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INDIA’S POWER CAN SEE A SEA CHANGE IF IT DOMINATES THE SEAS

If we have to grow as a regional or global power, we must dominate the seas. We can do that by playing the maritime policeman’s role and by denying access to those inimical to us in our seas of interest—Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and part of Indian Ocean which extends from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Straits.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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Views on Indian Strategy: Many feel that India’s Military doctrine is outdated, orthodox and too continentally oriented and neglects the maritime domain. To quote some views. One researcher from Carnegie India feels that The Indian Army’s prevailing doctrine leaves the military with two main choices: do nothing or risk wars it cannot win. The Indian Army needs to rethink its use of force to meet today’s new challenges. Ah ha! Are there any challenges beyond China and Pakistan for India? Another researcher from JNU says India’s obsession with continental strategies has yielded unflattering results — no secure borders or deterrence stability. Therefore, it is high time New Delhi shifted its almost exclusive focus from the continental space to the maritime space, stitching together a maritime grand strategy.  Wow! What is this maritime grand strategy to secure our land borders?  Yet another feels that India’s strategic challenges in the near future will be naval, not continental. Really? The PLA is sitting on our head! He goes on to say that traditionally, the Indian Navy has been the neglected branch of the armed forces. Big words.

Perspectives on Wars and Strategies: Let us put strategy and war fighting in perspective. The strategic and military record of the USA and China are unflattering. Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq are examples of US losses despite being the greatest military on earth. China. Ah China! The superpower aspirants are all set to have the greatest military. Its only notable military victory since 1962, has been sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat in South China Sea.  On the other hand, the orthodox, outdated and poorly equipped Indian Armed Forces, have been on the winning side of all conflicts barring 1962. Pakistan has been defeated through 1947, 1965, 1971 and Kargil at a time and place of its choosing. China has been tapped hard on the beak in 1967, Doklam and Eastern Ladakh. The much flaunted PLA strength is deficit on ground. Chinese multi domain war endeavours have  been countered more than adequately. What more does a country require from its Armed Forces or its polity? Surely it must do something with strategy. Not convinced? Let us discuss further.

Threats India Faces: Every country organises its Armed Forces based on perceived threats. Despite being in an era of multidomain wars, let us recapitulate our threats simplistically. Our land borders of nearly 3500 km with China and over 3000 km with Pakistan are largely disputed and partly occupied illegally. Further, China covets Eastern Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh and Pakistan wants Kashmir. Both are nuclear nations. We have had to defend ourselves repeatedly against their aggression and assertion. They constantly pose individual and collusive threats – conventional and unconventional. These threats come directly and indirectly through other countries and are increasing by the day. Our border areas and states remain/kept unstable. Any weakening on land borders means high likelihood of loss of territorial integrity of the nation and an unacceptable threat to our people. Even a loss of a few km of frigid uninhabited land on Pangong Tso is not acceptable to the nation. Further, the LAC threatens to present us with a LOC situation. How do we ignore that hard reality? Both adversaries possess nuclear arsenals which can target the entire Indian landmass. The strategic threat is buttressed by space based assets. If we did not have a second strike capability, then their first strike is a Damocles  sword over our heads. Asymmetric  threats to India have been multiple, manifold, constant and lethal – cyber-attacks, three warfare strategy, terrorism, digital and info domination, influence ops, cartographic aggression, economic dependency, political subversion and diplomatic hounding. Asymmetry is also built through the ‘String of Pearls’ in our neighbourhood. The air threat is not a stand-alone threat but accompanies a continental, maritime or a strategic threat. The  maritime threat is essentially fourfold. Threat to our mainland, island territories, SLOCs and offshore assets. Of these, our SLOCs can be interfered with to a limited extent and there is some threat to our island territories. Overall the continental land based threat from Pakistan and China is of highest priority  to our national integrity and security.  Hence India must pay more attention to its continental domain. However it does not mean the maritime domain needs to be neglected.

