IAF head offers advice to army chief on age row

July 26th, 2011 - 8:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) “You must do whatever you feel is right,” is the advice Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik has given to Army Chief General V.K. Singh over the controversy on the latter’s age.

The advice was given as a friend. Both come from the same Hunter squadron of the Khadakvasla-based National Defence Academy (NDA). Along with Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, they come from the same squadron and trained together at the NDA four decades ago.

Now the three are members of the chiefs of staff committee (COSC) that is chaired by the senior-most among them, which is Naik.

“In the chiefs of staff committee, there are the three of us. We are all from the Hunter squadron in NDA. We have a tremendous spirit of cooperation and friendship amongst us, in spite of seniority gaps.

“I have given him one advice… you must do whatever you feel is right. He is a friend, what else can I tell him,” Naik, retiring this month-end, said at his farewell press conference here.

He was asked what advice he had given the army chief on the age controversy, being the senior-most military officer in the country and as the chairman of the COSC.

The army chief’s date of birth was in doubt. There were two different set of records May 10, 1951 and May 10, 1950.

After Singh wanted it to be 1951, the defence ministry consulted the law ministry. Last week it decided that 1950 should be considered as the year of the army chief’s birth for all official purposes.

The issue sparked a controversy as a change in the records to 1951 would have upset the succession plans in the 1.13-million-strong force.

Since 1950 has been decided the year of Singh’s birth, the present Eastern Army Commander, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, is slated to succeed him, being the senior most army officer when the incumbent retires in May 2012.

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