M A I N   N E W S

Army chief for humane touch to anti-terror drive
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 1
The new Chief of Army Staff General Joginder Jaswant Singh today said that bringing “humane touch” to the anti-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East will be among his top priorities.

Talking to the media after the ceremonial guard of honour on his first day in office at the South Block here, he said the Army had been directed to carry out anti-militancy operations with a more “humane” touch. He emphasised on the need for reaching out to the people in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East.

General Singh said he no longer wanted reports like “Army kills 10” appearing in newspapers. “These kills are our misguided youth, not our enemy. No longer will we have such reports coming out from the Army,” he said while pointing out that the Army units have been directed to use minimum force while carrying out anti-militancy operations to avoid innocents being hit.

He said he would invite feedback from local people about how the Army unit in the area is behaving and in future, unit citations would also depend on this feedback.

Asserting that ceasefire along the volatile Line of Control with Pakistan was holding and the two armies observing restraint, General Singh said any fresh withdrawal of troops in Jammu and Kashmir would be carried out after a review of the situation once the snow starts melting on the high Himalayan ranges and ascertaining the “intentions across.”

General Singh said his task would be to reach out to the people in Jammu and Kashmir by winning their hearts and minds.

He said when he was heading the anti-terrorist operations, he would make it a point to talk to the local people, hear their concerns and also spell out the Army’s concerns and fears. He said that such measures are invaluable in weaning away people from terrorism.

Outlining his priorities he said that operational readiness of the Army would be made more reactive and his efforts would be to speed up the transformation of the Army into a hi-tech force, which used satellites and information technology to be in command of battlefields.

The 22nd Chief of Army Staff would have two years and ten months as his tenure at the office.

Commissioned into the 9th Maratha Light Infantry in August 1964, he is not only the first Sikh officer but also the first from the MLI to wear four stars on his collar. This is somewhat ironic as the Sikhs comprise the largest ethnic group in the Army and the MLI is one of the older regiments of the force.

“J J”, as the new Army chief is called in the Army, said the time had come for carrying out restructuring in the force to make it “more leaner and meaner” but he said this would depend on the progress of peace movement in Jammu and Kashmir and North East.

Among his other priorities, the new Army chief listed that henceforth there would be a high state of training for formations in peacetime cantonments to make them ready for future low intensity role as well as for high technology battlefields.

“We have to give impetus to transition of the Army into 21st century futuristic battlefield force and this would include carrying out mechanisation of logistics and bringing in rapid use of information technology,” he said.

Labelling the IT warfare as being detrimental in any future warfare, he said the Army had recently made moves to make formations familiar with this technology.

General Singh said as part of new modernisation measures, his focus would be on bringing a satellite beaming image to field formations to use it as a force multiplier in a battle.

While informing that a new armed forces joint doctrine was on the anvil, he said the recently released new Army war doctrine would be refined and battle tactics and war manoeuvres practised on the ground.

Replying to a volley of questions on the recent spurt of indiscipline in the force, the new Army chief maintained that for such a huge force these were “miniscule”.

“We do not condone such mistakes. Prompt and stern disciplinary action follows any complaint,” he said, adding that in addition an introspection was also being carried out.

“There is a drive to analyse these cases. There is no cover up. We are taking the bull by the horn,” he said.

On the continuing problem of shortage of officers, he said the armed forces academies were facing no shortage of volunteers but efforts were on not to dilute parameters. He, however, asserted that in time of emergency or conflict, there would be no shortage of officers in combat units as officers from other branches would be enrolled for combat command duties.




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