Thoughts on Maritime Domain: If India is to grow as a regional or global power, we must dominate the seas. On that there is no doubt. We can do that by playing the maritime policeman’s role and by denying access to those inimical to us in our seas of interest – Bay of Bengal,  Arabian Sea and part of Indian Ocean which extends from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Straits. If we can do that, we are largely secure. To a large extent we can. In fact beyond that , we are prepared to even defend our assets since 2012 as per our then CNS. The problem arises when we think beyond this. We are then leaving the security of the firm base of the Indian mainland  and the seas we are familiar with to do the ‘Enter the Dragon’ act in the South China Sea. The logic of sticking our neck out into the South China Sea to fight someone else’s battles without adequate resources or a base needs a visit to a psychiatrist. Do not forget that more than half the ASEAN is in China’s pocket and they are very  sensitive to ASEAN centrality. Why would anyone allow us to operate in disputed seas to antagonise China? Even if we did so, what would we achieve with our meagre resources that the USA with its three carrier groups has not been able to achieve? At best we may carry out FONOPs, like the USA does. However, when FONOPs have not deterred China from building and manning islands in the South China Sea, why will it deter China from being aggressive on the LAC? Also, in the present situation,  China has continued to be aggressive across the LAC  despite being engaged in the South China Sea by the USA. In fact it is even planning to attack Taiwan.

Maritime Strategy Outline: So what should our maritime strategy be? India should be the dominant maritime power in its security environment from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Straits. There is no doubt in that. Are we in that league? Partly. However we can definitely do better. Does China threaten us in the IOR?  Not yet. However there is a Sino-Indian competition for dominance of the IOR. China wants to get into the IOR. It  does not have the reach as yet. Despite everything, the bulk of Chinese Navy has not left the South China Sea, East China Sea or Yellow Sea. It has remained within the safety envelope of the Chinese main land. Are the Chinese preparing to enter the IOR. Oh sure.  If they want to be a world power they have to. So we should do something which makes the IOR our fortress. That has two components. One. We  need to get hold of our neighbourhood – Bangladesh, Myanmar, Srilanka, and Maldives. We are slipping there badly.  We need to do more there to deny PLAN from developing bases in these countries. Two. Indian Navy must be enabled to deny the IOR to China or any other adversary when needed. That means capability building. Let us discuss that.

Choices: We have three choices. Increase our surface fleet including a third aircraft carrier. Increase our sub surface fleet. Strengthen our Island territories. In any option, increasing our maritime domain awareness is a given. Any sensible person will opt for a balanced option and I will agree with him. There is a lot of discussion about the third aircraft carrier. As an Indian I would love to have that. However its practicability needs to be thought through. After all it is not a matter of just building a ship but also equipping it. When we do not have enough aircraft for the IAF where will we get them for the third aircraft carrier? I wonder if we can get hold of enough aircraft for even the two aircraft carriers we are shortly going to have. Also,  I wonder if we have fully strengthened our Island territories. Well-developed islands in the IOR can be punitive pivots around which the IN, IAF and IA  can manoeuvre. Further has enough discussion and analysis been carried out to take a call on the right mix between surface and subsurface combatants? I think it needs a joint thought and not a single service thought. The DMA has to pitch in. A national consensus and clarity must emerge with due diligence and thought.

A Continental Thought: There is an old fashioned continental thought of mine for consideration by vastly modern maritime enthusiasts. Our orthodox Army has by now tied down at least four to six PLA divisions with a whole lot of other combat power in Eastern Ladakh. Add other PLA forces which are on alert in the Central and Eastern Sectors. Add Chinese obsession with Taiwan. Add other border requirements. Add requirements to keep the CCP in power. Add the new rubric of QUAD. Suddenly one will find that Chinese force dynamics will change. Factor in the one child policy, conscription, inexperience and untested weapons. My guess is that PLA has been shorted.  Mark my words. Do  an old fashioned  appreciation called ‘Troops to Task’. It will emerge that PLAN has a very long way to go before it becomes expeditionary. A correct joint assessment is on the cards. If the LAC degenerates into a LOC situation, the Chinese apple cart will be fully upset. Whether they like it or not, they will start looking at their own continental vs maritime theories afresh. Unless of course they want to lose Tibet and Xinjiang through asymmetry by sailing into the IOR.

