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"Army prepared to face all challenges to national security''

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Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh inspects a Guard of Honour during the Army Day parade in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: PTI.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh has asserted that the Indian Army is prepared to face all challenges to national security and foil the designs of the enemy against the backdrop of nationwide anger over the beheading of a soldier by Pakistani troops on the LoC.

Addressing the 65th Army Day parade here on Tuesday, the Army Chief also flagged the issue of human rights saying Indian Army's record is the best in the world as far as human rights is concerned.

Noting that the Indian Army personnel work in tough terrain like Siachen, Singh said they discharge their duties in those areas while "following the principles of war and human rights".

Singh said the Indian Army has kept its operational preparedness at the highest level in view of various challenges.

"I want to assure the nation that Indian Army is prepared to face all challenges to national security....Every soldier of the Indian Army is ready to face any challenge and we are ready to make any sacrifice for the security of the nation...

"Indian Army is always prepared for securing boundaries of the nation and foil the designs of the enemy...It deals with all challenges in a professional manner," the Army chief said in his speech in which he also touched upon issues like modernisation of forces and their parity with civil administration.

Talking tough over the killing of two Indian jawans by Pakistan Army on January 8 in Mendhar area of Jammu and Kashmir, the Army Chief had warned Pakistan that India reserves the right to retaliate at the "time and place" of its choosing.

While talking about the modernisation plan of the Army including the induction of attack helicopters and other equipments in the force, Singh said at the parade, "We understand the importance of human mind working behind the machine".

The Army chief expressed confidence that the Army, the Airforce, the Navy, central paramilitary forces and the police will together provide a strong safety shield to the country.

He also talked about plans for construction of rehabilitation homes and one old age home in each command area for the welfare of the Army personnel.

The Army Chief stated that the 4,000 units of the Indian Army were its basic strength.

"We are releasing the Unit Commanders' Manual today which will act as the working guide for them," he said in his address.

Gen Singh said it was time to work in a joint manner and several steps were being taken to enhance jointness among the three Services and the central police forces.

"I am sure that the three Services and the Central Armed Police Force will build a strong security shield to defend the country," he said.

The Army Chief also declared 2013 as the 'Year in pursuit of all-round excellence' and asked all his personnel to stand by 'Naam, namak aur nishan'(honour, loyalty and flag).

Meanwhile, during the parade ceremony, the Army showcased its Lancer attack helicopters along with its other aerial capabilities in the parade.

The Army was recently given control over the attack helicopter fleet of the country despite stiff opposition by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in this regard.

On the occasion, the Army Chief presented 15 gallantry awards, including five posthumously, to personnel and their family members.

The awardees included Lance Naik Patey Tassuk of 21 Rashtriya Rifles who received two Sena Medals for gallantry in one year. The medals were received by his wife Takio Ari from Arunchal Pradesh.

Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Mishra from 18 Jat regiment was awarded the Sena Medal for gallantry posthumously for an operation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Rifleman Manzoor Ahmed Bhat of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry was awarded the medal for killing a foreign terrorist in Baramulla in Kashmir Valley.

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