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On his last day as Army Chief, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag pays tribute to martyrs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Dalbir Singh paid tribute at Amar Jawan Jyoti on his last day as Army Chief on Saturday. He will be replaced by Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as new army chief.General Singh inspected the guard of honour on his last day as Army Chief. “I salute our martyrs who made supreme sacrifices in upholding honour of the nation,” he said. He also thanked the Centre for granting One Rank One Pension to the armed forces.He also thanked PM Narendra Modi and the Centre “for their full support and giving free hand in conduct of operations”. Gen Dalbir Singh praised the Indian Army saying ,”Indian army delievered that in the last 2 and a half years. Indian Army is fully prepared and well trained to tackle any challenges be it external or internal. I strongly believe that actions must speak louder than words.” “In 2012, we had killed 67 terrorists, 65 in 2013 & killed 141 terrorists alone in J&K this year,” said General Dalbir Singh on his last day as the Army Chief. (With ANI/PTI inputs)Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment as the new Army Chief had created a controversy as it superseding seniors Lt Gen Bakshi and Southern Army commander Lt Gen PM Hariz. It had also sparked a fierce political row between a section of the Opposition and the government.

Blame for the Uri terror attack must go all the way up to the Army Chief

Now that the rhetoric of war has died down, it is time to calmly analyse what really happened at Uri.

It was a military failure and the blame rests not only with the unit commanders — two of them, as per the number of casualties recorded. Certainly, the brigade commander under whose command this incident took place is equally at fault; so to is the core commander and the blame must go all the way up to the Chief of Army Staff. The death of the soldiers was not because of the militants. Their deaths were the result of a joint failure of the leadership. It was a system failure.

File image of General Dalbir Singh Suhag. PTI

File image of General Dalbir Singh Suhag. PTI

The Indian Army under General Dalbir Singh Suhag has not really learnt lessons after Pathankot. After the Pathankot attacks, blame was conveniently passed between the air force and the army. Let’s be clear: The security of Pathankot airbase is the responsibility of the army and nobody else. Suhag has failed to secure the system or to bring a sense of urgency to the system. It is more unfortunate that he has not taken responsibility of this failure in Uri. Poor leadership is also defined by the inability to take responsibility.

Uri is close to the Line of Control and is known for the presence of sleeper cells and sympathisers of extremists. This is something that the army and intelligence is aware of, and it has been ignored judging by the fact that the attackers were able to get inside an army camp. An army camp so close to LoC cannot have such lax security there are no excuses for the laxity. The laxity in a unit command is a sign that action is not being taken at the top-most echelon of the army.

Action was not taken after Pathankot happened; in fact, Suhag brushed it off as if nothing happened.

Instead, what we have is the Director-General, Military Operations (DGMO) giving us homilies and a Wikipedia feed about Jaish-e-Mohammad.

When Pathankot happened, Suhag diverted the issue in his press conference. He did not own up to the failure of the area commander in Pathankot, he did not own up to his own responsibility. On 13 January this year, Suhag said that there was ‘no issue of coordination’ between the different agencies. Why did he divert the focus and responsibility of the army in securing all establishments in the area? The Ministry of Defence and the political leadership also calmly accepted and are equally guilty of allowing Uri to happen.

The army chain of command has eroded and Uri is a sign of the same laxity.

The army works on a system of responsibility: If the platoon commander does not take full responsibility of guarding his post, the system fails. The system fails because it is responsibility that is considered supreme and it is the reason a soldier lays down his life to save his post. If the top leadership does not show the same kind of leadership, why should a soldier sacrifice his life? A lack of courage in accepting responsibility affects the whole line of command. The army has a whole standard operating procedure laid down for such failures.

The death of the soldiers was not because of the militants. Their deaths were the result of a joint failure of the leadership. It was a system failure.

It was not followed during Pathankot and it look as if it is not going to be followed after Uri. The failure of command is closely monitored in the army; every incident of failure and refusal to accept responsibility weakens the system. What was needed after Uri was for Suhag to address the issue directly. It is not right for him to hide under the wave of nationalism sweeping the country. The army command cannot respond like politicians and use the media as a diversion and hide its own failure. If the army leadership starts behaving like politicians, we can effectively wave goodbye to the army as an institution.

The reason things still function in the army is because of certain core principles. I’m afraid those core principle are lost under the current leadership. Those 20 soldiers died because of poor leadership. It will happen again and will keep happening till a strong decision is taken to correct this weak leadership.

The author is a policy commentator based in New Delhi. He tweets @yatishrajawat

Singh vs Singh: Have our armed forces forgotten how to be officers and gentlemen?

The current murky reports of the incumbent chief of the Indian Army, General Dalbir Singh making allegations in court against his former chief and now minister VK Singh are tacky at best but must also be placed in perspective.

General Dalbir Singh did not choose this fight. He is only responding to a court case placed by retired Lt Gen Ravi Dastane who believes he was robbed of his fourth star and has sought legal address. The Chief of Army Staff has to respond or be seen in contempt of court.

General Dalbir Singh and Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh. Image courtesy PIBGeneral Dalbir Singh and Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh. Image courtesy PIB

General Dalbir Singh and Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh. Image courtesy PIB

Lt Gen Dastane believes that the then Chief Gen Bikram Singh blew away the cloud hovering over General Dalbir’s command reports and handed him the baton which should have gone to Lt Gen Dastane.

What justice Lt Gen Dastane expects to receive is difficult to perceive since it is the government that can take recommendations and then decide who should be chief. And it is all water under the bridge.

Generals traditionally fade away. Nowadays they go to court.

When you join the forces you get no guarantees of promotion after achieving your years of service rank. Then it is open house. And you do your best and you take your chances. Many a career has been shot down by a senior officer because of personal and professional reasons.

