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05:49 PM | Tue, 25 Oct 2016

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No Lack of Coordination During Pathankot Operations, Says Army Chief

285 Days ago
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NEW DELHI: Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag today asserted there was total synergy and coordination during the operation against terrorists in Pathankot even as he admitted that some lessons needed to be learnt.The Army chief said he was monitoring the operation but the Western Commander had complete liberty in its planning and execution.He expressed concern over infiltration along the borders with Pakistan in Punjab but made it clear that the responsibility lies with BSF, which is manning the area.Suhag said the siege of a building near the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's Mazar-i-Sharif was not connected to the Pathankot attack but added that only a thorough probe would give details.The Army chief indicated that the six Pakistani terrorists could well have been hiding inside the Pathankot air base as he asserted that "no one got in" once the Army cordon was placed along the 24 km-long perimeter wall.Asked what lessons can be learnt from the Pathankot operation, he said there are lessons to be learnt in all operations but he would like to wait for the report by NIA about how the terrorists managed to get in and other lapses.Giving details of the operation, the Army chief said crisis management committee, under National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, met before the Pathankot attack and he had alerted commanders in Northern and Western sectors.He defended the plan to send in NSG, saying "NSG is the best force to deal with hostage situation" and that it "was a good decision".Suhag said there was "no" lack of coordination and local commanders had complete liberty in planning and execution of the counter-terror operation which was carried out under Western Army Commander Lt Gen K J Singh.His comments came amid questions raised by experts as to why there was multiple change in command and why the NSG, a paramilitary force under the Home Ministry, led the operation."As far as the Army is concerned, it was not under anybody's command. It was under the Western Army Commander who was monitoring and controlling the operations on my behalf," Suhag said.Rejecting the criticism that long time was taken to kill the terrorists, the Army chief said, "The time taken to complete the operations should be left to the commander on the ground."He added that one of the important task at hand was to ensure safety of the assets, the over 10,000 people living at the base and the foreign trainees.He asserted that contrary to reports, eight columns of the Army, with about 70 men each, were deployed, besides the special forces.Assuring the country, Suhag said the Army is highly motivated and ready to respond to any threats to our national security."It was a good operation. To ensure less casualties we had to take time to complete operation," he said, adding that not one soldier was killed in direct combat and five soldiers were killed in first contact.Suhag said he was monitoring the operation and was in regular touch with Lt Gen Singh.The Army chief said his directions on Pathankot operation was to secure all facilities and personnel, ensure no one escapes and to avoid casualties.He admitted there were lessons to be learnt in all operations and said he would like to wait for the report by NIA about how the terrorists managed to get in and other lapses.He also defended Lt Col Niranjan of NSG, who was killed while retrieving a booby trapped body, saying he was the most qualified officer to handle the situation in Pathankot.The Army chief confirmed that unarmed soldiers were present in the building in which last two terrorists had been holed up and they were evacuated safely.He said there was good coordination on the ground between Army and NSG with the latter also giving cover fire to former during the operation.He also said mine-proof vehicles and armoured vehicles were moved as and when required. Suhag said that security audit of all military bases have been ordered.


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