''We are facing a threat. Since 1947, India has been facing threats from external forces. But, we are now facing threats from many sources,'' he told a gathering of Armed Forces Veterans' Rally, conducted as part of the Military Mela 2008. The country was surrounded by frail states, he said. ''India can always be confident that whenever there is a threat to our integrity, however powerful, we have our dedicated armed forces,'' Mr Antony underlined.
On the Centre's commitment to the welfare of ex-servicemen and the armed forces personnel, he said everything would be done to resolve their problems. ''The welfare of the ex-service men is the nation's responsibility. The state and the Centre have equal responsibility for their welfare,'' he said.
He also pointed out that the government was seriously considering lateral entry for ex-service men. ''A second career for them is a top priority of the Centre. Most of the soldiers retire at prime age of 30 or 35 years. These men need a second career. Last year, the government was able to provide a second career to about 44,000 ex-service men and this year, the target is 50,000,'' he said.
Mr Antony also distributed specialised scooters to disabled soldiers and disbursed financial assistance to 'Veer Naris' at the function.