The armed forces have a major flaw in that the annual confidential reports have to be adverse for the officer being reported upon to see them. Otherwise they are totally confidential and the best way to destroy a career is to give the officer below you an average to high average report at about 6.5 which successfully destroys any chances of his promotion to general rank.

He cannot complain but he doesn’t get the next rung. And all too often he does not know why.

Brigadiers do not become Major Generals, two star officers with great career records are left behind and, most certainly, three star officers cannot all become chiefs.

Live with it. Thousands have. They are sidetracked, blocked, bypassed, overlooked and in service terms ‘don’t make it.’

The other way of doing someone in is to transfer an officer to a non operational command. Make him a sub area commander or send him as GOC of an Area or simply dispatch him to the NCC. Party over and he cannot complain.

That nepotism, regimental loyalty, personal dislike or regional affection can all play a role. That is human nature. So can ground reality. When Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw was given a six month extension in June 1972 the ripple effect hit several careers and shuffled the pack of contenders for the fourth star.

The death of an incumbent has the same effect.

But no one went to court. Being in uniform you took your lumps, saluted, packed your bags and went home.

There was a grace and dignity in that conduct. And a tradition that yours was not to question why, but simply to do and die.

Out there would be thousands of officers at various levels who truly believe they were done down, done out, done the dirty. Reading this a retired General or Admiral or Air Marshal would nod wisely but with sadness and remember that the forces never washed their linen in public.

And this retired officer would look at these men squabbling in this undignified fashion and four star incumbents hiring lawyers and former chiefs being accused of skulduggery and pension taking Corps commanders filing cases like cry babies and he would say, this is not the armed forces I joined.

Put the linen back in the closet.

Be officers and gentlemen.

You got three stars Lt Gen Dastane and you flew your flag.. That’s one in ten thousand. Be grateful you weren’t left behind as a time scale Colonel because your brigade commander gave you a 6.5.

Maharashtra: Two bodies recovered, death toll in fire at central ammunition depot rises to 18

Two more bodies were on Wednesday recovered from the site of the fire mishap at central ammunition depot at Pulgaon in Wardha district, taking the death toll to 18.Three persons were missing since Tuesday. Two bodies have been recovered and one person is still missing, sources said. The bodies recovered on Wednesday were yet to be identified, they said.A massive fire on Tuesday broke out at one of Asia’s biggest ammunition depot in Maharashtra’s Pulgaon that houses the largest stockpile of weapons in the country. The fire occurred in the wee hours at one of the sheds that housed “highly sensitive ammunition” in the high security central ammunition depot (CAD), spread over 7,000 acres.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”However, in efforts to douse the fire, two officers and 14 personnel (including one Army jawan and 13 civilian fire fighting staff) lost their lives and two officers and 15 personnel (including nine Army Jawans and six civilian fire fighting staff) were injured,” Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Ranbir Singh had said.Loud explosions were heard one after the other as the raging fire lit up the night sky. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained and the Army has instituted an inquiry into the incident, Singh had said.
ALSO READ Maharashtra: Seven victims blown to pieces in central ammunition depot explosions, says officialDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said there was no sabotage involved in the fire at the ammunition depot but the exact cause would be known only after inquiry. Parrikar along with Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, had on Tuesday visited CAD, Pulgaon and met the injured persons in a local hospital.

16 dead, 17 injured in Pulgaon ammunition depot fire

Sixteen people were killed and 17 injured in a fire at India’s largest military ammunition depot in Pulgaon, 115 km from Nagpur, on Tuesday.The fire, first detected at 1.10 am in one of the 10 ammunition sheds of the Central Ammunition Depot (CAD) of the Indian Army, was doused by 6.30 am. Ten fire engines were pressed into service.The deceased include a Lieutenant Colonel and Major, besides 13 personnel of the Defence Fire Services and two guards of the Defence Services Corps. Army sources said that approximately 130 tonnes of anti-tank mines were destroyed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained. The damage is being assessed. An inquiry has been ordered by the Army,” director general of military operations, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, told reporters in New Delhi.The condition of the injured is stable. Army medical teams were moved from Pune to provide specialist care. The injured were evacuated to a multi-speciality hospital at Wardha, 35 km from Pulgaon.dna found a few names of the deceased but decided to withhold them since the Army was still in the process of informing their next of kin at the time of going to press.”We have lost our brothers. There is sensitivity involved. We will release all names only after we have informed the families,” a senior official at Army headquarters told dna.Sources said that the dead and injured were from the first group of men who responded to the fire. They died while containing the fire in the same shed where it started. Had it not been for them, the fire would have spread to other sheds too, a source said.CAD is spread over 7,000 acres. It stores a variety of ammunition, including AK-47s and BrahMos missiles.Defence minister Manohar Parrikar and Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag visited Pulgaon to asses the situation.

Siachen: Body of porter who fell into crevasse found

After a massive operation, the army on Wednesday traced the body of a porter who had fallen into a 200 feet deep crevasse in Siachen’s Northern Glacier, with Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag saying all possible measures will be undertaken to retrieve it.The porter accidentally fell in the crevasse on February 27. Rescue operations by specialised army teams were launched immediately. Rescue teams cut through the frozen snow and ice to reach 130 feet deep where they located the body, army sources said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Paying rich tributes to the porter, the Army chief said he was “one of us”.”It takes extraordinary courage, physical fitness and mental robustness for a civilian porter to work with the army in the torturous and unforgiving terrain of Siachen. For me, he is one of us,” General Suhag told PTI here.He said all possible measures will be taken and the army will not rest till the body is retrieved.The incident came just weeks after an avalanche killed 10 soldiers in Siachen.

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