Economic Impact: A major factor in all prescriptions is economic clout. We can think of achieving maritime glory when we have pockets deep enough. When we get to being a 5 Tn USD economy we can start dreaming to look over the horizon. Presently, our condition permits us only to consolidate. Modernisation in contracting budgets will be a difficult option. Force expansion in such conditions is La La land. Very importantly we must maintain balance. Fiscal and Physical. We need to be strong enough to deter China and Pakistan from undertaking any further adventures. That kind of deterrence comes through sustained progress in all five main domains – continental, areal, maritime, strategic and asymmetric. We also need to invest more in our joint ISR capabilities on a national scale. The other way of deterring our adversaries is to get into an alliance or an arrangement like the QUAD to contain China in the Indo Pacific construct. Here exercises like Malabar have great value to develop operational synergy.  Even in this scenario we must take a holistic view. We can never forget that there is an ‘Indo’ part of the Indo Pacific. I have highlighted this amply in my previous article @   https://www.gunnersshot.com/2020/10/quad-evolving-fast-by-lt-gen-p-r.html

Indian Interests and Strategy: At the end of the day we need to cater for Indian interests through Indian strategies in response to Indian threats under Indian conditions obtaining on ground. We have to think through them. Our weakness lies in the inability of our Defence and Security system to work seamlessly, lacking joint structures, inter-ministerial  gaps, inability to equip our armed forces and lack of a strategic political culture. We need to strengthen those within democratic norms without aping autocracies or falling prey to wishful thinking. We need a balanced approach which is best for India.     

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on his blog www.gunnersshot.com.

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Defence

INDIAN NAVY & IDFC FIRST BANK OFFER HONOUR FIRST BANKING SOLUTIONS TO NAVAL PERSONNEL

Ashish Singh

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IDFC FIRST Bank announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Navy to offer Honour First, a premium banking solution, to serving personnel and veterans of the Indian Navy. Honour First is specially designed keeping in mind the needs of the Armed Forces community. It includes a zero balance salary Honour First salary account with unlimited free ATM transactions from any location, free fund transfers through IMPS, RTGS, and NEFT, free lost card liability protection and purchase protection. It has an accident insurance cover of Rs 46 lakh which include a children education grant of Rs. 4 lakh for wards of age up to 23 years and an additional Rs 2 lakh for girl child marriage cover for daughters in the age bracket of 18 years to 25 years. The MoU for Honour First was signed at the Naval Headquarters in New Delhi between Commodore Neeraj Malhotra, Commodore – Pay and Allowances, Indian Navy and Colin D’Souza, Head – Corporate Salary, IDFC First Bank.

Indian Navy is responsible to safeguard the maritime frontiers of the country including the island territories against external aggression as also assist in the safety of the world sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Speaking on the occasion, Amit Kumar, Head-Retail Liabilities & Branch Banking, IDFC First Bank, said, “It’s a proud moment for us. The association couldn’t have come at a better time as the Indian Navy celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the 1971 war. The Honour First solution is customised to the needs of Naval personnel and stands rooted in our customer-first and nation-first approach. We are constantly improving our offerings using state-of-the-art technology for a superior customer experience. It is a privilege for us to now serving the Indian Navy with an array of our convenient banking services, digitised financial solutions and enhanced access.” Malhotra said, “I welcome the initiative of IDFC First bank to offer customised banking solutions to suit the needs of Indian Navy and its personnel.”

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FLEET AWARD CEREMONY OF WESTERN NAVAL COMMAND HELD AT MUMBAI AFTER ONE-YEAR GAP

Ashish Singh

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The Fleet Award Ceremony each year marks the end of the operational cycle of the Western Fleet, the Sword Arm of the Western Naval Command. The ceremony was held at Mumbai after a gap of a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the ceremony was hosted by Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet. The ceremony marked the operational achievements of the Fleet from April 2020 to March 2021. The event was attended by Flag Officers of Western Naval Command with Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command as the Chief Guest.




