Army chief backs Anna: Military overreach?

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Army chief backs Anna: Military overreach?
New Delhi:  It's not usual for a service chief to speak on developments that are not his immediate concern. But that did not stop Army chief, General VK Singh, from expressing his opinion on Anna Hazare's movement at a function in Mumbai last week.

"We are witnessing the power of democracy, the power of the people," General Singh said.

Many feel this was out of turn as were some other comments leading to questions about a possible disconnect between the civilian and military leadership of the country.

In July 2010, General Singh indicated that the political leadership had been lacking in Kashmir.

"Kashmir situation has been tense for quite some time. And the reasons are many. The basic reason is that we have not built up on the gains that we've made to our advantage," General Singh said.

Naturally, the state government hit back with National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah saying the Army chief had no business talking about policy matters.

Next came the then Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik's curt response to Home Minister P Chidambaram's suggestion in April 2010  that his men needed air force back up in Naxal areas.

"The weapons we have are meant for the enemy across the border. So, I'm not in favour of using Air Force in Naxal areas," the Air Force chief said.

But controversies that took on international proportions were those generated by the then Air Force chief's warning to Pakistan against a nuclear strike. And before that, Army chief's claim that India too could carry out a Geronimo-type operation.

"If the situation should ever arise then any of the three armed forces are capable of conducting a similar operation," General VK Singh said on July 12, 2011.

Some of the controversial comments have come in response to questions from the media and raises the question - what should the service chiefs do in the age of 24x7 news when mikes are thrust in their faces and a no comment is rarely accepted.

The latest controversy is the public battle over Army chief's age where General Singh has taken the unprecedented step of filing a statutory complaint with the Defence Minister.



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