He also said tank mounted 155MM project was in the process of clearance.

He said the Army would provide assistance to the Jammu and Kashmir Government and Centre in establishing peace in the state.

At the same time, he told the troops that people of Jammu and Kashmir were “our brethren and we must work with all sincerity towards improving the environment”.

General Vij, who had just returned from a tour of Jammu and Kashmir, said the morale of the forces was high at Siachen as well as along the LoC.

He said it was the training, vigilance and professionalism that prepared the Army for the challenges. “Our soldiers with their sacrifices have added a glorious chapter in the history of our country,” he said.

Pointing out that this year would be important for the Army, he listed his priorities which included consolidation of gains from Operation Parakram, modernisation of the Army, filling the shortage in officers and welfare of the troops and ex-servicemen.

The Army chief presented 15 Sena Medals for gallantry, five of them posthumously, all for daring feat against Pakistani mercenaries and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-East.

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