May 29, 2024

Address of Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, AVSM, GOC-in-C, Northern Command, Indian Army

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By: Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd), GSDN

All award winning Commanding Officers and Subedar Majors with Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, AVSM, GOC-in-C Northern Command and the Corps Commanders during the Northern Command Investiture Ceremony: source HQ Northern Command

Given below is the address of Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army on the occasion of the Northern Command Investiture Ceremony (Phase-I) held in Srinagar on February 07, 2023. In the Investiture Ceremony, awards are presented to the deserving personnel and units for their bravery and professionalism.

The Northern Command of the Indian Army is a very important operational command which is entrusted with the defence of borders with China and Pakistan apart from tackling the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Army Commander presented Certificate of Appreciation and Unit Appreciation awards to nominated battalions deployed in Northern Command for their gallant action towards protecting territorial integrity of the nation and in carrying cut counter terrorist operations resulting in overall improvement in the security situation in J&K.

The day before the ceremony, a cultural programme was organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regimental Centre in Srinagar. A variety of song and dance performances by Chinar Band mesmerized the audience, which comprised of personnels from Units being awarded. Army Commander complimented the band for the enthralling performances.

The investiture ceremony witnessed an august gathering of Army personnel and many distinguished civilian personalities. The Army Commander, in his address, welcomed the distinguished guests and expressed the pride and honour that he felt in “sharing the moment of distinction and glory with our gallant awardees”. He further extended his compliments to the battalions for their inspiring acts in the highest traditions of the Indian Army. Speaking on the occasion, the Army Commander Commended all ranks of Northern Command for their dedication and devotion to duty in the highest traditions of the Indian Army. He also conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to the brave men who made the supreme sacrifice while facing adverse situations. The General Officer also brought out that the ‘Whole of Nation Approach’ has led to the progressive improvement in the security situation in J&K and Ladakh.

The Army Commander further added that Northern Command is in a high state of readiness to face the constantly evolving threats and challenges. He assured the Nation that the Northern Command is prepared to meet all challenges posed by multiple threats from volatile adversaries. He emphasised upon the ‘Whole of Nation Approach’ to meet the challenges and thus reposed full faith in the support forthcoming from the Union Government and the nation at large.

In the end General Dwivedi expressed his gratitude to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the civil administration and the media for their unstinted support and wished for peace and contentment for the people of this region.

Commanding Officer and Subedar Major of the 9th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment receiving the Unit Citation from the Army Commander during the Northern Command Investiture Ceremony: source HQ Northern Command

The text of the speech of the Army Commander is given below –

At the time of the earthquake in Turkey, we stand with the affected people. Indian Armed Forces have extended their support for the earthquake victims.

I extend my warm greetings and welcome to all Commanding Officers, Subedar Majors, JCOs, brave soldiers, ladies and gentlemen & friends from the media to the Northern Command Investiture Ceremony.

It is a matter of immense honour for me to be  presiding  over  the  first  segment  of  the Investiture Ceremony at Srinagar. This event is to commend the inspirational acts of bravery, commitment and sacrifice, in the true traditions of Indian Army, by selected units of Northern Command which has contributed to stability along the LC and LAC.

I begin by assuring everyone that Northern Command is in a high state of readiness and morale, to face constantly evolving threats and challenges. The security situation in Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh poses many challenges in terrain and operational dynamics, especially from different adversaries along the Northern and Western Borders. We are committed to defending India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity while upholding the democratic traditions of the Nation. We are maintaining a constant vigil, monitoring all developments and will take all necessary steps to protect our National Interests. Indian Army is prepared to meet any challenges in the future and will always work for the betterment of the people of the Region.  The last two years have brought to the fore newer challenges in the wake of abrogation of Article 370, the Galwan conflict and multiple waves of COVID-19. These challenges have only served to strengthen our resolve to be steadfast and determined in our commitment.

The situation along the LC has remained stable and the Cease Fire Understanding continues to sustain. A very strict vigil and a robust technology enabled multi-tiered counter infiltration grid is being maintained, to thwart any attempts at infiltration. CF violations, infiltration bids or any other misadventure attempted by the adversary will be dealt with firmly. Numerous infiltration bids have been foiled in the last year. The highest standards of professionalism and jointness displayed by the troops in all dimensions of Counter Terror Operations has nullified/ limited the kinetic threat.

Kashmir has witnessed a concerning rise in narco-terrorism, as Pakistan is now using this as a new tool  in its  proxy war.  Of late, a dual strategy of sending across drugs as well      as weapons through drones is being employed to keep the fire burning in an attempt to disrupt the social fabric. The cross-border smuggling of narcotics provides a succor to terrorism. The Security Forces are alive to this trend and have already initiated counter drone measures to curb the menace.

