Southern Army Commander Lieutenant General DR Soni, speaking on the eve of the 124th Raising Day of the Southern Command on Saturday, said the Army’s manpower was changing because of transitions in the social and educational setup. Keeping soldiers ready for “the battles of today and tomorrow” is one of the challenges of the future, he said.
The Southern Command, India’s oldest field army, celebrates its 124th Raising Day on April 1, the day on which it was raised in Pune in 1895. To commemorate the occasion, authorities have organised a ‘military tattoo’ on Saturday and Sunday to showcase its prowess. The event is being conducted at the General Parade Ground, Race Course.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event on Saturday, Lt Gen Soni said, “41 per cent of India’s land mass is under the Southern Command’s area of responsibility. It is the largest Command in the Indian Army. We are making sure that we are well equipped and well trained… I want to assure our citizens that they are safe. We are standing strong for their protection.”
On the new challenges faced by an Army formation of the size of the Southern Command, he said, “There are challenges, like those posed by the social changes around us. There are challenges of change in the system of our education. There is a change in manpower that is coming in — whether they are officers or of other ranks. Because of all this, we are getting different intake. So, to take them all together and prepare them for the battles of today and tomorrow is a challenge. At the same time, the terrain in this Command ranges from the desert, to creeks and coastal areas. And we have to make sure we always have the upper hand in the battle in any situation. So, the challenge is to make sure that soldiers give their best in all kinds of terrains. We are meeting these challenges, and we will continue to do so. I have faith in my Army, and I am sure you have too. The strength of the Indian Army is in the dedication of every soldier.”
“One more challenge that is emerging is that of anti-national elements. We are ready to face that too. The strategy to tackle this challenge will involve not just the Indian Army. The paramilitary forces, central armed police forces and the armed forces, including the Army, will fight it,” he added. The ‘military tattoo’ comprises combat demonstration, equipment display, martial arts display — including Kalaripayattu from Kerala, Gatka from Punjab and Malkhamb from Maharashtra — motorcycle stunts, a horse show, a dog show and a band display.
Two soldiers injured as jeep turns on it side
Two commandos of the Indian Army sustained injuries as the jeep they were in turned on its side during combat display on the eve of the 124th Raising Day of the Southern Command on Saturday. According to Army officials, the incident took place around 4.30 pm, when an Army jeep carrying commandos of a parachute regiment was entering the ground as other commandos were being airdropped.
“The jeep turned on its side at high speed after it brushed against a barricade. One soldier sustained injuries on the back while the other on his hands and leg. Both were rushed to Command hospital in an ambulance, which was on standby, and have undergone all primary investigations. Injuries are of non-serious nature,” an official said.
Another incident was reported during the event, when a para commando being airdropped had to use the secondary parachute as the primary chute malfunctioned. Also, during the event, fire tenders had to be called in as a small patch of ground, which had dry grass on it, caught fire. Within 10 minutes, the fire was brought under control, said an official.