The ceremony hosted this year was a modest one in adherence to Covid norms. While the attendance was in limited numbers, the achievements of the Fleet were numerous as expected of the Sword Arm. A total of 20 trophies were given away covering a myriad spectrum of naval operations, safety practices and morale. INS Kolkata was awarded the ‘Best Ship’ among the capital ships for exhibiting immaculate grit whilst undertaking a plethora of maritime operations. INS Tarkash was awarded the ‘Most Spirited’ ship for an awe-inspiring display of enthusiasm and morale in all Fleet activities, exercises at sea and indomitable spirit. INS Deepak won the award of ‘Best Ship’ in the category of Tankers and OPVs.

The year covering the operational cycle from April 2020 to March 2021 was anything but ordinary. While the norm of the hour was to work from home, the Western Fleet remained mission deployed and poised for action during the challenging period last year. The Western Fleet also contributed immensely to Covid relief missions in support of the National effort to fight the pandemic. The ships and aircraft of the western fleet also undertook daring rescue operations to save innumerable lives when cyclone Tauktae struck the western coast of India. Today’s ceremony also paid a tribute to the sacrifices of the men and their families who put the call of duty before themselves for all these missions. The Sword Arm remains the first responder, operationally deployed, combat-ready and stood too.

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US STATE SECRETARY BLINKEN ARRIVES IN NEW DELHI ON A TWO-DAY VISIT

Ashish Singh

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The USA State Secretary Antony J. Blinken has landed in New Delhi on a two-day visit to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to strengthening Indo-US partnership and underscore cooperation on shared priorities. Secretary Blinken will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar to discuss a wide range of issues, including continued cooperation on Covid-19 response efforts, Indo-Pacific engagement, shared regional security interests, shared democratic values, and addressing the climate crisis. On Indo-US ties, Secretary Antony J. Blinken has said, “The US and India are working together on so many of the most important challenges of our time and ones that are having a profound impact on the lives of our citizens. The partnership between the US and India is vital, it’s strong, and it’s increasingly productive.”

THE INDO-PACIFIC FRONT

India is a leading global power and a key US partner in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. At the inaugural Quad Leaders’ Summit in March, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi joined their Japanese and Australian counterparts in pledging to respond to the economic and health impacts of Covid-19, combat the climate crisis, and address shared challenges, including in cyber-space, critical technologies, counterterrorism, quality infrastructure investment, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maritime security.

DETERRING ADVERSARIES AND DEFENDING INTERESTS

US-India defence cooperation is reaching new heights, including through information sharing, liaison officers, increasingly complex exercises like Malabar, and defence enabling agreements, such as the secure communications agreement COMCASA. As of 2020, the US has authorised over $20 billion in defence sales to India. Through the US-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, the US and India work together on co-production and co-development of defence equipment. The US and India are also closely coordinating on regional security issues, such as Afghanistan.

STRENGTHENING THE US-INDIA PARTNERSHIP

The US and India have a strong strategic partnership founded on shared values and a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The US has supported India’s emergence as a leading global power and vital partner in efforts to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is a region of peace, stability, and growing prosperity and economic inclusion. The US and India cooperate on a wide range of diplomatic, economic and security issues, including defence, non-proliferation, regional cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, shared democratic values, counterterrorism, climate change, health, energy, trade and investment, peacekeeping, the environment, education, science and technology, agriculture, space, and oceans. In 2008, the US and India signed an agreement, making India a full partner in the governance and funding of the Fulbright Program. An increase in exchanges under the agreement has allowed for the development of new and innovative programs, and India now has the largest Fulbright Scholar (faculty) program in the world. In FY 2019, this funding provided opportunities for 61 U.S. Scholars, 66 Indian Scholars, 80 US students, including 29 English Teaching Assistants, and 55 Indian students, including 13 Foreign Language Teaching Assistants. The US and India are working to expand cooperation in international organisations. The US welcomed India joining the UN Security Council in January 2021 for a two-year term. In October 2020, India hosted the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, and the US looks forward to the next 2+2 later this year.