Our focus continues to reinforce our intelligence setup by synergising with all stakeholders & sister agencies, to usher in peace and undertake developmental activities. The overall situation is progressively improving and a positive and conducive environment for accelerating the developmental initiatives of the government has been created. The dividends of peace and stability are reaching people in far flung areas and they are participating wholeheartedly to preserve and sustain this peace.

On the LAC, our response to Chinese attempts to unilaterally change the status quo was a swift, undaunted and synergised action by the Indian Armed Forces. Any adverse aggressive designs or attempts will definitely be met with appropriate posturing of Forces and a strong intent with complete synergy amongst the three services. Measures to resolve the LAC situation at diplomatic and operational levels are also simultaneously underway.  I assure you that  the LAC in Eastern Ladakh is being dominated by physical patrolling and through technical means and our territorial integrity is being ensured. Restoration of peace and tranquility to enable progress in bilateral relations has been and will remain our constant endeavour.

Progressive initiatives for coordination and synergy with paramilitary  forces  such as the ITBP and BSF have also  borne  the  desired  results.  Coordination training, exercises and operational tasks are being undertaken jointly to streamline procedures and enhance our ability to robustly defend our borders. As a consequence, all patrolling, along the LAC is now joint and integrated.

In line with the ‘Nari Shakti’ initiative, Northern Command has taken lead in efforts to empower women. Recently, the first woman officer was deployed on Siachen Glacier and has now become a source of inspiration for all of us.

The Government has been extremely supportive in ensuring the availability of best weapon systems, equipment and clothing to our troops, who are braving extreme weather and hostile conditions. I am very happy to inform you that Indian Armed Forces have accelerated the achievement of goal of a “Self-Reliant India”. I wish to state that ‘Modernisation through Indigenisation’ is our mantra and recent efforts in this direction such as ‘Techno Commanders Seminar’ or the ‘North Tech Symposium’ are steps towards enabling us to prepare for all challenges and adopting technology in an efficient manner. Induction of indigenous modern weapons and equipment enhances our combat capability tremendously. Several weapons and equipment have been inducted through ‘Hand Holding’ in the ‘Made-in-India’ sector. We have enhanced our firepower through the induction of K9 VAJRA and DHANUSH artillery gun systems; while improvement in mobility has been affected by the arrival of IPMV, QRFV and LCA Patrolling boats. Surveillance resources have been enhanced.

Infrastructure Development and Logistics are important components of our Operational Preparedness. We have made significant improvement in this regard through our combined efforts with the local administration and other agencies. Over the last three years, infrastructure worth about Rs 1500 Crores has been created to cater for the billeting of new raisings units and accretional forces, that are deployed every year for the safety of our borders. Additionally, more than 800 Kms of new roads have been constructed in line with the GATISHAKTI Initiative at the National level thereby alleviating the remoteness of this region.

Special clothing in seven layers and mountaineering equipment are being indigenized to increase the capability of soldiers in HAA. The study of Intermittent Oxygen Inhalation, has been initiated with an aim to improve the overall health conditions in acclimatization of combat soldiers, deployed for more than one year in HAA.

Pan-India Project of Network for Spectrum has reached completion in last one year and approximately 57% of this project is rolled out in the UTs  of  Jammu- Kashmir and Ladakh. Apart from infusion of hi-tech and expertise, it has resulted in employment opportunities for technicians, civil contractors, labourers, engineers and support staff from the remote areas on both temporary and permanent basis. The Army has in conjunction with the Ministry of Communication identified 144 villages in remote areas of Ladakh and Jammu-Kashmir for installation of 4G/ 5G towers. Assistance in terms of sharing tower space and support infrastructure is being provided to telecom service providers, so that this critical facility reaches population residing in remote border villages.

Besides the operational challenges on the LAC, LC and Hinterland, we remain committed to providing succor in times of natural disasters such as landslides, COVID and other natural calamities. I also take this opportunity to laud the efforts of the  COVID  warriors  whose relentless efforts have kept us protected in these testing times. Needless to say, that “there is nothing nobler than reaching out and alleviating the lives of people”. On an annual basis, over 250 medical and 100 veterinary camps are conducted in the remotest areas of the UTs, which benefit thousands of lives and livestock. We are encouraging and facilitating graziers to move to their traditional grazing areas in Eastern Ladakh including those located close to the LAC.

Op SADBHAVANA has bridged the gap between the Armed Forces and the Awam resulting in a better Civil-Military integration and coordination. This has been achieved through well-orchestrated developmental works in conjunction with civil administration and assisting grassroot level development activities in far flung areas. A participative approach by all stakeholders combined with integration of all agencies to enhance development, improved educational facilities and employment opportunities for the youth will result in fulfilling the aspirations of the people.

