Thursday, October 04, 2007

Indian Army: The peacekeepers

INDIAN TROOPS have taken part in some of the most difficult operations, and have suffered casualties in the service of the UN professional excellence of the Indian troops has won universal admiration. India has taken part in the UN peacekeeping operations in four continents. It most significant contribution has been to peace and stability in Africa and Asia.

It has demonstrated its unique capacity of sustaining large troop commitments over prolonged periods. Presently, India is ranked among the largest and most reliable Troop Contributor Nations to the UN. India has also offered one brigade of troops to the UN Stand by Arrangements.

India has always contributed generously to UN demands for peacekeeping. Known for their equanimity and forbearance, Indian troops have proved popular everywhere. The first call came early enough, when India sent troops to Korea to form the Custodian Force (India), which functioned under the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission headed by Major General (later General) KS Thimayya, DSO in 1953-54.

This was a delicate task, involving the repatriation of Prisoners of War. This was followed by a stint at Gaza to keep Israeli and Egyptian forces apart

The largest (and longest serving) contingent was sent to the Congo in 1961. A complete independent brigade group, it helped bring about peace and thereafter enforce it — which involved light to heavy engagements with motley groups beefed up by white mercenary columns.

India has sent battalion groups, engineers, medical teams, mil observers and staff personnel to Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Lebanon and Ethiopia.

Observers and staff personnel have made their contributions to the international peace efforts in Central America, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait, Liberia, Lebanon, Mozambique and Congo.

After Korea (1950-52) and Congo (1960-63), India again sent a brigade group to Somalia and displayed its resolve to support international community in peace and security issues.

India’s largest peace-keeping challenge came in mid-1987 when in Sri Lanka the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was forced into battling for the political hub of Tamil militant resistance - Jaffna city.

The Indian Army’s participation in the UN peacekeeping operations spans a period of 50 years covering more than 29 UN Missions, in which over fifty thousand Indian soldiers have served in various parts of the world.

In support of UN peacekeeping endeavours, the Indian Army has contributed outstanding force commanders, elite military contingents, impartial observers and dedicated staff officers. Their devotion to duty and excellent performance has been widely acclaimed.

21 Corps bid farewell to its Chief of Staff Maj Gen and Mrs RK Chhabra. Maj General RK Chhabra is proceeding on a promotion posting to Tezpur to take over the command of the Corps. We wish the General and his family a happy and fruitful tenure. We also express our deep gratitude to General Chabbra for being Olive Green’s staunchest support right from the day one. His unfaltering faith in us has brought Olive Green to the heights it has reached today.

Letter from a reader
After reading the recent article on Army Wives, I felt the need to convey a very deep feeling that I have in my heart. I have figured out that you have strength within you that holds life together in the darkest of hours, a strength of which I will never possess. The faith you have is what makes you stand out in a crowd. Honestly, I never thought much about you until recently.

I realise that you are a stronger person than I will ever be because I have never had a sleepless night of worry because of a report that another bomb has exploded and I still haven’t heard from my husband. I have never had to wait for months on end to hold the one that I loved so. I have never had to hold my head high and suppress the tears as I hear that it will be at least another six months of separation before my loved one gets to come home.

I just wanted to take the time today to say thank you to you and your family for allowing me that freedom. I will never be able to repay this debt to you, as it is unmatchable. However, I hope that you know that no matter where you are...what you are doing...what has happened today...or what will happen tomorrow... You are all in my prayer’s everyday and I pray that God will bring you back together with your loved one safely.

Indian Army: The peacekeepers- Hindustan Times