Strong defence force needed to keep India's commitment to peace: President

Jamnagar: India is committed to peace for which it needs an "effective deterrence" and a "strong defence force," President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Friday.

"India is firmly committed to peace and equality for which we need an effective deterrence and a strong defence force," he said.

The president said the country is striving hard for economic growth, but remains "equally focused" on capacity building of its armed forces.

"The nation is striving hard for all-round economic growth and social empowerment of its citizen. However, we remain equally focused on building capacity to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity," Mukherjee said.

He said the armed forces give the country the confidence in its ability to face any aggression.

The president was at the Jamnagar airbase to present the President's Standard to the 119 Helicopter Unit and President's Colours to the 28 Equipment Depot of the Indian Air Force (IAF). One of the premier flying units of the IAF, the 119 Helicopter Unit boasts of the country's latest helicopter Mi-17 V5.

The Unit, also known as "The Stallions" and the first to fly Mi-8 choppers, will receive the award on its 45th Raising Day.

The unit has been part of many operations, including relief work in Nepal after the April 2015 earthquake, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the relief and rescue operations after the 2004 tsunami, Operation Cactus in 1988 to stop the attempted coup in Maldives, Operation Pawan - the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operation in Sri Lanka's Jaffna in 1987, the counter insurgency operations in Nagaland, and Operation Falcon along China's border in Arunachal Pradesh.

So far, the Unit has received one Vir Chakra, five Shaurya Chakras, four Yudh Seva medals, one Vishisht Seva medal, and 10 Vayu Sena Medals.

The 28 Equipment Depot maintains explosive ordnance stores. It has played an important role in supplying ammunition in the 1965 India-China war, as well as the 1999 Kargil conflict.

The Depot has been a trend-setter in innovation and has successfully modified the life-expired live missiles into its training version.

The Depot is a one stop solution provider for all Russian-origin guided weapons and ammunition and carried out the maintenance and warranty resting, modification and repairs.

The award of the President's colours and standard is one of the greatest honours bestowed upon an air force unit or squadron in recognition of exceptional service rendered by it to the nation, both during war and in peace.

Jamnagar is one of the frontline airbases of the IAF on the Gujarat coast and close to India's border with Pakistan.

The base has squadrons of fighter jets Jaguar and Mig-29 and Chetak helicopters along with the Mi-17 V5 helicopters.