President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said India is firmly committed to peace but is always prepared to deploy its military might to safeguard its sovereignty as he decorated two gallant IAF fighter aircraft squadrons at a strategic border airbase here.
Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, presented the President’s Standards to the 22nd and 18th Squadrons of the Indian Air Force operating the strike and combat superior MiG-27 aircraft to secure Indian skies along the eastern theatre during peace times and war.
The Squadrons are based here in Alipurduar district of West Bengal, strategically located right across the India-Bhutan border with the task to keep a vigil over the entire north east border skies of India.
“India’s increasing eminence in the comity of nations draws its strength from the capabilities of our armed forces.
Though we remain firmly committed to peace, we will use all our might to protect the sovereignty of the nation. I am confident that our valiant men and women in uniform will rise to the occasion,” the President said after he accorded the honours to the two strike formations of the IAF.
He lauded the air force by calling it the “cutting edge” of India’s military might and praised its men and women as he said the armed forces, “exemplified by the air warriors who stand before us, reflect our steely resolve to defend our interests.” The President’s Standards are given to armed forces’ units which render exceptional and dedicated service over a period of time.
Both the units which got the honours on Saturday have been doing so since 50 years now. While the 18th Squadron, called the ‘Flying Bullets’, was formed in 1965 in Ambala the 22nd Squadron was raised in 1966 in Bareilly and subsequently based at the Hasimara air force station.