Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, the Chief of Air Staff, has written a personal letter to each officer in the Indian Air Force (IAF), asking the officers “to be prepared for operations with our present holdings, at a very short notice”.
“In the present scenario, there is an ever persistent sub-conventional threat. Therefore, we need to be prepared for operations with our present holdings, at a very short notice. Training needs to be focused towards this,” says the letter.
The “sub-conventional threat” is said to be a reference to the ‘proxy war’ by the Pakistan, which is reflected in the increasing number of terror attacks on military camps and the rising public unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.
The mention in the letter of “our present holdings” is an indication of the severe shortfall in the number of fighter squadrons with the IAF.
The IAF is authorised for 42 squadrons of fighter aircraft but its current holding is down to 33.
A deal for 36 Rafale fighters, signed with France, and a decision to induct indigenous Tejas fighters will barely make up for the de-induction of the MIG series of fighters from the fleet.
Asking officers to be “combat effective professionals”, ACM Dhanoa wrote that “There is no choice but to stay abreast of new technological advancements both own as well as that of our adversaries. Only then will we come out with war-winning, out of the box solutions.”
The letter also covered a range of issues from “favouritism” in the force to “sexual harassment”.
The letter reminds officers that “in the recent past, there have been instances and occasions where lack of professionalism has shown the IAF in poor light”.