'Use of IAF must lead to less collateral damage'

Posted By: Staff
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Allahabad, Apr 12: Air Chief Marshal PV Naik on Monday, Apr 12, said that any decision to use air power to combat Naxals must be conducted with clear strategy to limit collateral damage. 

The Air Chief reitarated his earlier stand, saying that though Air Force was prepared to tackle any challenge to the country's internal security, the use of armed forces was not required.

"We have the capability to conduct strikes with utmost precision. However, it must be understood that if a 250 kg bomb is dropped at a spot, its impact will be in a radius of at least 800 m and that may affect many people who may not themselves be insurgents", Air Chief Marshal PV Naik told reporters here.

"If at all a situation arises where the use of Air Force becomes inevitable, there has to be a clarity on the magnitude of the force we are supposed to use so that the collateral damage is minimum.

"After all, we are dealing with our own people in our own territory", the IAF chief said.

Asked whether the Home Ministry has approached the Air Force for help, Naik replied in negative.

"So far we have not been approached by the home ministry for any type of help in combating Naxalites," he said.

The Air Chief reitarated his earlier stand that use of armed forces was not required, when he was asked to expressed his view now.

"I personally still hold the view," he said.

"We would, however, like to add that even though not involved in active combat, the Indian Air Force has done its bit by conducting reconnaissance of Naxal-infested areas and sharing the inputs with the governments concerned", he said.

However, Naik said that the IAF had not provided any inputs to the the Chattisgarh government prior to the Dantewada massacre.

"We had deployed UAVs in the tribal state a couple of years ago and provided inputs at that time."

"Those inputs could not have been of use at this time as at present we are not conducting any reconnaissance in that region," he said.

"It also needs to be understood that the reconnaissance by our UAVs will have some limitations. It can give information about a number of people gathering at a spot but it cannot tell you whether it is a group of armed insurgents or ordinary tribals and villagers.

"Moreover, aerial survey may not be possible in dense jungles as the devices cannot see through a canopy of trees, bushes and shrubs", the IAF chief said.

On media reports about the possibility of intelligence leak as the cause of Dantewada massacre, Naik said, "I am neither aware of such reports nor do I have any idea of leaks".

Commenting on India's tie with its neighbouring countries Naik said that India was not engaged in any arms race with its neighbour.

"We are not involved in an arms race. We upgrade ourselves with regard to what are the needs of our country and not what type of weapons Pakistan or China are acquiring," he said.

The Army Chief was in the city for the inauguration of a four-day Station Commanders' Conference, which is being conducted at the Central Air Command headquarters.

The Conference was attended by the commanders from units located in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Bihar are taking part.

OneIndia News

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