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Friday, April 2, 2010

New chief vows to fix Army's 'internal health'

TIMES OF INDIA

 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/New-chief-vows-to-fix-Armys-internal-health/articleshow/5752194.cms

I WONDER : THE DISEASE HAS BEEN RIGHTLY DIAGNOSED . I HOPE LIKE A PROFESSIONAL DOCTOR ITS CAUSES REPEAT CAUSES AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES TOO ARE KNOWN TO HIM

NEW DELHI: As a third-generation officer, General Vijay Kumar Singh knows the poison of corruption and indiscipline is slowly but surely contaminating the once pristine environs of the armed forces. On his first full working day as the 24th army chief, he spelt out his top priority: improving the Army's "internal health".

Taking charge of the 1.13-million strong Indian Army, Gen Singh said fast modernization to build "a networked force" capable of operating in "a digitized battlefield", equal focus on the two-and-a-half fronts (China, Pakistan and counter-insurgency) and enhanced synergy with Navy-IAF would be his major thrust areas.

The message on day one was loud and clear: he means business on the corruption front. `Crackdown' is too strong a word but yes, the Army needs to ensure it retains its robust moral fibre of yore.

"Army has very strong traditions, core values and way of working, and that is what I want to emphasize. For any organization to do well, it must ensure its internal health is good. Till our internal health is not good, we cannot fight well outside," said Gen Singh.

"We have to set our own culture right. We have to ensure the image and dignity of our soldiers is upheld. To that extent, our core values, our ethos, traditions will receive due attention," he added.

This comes in the backdrop of a flurry of scandals hitting the force, ranging from liquor, meat, cereal, petrol and other scams to even sexual harassment cases, in recent times. The Sukna land scam case, in which as many as four generals were indicted by a court of inquiry, in fact, even cast a shadow on the Army chief's high office.

The oft-repeated argument that the Army draws its rank and file from the society at large, which is facing a general decline in standards of probity and integrity, does not hold water for the straight-talking new chief.
"Armed forces have their own value systems, which have to be different from civil society. As a third-generation officer, I feel that way," said Gen Singh.

Turning to the other challenges ahead, Gen Singh said the new focus on the long-neglected eastern sector did not mean the Army -- which is raising two new mountain infantry divisions and an artillery brigade for Arunachal Pradesh and Assam -- was shifting its priorities from the western front with Pakistan to the eastern one with China.

"As a country, we have challenges everywhere. We are very well prepared to tackle them. It's only that over the last two years, we have realigned the focus in the East, which is the future of India," said Gen Singh.

There is `concern' over China's rapid modernization of its 2.25-million People's Liberation Army, which is not restricted to just the Tibetan Autonomous Region but spreads all across.

"They are working to make their forces more capable of working in a digitized battlefield. We also have to ensure we become a networked force, capable of working in a joint services environment," he said.

The chief will push hard for Army's modernization, stretching from heavy 155mm artillery guns to basic infantry gear, to ensure better operational readiness across the entire spectrum of conflict. "I am looking at ensuring our deficiencies are made up in a shorter timeframe," he said.

He also articulated the Army's well-known opposition to both withdrawal of the iron-fisted Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Jammu and Kashmir and being dragged into combating Naxalism, which is more of a law and order, socio-economic problem, "not a secessionist movement".

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