COMBATING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The US has contributed more than $200 million to India’s Covid-19 relief and response efforts since the pandemic began, including more than $50 million in emergency supplies and training for more than 218,000 frontline health workers on infection prevention and control, benefitting more than 43 million Indians. Earlier this year, the US and India initiated the renewal of a memorandum of understanding to collaborate through an International Center of Excellence in Research focused on infectious diseases, including Covid-19 and other emerging threats. The US and India are partnering to strengthen the global response to Covid-19, on issues ranging from addressing infectious disease outbreaks to strengthening health systems to securing global supply chains. The US pharmaceutical companies have coordinated with Indian companies since the beginning of the pandemic. This cooperation includes voluntary licensing and technology transfer agreements to increase global manufacturing capacity for Covid-19 vaccines, therapies, and conducting clinical trials.

TACKLING CLIMATE CRISIS

The US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry travelled to India in April of this year and met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They discussed the importance of two of the world’s largest economies leading together to address the climate crisis. At the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi launched the US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership to strengthen cooperation on strong actions in the current decade to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to help each country achieve its respective climate and clean energy goals. Under the new Agenda 2030 Partnership, the US and India look forward to launching the new Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue, led by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and relaunching the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership, led by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, later this year. The US looks forward to furthering cooperation with India on tackling the climate crisis and rising global ambition ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, in November.

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22ND KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS CELEBRATED ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Ashish Singh

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The nation remembers the supreme sacrifices of soldiers killed during the Kargil War when India successfully recaptured the covertly occupied few outposts inside the Line of Control on this day twenty-two years ago. Ever since the victory in Operation Vijay, 26 July is celebrated the ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ every year. Kargil Vijay Diwas is commemorated every year as a saga of gallantry and valour of a battle fought in the most inhospitable terrain in the World in the area of Kargil-Drass Sector of Ladakh. On this day the Indian Armed Force braving most difficult terrain, battling extreme weather conditions fought valiantly on the steep slopes of icy peaks with grit and valour thus defeating the evil designs of the enemy and throwing the intruders out from Indian soil. The Kargil War – Operation Vijay was fought at an altitude of approximately 16,000 feet. The ceremony was attended by a limited number of serving personnel from all three services following all COVID-19 safety precautions and guidelines.

DEFENCE MINISTER PAYS HOMAGE AT NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL ON KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid homage to the fallen heroes on the 22nd anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas at the National War Memorial in New Delhi on Monday. The Defence Minister laid wreath in the honour of the bravehearts who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation during India’s victory in ‘Operation Vijay’ in 1999, also known as Kargil conflict.

In his message in the visitors’ book at the National War Memorial, Shri Rajnath Singh recalled the valour of the bravehearts of the Kargil conflict, saying that nation will never forget the sacrifice made by the gallant heroes of Indian Armed Forces. He added that the grateful nation will always be indebted to their courage and continue to follow their ideals. In a tweet, the Defence Minister said the supreme sacrifice of the brave soldiers will inspire the generations to come. Rajnath Singh also shared a video message on Twitter in which he saluted the valour and sacrifice of the brave Indian soldiers. Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of the Army Staff General MM Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain also paid homage to the fallen heroes at the National War Memorial on the occasion. Senior civil and military officials of Ministry of Defence were also present on the occasion.

During the Kargil conflict, the gallant soldiers of the Indian Army, with the help of Indian Air Force, overcame insurmountable odds, hostile terrain and inclement weather to win against the enemy that had occupied dominating heights. On this momentous occasion, the proud nation is celebrating the victory by remembering the fallen heroes through various events across the country.

KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS CELEBRATED BY ANDAMAN & NICOBAR COMMAND

Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) celebrated Kargil Vijay Diwas at Birchgunj Military Station on Monday to commemorate India’s victory during the 1999 Kargil war. The wreath laying ceremony by a Joint- service guard, comprising all components of ANC, was organised to pay homage to the fallen heroes of the Kargil War, who made the supreme sacrifice, upholding the highest traditions of the Armed Forces. Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) Lieutenant General Ajai Singh laid a wreath to honour the bravehearts. Veterans of all the three services residing in Andaman and Nicobar Islands were also invited for the function. The CINCAN also interacted with the troops. He called for jointness among the Armed Forces and preparedness at all times, saying that it provides an exponential advantage in the battle field. All COVID-19 protocol measures were followed by the personnel present at the event.

HOMAGE PAID TO KARGIL VEERS AT THE WAR MEMORIAL AT VISAKHAPATNAM

On the occasion of the 22nd Anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas, Eastern Naval Command paid homage to our brave soldiers who laid down their lives fighting for our country. Vice Admiral Sreekumar Nair, Director General Naval Projects, Visakhapatnam, Mr. Manish Kumar Sinha, Commissioner of Police, Visakhapatnam and Commodore Rahul Gokhale Commanding Officer INS Circars paid homage to the Veers of Kargil War in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at ‘Victory at Sea’ War Memorial Visakhapatnam. A 50 men Guard of Honour was paraded on the occasion. The Guard performed the ‘Salami Shastra’ and Vice Adm Sreekumar Nair placed the floral wreath. While the bugler sounded the ‘Last Post’, a two-minute silence was observed.

HOMAGE PAID ON KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS AT SHAHEED SMARAK, MUMBAI

On the occasion of the 22nd Kargil Vijay Diwas on 26th July, a solemn wreath laying ceremony was conducted at Shaheed Smarak at Colaba, Mumbai to commemorate the victory of the Indian Armed Forces and to pay tribute to the supreme sacrifice of our martyrs. During the ceremony, wreaths were laid by Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, FOC-in-C Western Naval Command, followed by Lieutenant General S.K. Prashar, AVSM, VSM, General Officer Commanding Maharashtra Gujarat & Goa Area, Rear Admiral Atul Anand VSM, Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra Naval Area and Group Captain Jitendra Dinkar Masurkar, VM officiating Air Officer Commanding, Headquarters Maritime Air Operations and other Senior officers from all three services.

SOUTHERN ARMY COMMANDER PAYS HOMAGE AT WAR MEMORIAL, PUNE

Headquarters Southern Command celebrated Kargil Vijay Diwas which commemorates the Indian Armed Forces victory over Pakistan in 1999. 26th July every year is celebrated as ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ across the nation as a mark of remembrance for those who fought bravely at the icy heights with valour, defeating the enemy. Lt Gen J.S. Nain, GOC-in-C Southern Army in a solemn wreath laying ceremony held at the National War memorial, Pune paid tribute to the brave hearts of Kargil War who made the supreme sacrifice in maintaining the territorial integrity of the nation. Maj Gen Hukkur A.K. (Retd) the senior most veteran from Pune also laid wreath and paid homage to the Kargil War heroes. A week long celebration activities were organised across all Military Stations in Southern Command wherein Gallantry Award winners, veterans and veer naaris were felicitated during various events.“Kargil veterans are a source of inspiration to all of us in the Armed Forces and the nation. Their supreme sacrifice and service can never be forgotten,” said the Army Commander. He also felicitated the veterans present at the National War Memorial. During his interaction he gave assurance to all the veterans that the Indian Army is moving very strongly in the right directions as set by them and is absolutely committed and ready for any eventuality. The ceremony was conducted keeping strict COVID protocols with limited attendance.

ARMY CELEBRATES KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS

July 26 is observed as Kargil Vijay Diwas in memory of soldiers who sacrificed their life in Kargil War which took place from 3rd March to 26th July 1999. The day commemorates the success of “Operation Vijay” which was launched to recapture Indian territories occupied by Pakistani intruders in the Kargil-Drass sector in 1999. Kargil Vijay Diwas is a symbol of fearless determination and exceptional valour of Indian Armed Forces.

