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Air chief calls for enhanced security ties among SAARC, ASEAN

New Delhi: Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), has pitched for increased cooperation and collective action among SAARC and ASEAN countries in the exchange of information, building of infrastructure and strengthening of capabilities.

Speaking at a gathering of fellow Defence Chiefs from ASEAN, SAARC and the observers from China, Russia and the USA in Malaysia, Raha also emphasised on the use of technology by armed forces.

Talking on the subject of ‘Regional Security Environment’, the air chief said that a broad scan of the evolving geo- political environment clearly indicates a pre-eminent shift in global strategic centre of gravity to the Asia-Pacific regions.

“We hope to see increased cooperation and collective action to exchange information, build infrastructure and strengthen capabilities.

“In this manner, we would gain from each others strengths and understand each other better for lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the ASEAN region,” he said.

Pointing to challenges, the air chief talked about exploitation of technology by the armed forces. In this regard, he mentioned that DRDO is working towards self- reliance in defence systems and strategic independence.

On promoting affordable and cogent military solutions, he said that India has decided to accelerate indigenous defence manufacturing through its ‘Make in India’ initiative.

He went on to say that the initiative has already given a boost to the Indian defence industries for manufacture of ships, artillery guns, aircraft, repair and overhaul, radars, sensors, communication system, etc.

Raha said that the Indian Armed Forces, being the third largest military force, has the largest volunteers’ army.

“The professionalism and the apolitical nature of the Indian Armed Forces is a major stabilising factor in the Indian subcontinent.

“The terrain and climate in India is quite diverse and offers a unique opportunity to our armed forces to train and operate in some of the most hostile environments in the world. India has the highest air field in the world — DBO in the mighty Himalayas at an elevation of 17,000ft — 2 lakh sq.Km of deserts, inhospitable tropical forest in the northeast, and vast coastline with added challenges posed by high humidity, salinity and corrosion,” he noted