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Prez bestows rare honours on war machines

Posted on Dec 19, 07:09AM | UNI

President Pranab Mukherjee today said India stands for peace and its foreign policy is focused on the achievement of this objective, which is why 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 women who stand before us, symbolises this capability," Mr Mukherjee said while delivering his speech after presenting the Presidential Standard to 25 Squadron and 33 Squadron of the IAF at Sulur air base here.

Mr Mukherjee said the operational capability of the IAF constitutes an important cutting edge of the nation's military strength.

Mr Mukherjee said, "Since we gained independence, the Indian Air Force, besides safeguarding the sovereignty of our nation, has always been available to provide humanitarian assistance during disasters 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 Katrina had struck New Orleans.

In 2008, the IAF flew relief supply to quake hit south western province of Sichuan in China." Mr Mukherjee said, "It gives me immense pleasure to award Standards to 25 Squadron and 33 Squadron of the IAF. Both these flying units have a rich tradition of valour and courage and have rendered distinguished service to the nation since their inception. Their personnel, both past and present, have set the highest standards in pursuit of excellence that others would do well to emulate. For their selfless devotion, professionalism and courage in the face of adversity, the nation honours them today." The 25 Squadron, '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 wars. It has been a pillar of support in providing security and succor, besides playing a critical role in development of Jammu and Kashmir and the entire northern region, the President said.

He added during the 1965 and the 1971 wars and Kargil operations, the aircraft of the 25 Squadron had even in the face of heavy odds, airlifted critical supplies for the troops and performed some very important operations.

The President said the Squadron provided swift relief to fellow citizens in almost all natural calamities, including Bhuj earthquake and Tsunami relief.

Lavishing praise on the 33 Squadron, he said it is a premier Transport squadron of the IAF, adding it participated both in 1965 and 1971 wars.

He said the Squadron played a major role in the Indian Peace Keeping Force operations in Sri Lanka in 1989.' "After Tsunami struck our island territories, the personnel of 33 Squadran flew extensive relief operation, bringing much needed respite to the local populace," he said.