On the 22nd anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas, Sh Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya and Lt Gen KC Panchanathan, AVSM, GOC 101 Area garlanded the busts of Capt K.C. Nongrum, MVC (P) and Maj David Manlun, KC (P), the two brave hearts from Meghalaya, who laid down their lives for honour of their motherland at Rhino Heritage Museum, Shillong. The Chief Minister interacted with the families of the heroes who were also present for the occasion. Later Air Marshal Amit Dev, AVSM, VSM, AOC-in-C Eastern Air Comd, Lt Gen KC Panchanathan, AVSM, GOC 101 Area and Lt Gen PC Nair, AVSM, YSM, DGAR laid wreaths at Rhino Prerna Sthal, Shillong in the memory of brave hearts who had made supreme sacrifice in Operation Vijay. The event was also attended by serving personnel and veterans.

GAJRAJ CORPS PAYS TRIBUTES TO WAR HEROES ON THE OCCASION OF KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS

On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, General Officer Commanding Gajraj Corps Tezpur Lt Gen Ravin Khosla laid wreath and paid tributes to the bravehearts of the Kargil War who sacrificed their lives to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of the country, at Gajraj War Memorial in Tezpur on Monday. Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated every year on July 26 to commemorate India’s resounding victory over Pakistan in Operation Vijay in 1999.The Kargil war is regarded as a testimony of the Indian Armed Force’s grit and determination, in which the soldiers exhibited dauntless courage, resilience, valour and fought against all odds in the high altitude mountains in Kargil. Indian Army evicted the entrenched infiltrators from the icy heights and ensured a convincing victory for the country.

ASSAM RIFLES COMMEMORATES 22ND KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS IN MIZORAM

The battalions of 23 Sector Assam Rifles under the aegis of HQ IGAR(East) on Monday joined the nation in remembering the heroes of nation and celebrating 22nd anniversary of Indian Army’s victory in “Operation Vijay”. A grateful nation commemorates 26th July every year as “Kargil Vijay Diwas” to mark the victory of Indian Armed Forces against the intruders in icy heights of Kargil on this day. To pay tribute to the supreme sacrifice of our martyrs, a solemn wreath laying ceremony was organized at Assam Rifles War Memorial in Aizawl, Mizoram. Dr. Kambhampati Hari Babu, Governor of Mizoram graced the event as chief guest and also laid a wreath to honor the courage, valor and sacrifice of our martyrs.

The event also included visit of the Governor to the historical Quarter Guard of Assam Rifles. The construction of this historic building dates back to 1898, when this formed nucleus of ‘Aijal Fort’. The Aizawl city has developed with this building as its epicentre. Two majestic cannons used in the Battle of Waterloo placed in this building by Lt Col J Shakespeare, then superintendent of Lushai Hills add to the grandeur of the Quarter Guard. A motivational movie was screened at Serchhip showcasing the honour and valour of the martyrs during the Kargil war. An online quiz competition was organised at Lunglei for the kids as part of the Vijay Diwas celebrations.

KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS 2021 CELEBRATED AT KARGIL WAR MEMORIAL

The solemn ceremony to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the Kargil Vijay Diwas at the Kargil War Memorial, Dras was held with Mr. R.K. Mathur, Lt Governor as the Chief Guest who laid a wreath and paid his tributes to the fallen soldiers in a ceremony held at Kargil War Memorial, symbolising ‘Shradhanjali’ from the entire nation to the bravehearts. This year’s Kargil Vijay Diwas celebrations were unique in two ways as the Kargil Vijay Diwas coincided with the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Flame’ reaching the Kargil War Memorial. The journey of the Victory Flame across the country commemorates 50 years of triumph in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