Northern Command manages 43 AGS {26,125 students passed out so far, 55 MBBS, 21 BDS, 32 Engg (IIT/IIIT), 172 Pvt Engg Colleges, 88 NIT}, have introduced programs such as Super 50 Medical and Engineering (241 selected), provided educational scholarships to 1800 students and part\y funded higher education in universities and institutes outside  J&K.  We have established a network of skill development centers (beneficiaries 31,000), enabling youth to upgrade their skills on entrepreneurship, employment generation schemes. Sports activities (2100 events 94,000 participants) and competitions coupled with cultural activities form the core of creative youth engagement. Women empowerment efforts are embedded in almost all initiatives and girls are showing encouraging signs of benefitting from these.

A unique initiative namely SAHI RAASTA, in collaboration with the UT Government  has enabled structured rehabilitation programmes for about 150 youth and prevented them from being influenced by radical elements and being recruited by terrorist groups.

Northern Command Green Energy Initiatives have resulted in 12,300 Kg/Hr reduction of carbon footprint in the last year.  Active participation in saving the environment from pollution is been ensured. In the past years, about 8 MW solar power projects have been installed and 54 Solar Energy Project is in progress, thus generating 11,600 KW of Renewable Energy. Hydrogen Energy Project is being planned in collaboration with NTPC. Under Mission Amrit Sarovar (an Indian Army initiative to rejuvenate upto 450 ponds Pan-India by 15 August 2023) in Northern Command 75 lakes are being developed, while over one lakh trees have been planted as part of the Green India Initiative. Carbon Neutral Habitats for troops in High Altitude is a pioneer  effort undertaken by Northern Command and is a first in the Indian Army.

The ubiquitous presence of Security Forces in the UTs ensures significant annual contribution to the local economy (through personal purchases and expenditure through various funds). Some prominent sources of revenue generation, as  also  livelihood  is  through agricultural & dairy produce, transport contracts, construction activities and hiring of Porters & Ponies.

We are proud to have created the required security condition for the successful resumption and conduct of the Sri Amarnath and Sri Machal Mata Yatras. Our committed approach to security has provided an opportunity for thousands of people across the Country  and the UT of Jammu-Kashmir to visit the holy Shrine.

During the Cloud Burst calamity of Sri Amarnath Yatra,  medical support was provided to the needy through creation of two 15 bedded hospitals and 10 Medical Aid Posts consisting 25 medical officers and 250 paramedical staff. The medical relief operations ensured treatment of thousands of patients including timely evacuations by road and air. We have on numerous occasions come to the rescue of tourists, stranded & affected, by  the  vagaries  of  harsh weather and terrain.

We are now working concertedly  with  UT  Government  of  Ladakh  to facilitate tourism in the border areas and encouraging of the immense potential that this beautiful part of the country possesses.

I also take this occasion as an opportunity to exhort all ranks of Northern Command to  be prepared for variety of challenges on the internal and external security front. I wish to reiterate that “Our Flag does not fly because of the  winds that move it; it flies with the last  breath of soldiers who have sacrificed themselves protecting it”. The Nation looks up to us in times of crisis and we have to live up to the hopes and trust reposed on us by  our  countrymen. I urge the involvement and cooperation of all stakeholders in implementing the new dynamic “Agnipath Scheme” and in guiding the “Agniveers” for performing to their optimum potential.

Being an important pillar of Comprehensive National Power of the Nation, it is the responsibility of the Indian Army that we should always be prepared. It  is  imperative  that Northern Command remains fully aligned and integrated with national goals and objectives  and  in doing so it is committed to achieve jointness and integration with our sister services the IAF and IN. We must ensure that from the security point of view there should be no hindrance in the Nation Building Process.

The lessons from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War have brought forth many lessons such as the employment of Disruptive and Dual Use Technologies. Information Warfare, Cyber and Space have emerged as new domains of warfare. Gray Zone Warfare in both the Kinetic and Non-Kinetic domains is a challenge and we have adapted well to the ambiguities associated with these strategies. It is essential that we equip ourselves, progressively factor and consider these peculiarities to facilitate better and more effective war fighting.

 On this momentous occasion, I also wish to express my gratitude to the people of Jammu and

Kashmir and Ladakh, the civil administration and the media for their unstinted support. I reiterate that a participative approach by all stakeholders will allow us to address the daunting challenges that we face in front of us. We wish a brighter future for all.

In the end, I pray to almighty for peace and contentment for the people of this region.  The ‘Whole of Nation’ approach had resulted in a progressive improvement in the security situation in Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh. The extraordinary zeal and motivation among all ranks reassures me that the security of our borders is in safe and assured hands.


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