Chennai, Dec 18 (IANS) Achievement of India's foreign policy goal of peace is based on the its defence policy of "effective deterrence" which, in turn, necessitates maintenance of a force to protect the country's sovereignty, President Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday.
Mukherjee was speaking at a function at the Indian Air Force's (IAF) station at Sulur near Coimbatore to present the Presidential Standard to the IAF's 25 Squadron and 33 Squadron.
"India stands for peace and its foreign policy is focused on the achievement of this objective. Therefore, effective deterrence is the cornerstone of our defence policy," Mukherjee said.
"Effective deterrence requires the maintenance of a force that can be called upon at any time to secure the sovereignty of our nation. Our armed forces, of which the men and women who stand before us, symbolises, this capability," Mukherjee added.
He said the 25 and 33 Squadrons have a rich tradition of valour and courage and have rendered distinguished service to the nation since their inception.
Praising the IAF, which has been in existence for over 80 years, Mukherjee said it has grown into "one of the most powerful and professional forces in the world, capable of facing any threat to our national integrity".
He said the operational capability of the IAF constitutes an important cutting edge of the nation's military strength. Besides safeguarding the nation, the IAF has always been available for humanitarian assistance during disasters within and outside the country.
"I remember that the air force had flown relief supplies in 2005 to as far as the US when (hurricane) Katrina had struck New Orleans. In 2008, the Indian Air Force flew relief supplies to the earthquake hit south-western province of Sichuan in China," Mukherjee said.
"Our air warriors have also been selected to be a part of UN peacekeeping missions. This is a testimony to your capabilities, discipline and excellence," he added.
Lauding the 25 Squadron, Mukherjee said "the Himalayan Eagles" have been the lifeline of the armed forces, personnel and citizens in the northern frontiers for over five decades, in times of peace as well as war.
During the 1965 and 1971 wars and Kargil operations, aircraft of the 25 Squadron airlifted critical supplies for troops and performed some very important operations, he said.
"The 33 Squadron is a premier transport squadron of the Indian Air Force that participated in both the 1965 and 1971 wars and also played a major role in the Indian Peace Keeping Force operations in Sri Lanka in 1989," he said.