On 26th July, at the Kargil War Memorial, the proceedings commenced with the reception of the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Flame’ at the Kargil War Memorial by General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff in the presence of Lt Gen Y.K. Joshi, GOC-in-C Northern Command, Lt Gen P.G.K. Menon, GOC 14 Corps, Lt Gen D.P. Pandey, GOC 15 Corps and Lt Gen M.V. Suchindra Kumar, GOC 16 Corps, other officers, gallantry awardees, Veer Naris, NoKs of martyrs and civil dignitaries. It was followed by a solemn Wreath Laying Ceremony by esteemed civil and military dignitaries. The gallantry awardees of the Kargil War, next of kin of bravehearts, and veer naris also paid their tributes to the fallen heroes with tearful nostalgia. Every year on this day, the nation pays homage to the supreme sacrifices made by our bravehearts during Operation VIJAY in the Kargil War of 1999.

GAJRAJ CORPS PAYS TRIBUTES TO WAR HEROES ON THE OCCASION OF KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS

On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, General Officer Commanding Gajraj Corps Tezpur Lt Gen Ravin Khosla layed wreath and paid tributes to the bravehearts of the Kargil War who sacrificed their lives to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of the Country, at Gajraj War Memorial in Tezpur on Monday. Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated every year on July 26 to commemorate India’s resounding victory over Pakistan in Operation Vijay in 1999. The Kargil war is regarded as a testimony of the Indian Armed Force’s grit and determination, in which the soldiers exhibited dauntless courage, resilience, valour and fought against all odds in the high altitude mountains in Kargil. Indian Army evicted the entrenched infiltrators from the icy heights and ensured a convincing victory for the country.

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Defence

INS AIRAVAT REACHES JAKARTA WITH COVID RELIEF SUPPLIES FOR INDONESIA

Ashish Singh

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Indian Naval Ship Airavat arrived at the Port of Jakarta, Indonesia, carrying essential COVID-19 relief supplies. The ship has brought five Cryogenic containers containing 100 MT of Liquid Oxygen and 300 Concentrates to support Indonesia in its fight against the ongoing pandemic.

INS Airavat is a Landing Ship Tank (Large) type of ship with a primary role to carry out amphibious operations and is capable of carrying multiple tanks, amphibious vehicles and other military cargo. The ship is also deployed for HADR relief operations and has been a part of various relief efforts across the Indian Ocean Region. India and Indonesia enjoy close cultural and commercial ties. Both countries have been working together in the maritime domain towards a safer Indo-Pacific. The navies regularly carry out joint naval exercises in the form of bilateral exercises and coordinated patrols.

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Defence

22ND KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS CELEBRATIONS COMMENCE AT DRAS SECTOR IN KASHMIR

Ashish Singh

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The celebrations of 22nd Kargil Vijay Diwas commenced at Kargil War Memorial, Dras on Sunday. Early in the morning, a special event narrating the stories of Operation VIJAY was organized by the Army at Lamochen near Dras where an account of the epic battles on Tololing, Tiger Hill, Pt 4875 and other prominent features was narrated with these very landmarks visible to the audience in front of their eyes. A number of military personnel including the gallantry award winners and families of Kargil War heroes attended the event. The narration took everyone down the memory lane showcasing the daring feat achieved by the valiant soldiers of Indian Army.

Later in the day, the venue of the celebrations shifted to the Kargil War Memorial. A Fusion Military Band put up a display which was followed by a solemn ‘Beating the Retreat’ Ceremony and a Memorial Service, where the attendees paid silent tribute to the fallen heroes. At the memorial, 559 Lamps were also lit, which were a symbolic reminder of lives sacrificed by 559 bravehearts for the Nation. The last event of the day was, ‘A Twilight with Brave Hearts’, with the soldiers at Polo Ground, Dras. In a special tribute to the heroes of Kargil War, musician Aman Chandra enthralled the audience with his musical performance during the eve. Later in the evening, a performance by the Fusion Band of Indian Army along with their lighted pipers was planned as a humble tribute to the valour of our brave soldiers. The trailer of Captain Vikram Batra’s biopic, ‘Shershah’ by Dharma Productions was also released and ‘Maa Teri Kasam’, a soulful and emotive song, conceptualised by Northern Command was screened.

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