Armed Forces understand their responsibility in Covid-19 fight: Gen Rawat
General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) says that the armed forces understand their responsibility in the fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and have to ensure that they remain safe to support the people of the country.
"As armed forces, we understand our responsibility that at this time when the nation is fighting against Covid-19 menace, the defence services must operate beyond the mandate and come to the support of our people and government in whatever way we can," General Rawat told ANI in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
He added that for the forces to support the country, they have to first ensure that 'we remain safe from Covid-19.
"In order to do so, we have to first ensure that we remain safe from Covid-19 because if our own sailors, soldiers and airmen get affected by this virus, how are we going to support our people," he added.
General Rawat said that strict directions have been issued to the armed forces on social distancing, wearing of masks and ensuring that people who need to be isolated remain in quarantine.
Twenty five Indian Navy personnel and eight Army personnel including two doctors and one nursing assistant have so far tested positive for coronavirus.
According to Navy sources, the reported cases are asymptomatic and were traced to one sailor who tested positive on April 7. Twenty of these sailors are from INS Angre, a shore establishment in Mumbai. The navy men have been admitted in naval hospital INHS Asvini in Mumbai's Colaba after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
Speaking about the Covid-19 cases in military, General Rawat said discipline and patience has helped the armed forces in preventing the spread of disease.
"Covid-19 has affected the three services in a very limited number. I would say that this is the discipline and patience which has helped us in preventing the spread of the menace," he said.
The CDS said that armed forces personnel have downloaded the Aarogya Setu app and if anyone contracts the disease, authorities would be able to pick up the case very soon and ensure that the disease doesn't spread.
With Covid-19 cases spreading at a fast rate across the country, the army has said all its personnel will be classified as 'green' (who have completed 14 days of quarantine), 'yellow' (those who need to undergo 14 days quarantine) and lastly, 'red' (who are symptomatic and require isolation and further treatment in Covid hospitals).
Referring to the nationwide lockdown, in place till May 3, General Rawat said that this is not the time to be impatient.
"We do know when the country is under lockdown and (when) people are told to stay indoors, they tend to become impatient. This is not the time to be impatient. Patience is very important to ensure that we remain disciplined. Maintaining discipline in armed forces is not very difficult as we are accustomed to be in discipline but to maintain patience is the need of the hour," he said.
On the operational preparedness of the armed forces, the CDS said that India's military is capable of undertaking any operational task assigned to it.
"Whatever budget has been given to us, we must spend it pragmatically, avoiding any wasteful expenditure. We don't see any major drop in our operational preparedness as far as the three services are concerned," General Rawat said.
"Covid-19 has taught us a lesson that the time has come to be self-reliant."
In India, when we are looking at becoming a regional power, we'll have to support others and not be dependent on others. It becomes important we support Make in India (programme) and ensure that whatever (weapons systems) we are importing, gradually we get it through Make in India," General Rawat said.
(Inputs and image from hindustantimes.com)