A force that can be deployed any time to protect sovereignty of the country is essential for effective deterrence which is the cornerstone of country's defence policy, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a function in Sulur, Tamil Nadu, to present Presidential Standard to 25 and 33 Squadron of the Indian Air Force, Mukherjee said, "India stands for peace and its foreign policy is focused on the achievement of this objective."
"Therefore, effective deterrence is the cornerstone of our defence policy. But effective deterrence requires the maintenance of a force that can be called upon at any time, to secure the sovereignty of our nation. Our armed force, of which the men and the women who stand before us, symbolises, this capability," he said.
Lauding the role of Air Force, the President said the force has not only safeguarded sovereignty of the country but also been available for providing humanitarian assistance during disaster both within and outside the nation.
"I do remember that the Air Force had flown relief supply in 2005 to a place as far as the US when Hurricane Katrina had struck New Orleans. In 2008, the Indian Air Force flew relief supplies to earthquake hit South western Province of Sichuan in China," he said.
During the ceremony, Mukherjee inspected the parade participated by 56 officers and over 400 air men. The aircraft AN32 and Dornier in small boy formation gave a flypast to the Standard.
A Presidential Standard is a flag awarded by the head of the state to a military unit. It is one of the greatest honours bestowed upon a unit or squadron in recognition of exceptional service rendered by it to the nation, both in war and peace.
25 Squadron of the Indian Air Force, known as "The Himalayan Eagles", has been the lifeline of the armed forces personnel and citizens in the Northern Frontiers for over five decades, in times of peace as well as war. The primary role of the Squadron is air maintenance in the northern sector.
It is said to be the life-line of army units posted in hostile and rugged region of Ladakh and Siachen which remain out of bounds for road traffic during winters and air dropping by AN 32s and helicopters is the only way of providing supplies. The squadron also carries out night operations in Leh region using IL76s and AN 32s.
"During the 1965 and 1971 wars and Kargil operations, the aircraft of 25 squadron had even in the face of heavy odds, airlifted critical supplies for the troops and performed some very important operations. The squadron has provided swift relief to fellow citizens in almost all natural calamities including Bhuj Earthquake and Tsunami relief," he said.
He said the Squadron has been pillar of support in providing security and succour, besides playing a critical role in development of Jammu and Kashmir and the entire northern region.
The 33 Squadron which was inducted into the IAF in 1963, in Guwahati, served in northeast region as transport units till 1991 when it moved to Sulur in Coimbatore.
Famous for its rescue role in Tangail operations in 1971, the unit also earned laurels during the 2004 tsunami.
"The 33 squadron is a premier Transport squadron of the Indian Air Force. The Squadron participated in both 1965 and 1971 wars. The Squadron played a major role in the Indian Peace Keeping Force operations in 1989," he said.
Mukherjee said after tsunami, the personnel of the 33 Squadron flew extensive relief operations, bringing much needed respite to the local populace.