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Home > News > PTI

Armed forces fully prepared: Vice chief

December 28, 2006 14:45 IST

Maintaining that the rise in stress-related deaths in the armed forces has not translated into battle weariness, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General S Pattabhiraman on Thursday said that army's operational preparadness was at its"peak".

"Whether its personnel, equipment, weapons or force multipliers, we are at our peak preparedness," Pattabhiraman said asserting that stress had not affected the combat readiness of the forces.

The Vice Chief, who lays down office on Friday after 40 years of serivce, told PTI that 95 per cent of the country's over 1.2 million strong army was at present in "operational preparedness stage as also the weapons systems".

Exuding confidence that the forces would soon "get over" the spate of suicides and fratricides in its ranks, he said the defence ministry as well as service headquarters were undertaking an "in depth analysis" of the causes leading to these unfortunate incidents. "We will soon come up with necessary steps to address the grievances of the soliders, which lead to this stress in the frontline," he said.

Noting that the increase in such unnatural deaths was a cause of concern, Pattabhiraman said army as well as the ministry was awaiting reports of high-level committee probing this new trend.

"The reports should be out soon and we intend to tackle this problem on war footing," he said. He said the army had the resilience to overcome such problems, though such cases were coming to the fore for the first time.

Strangely, according to army figures, the suicides among the personnel are happening more during peaceful times and locations than in active commands like northern and eastern Commands, where personnel are engaged in counter-insurgency operations.

However, the figures point out that fratricide cases are mostly in northern and eastern Command. Brushing aside questions on whether there was a possibility of enforcing reservations in the armed forces, the Vice Chief said that recruitment to the forces was strictly on the basis of merit.

On reports of terrorists trying to use new routes from Nepal and Bangladesh to sneak into India, Pattabhiraman said that the ministry of home affairs and intelligence set up had been geared up to tackle this phenomenon.



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