The Indian Defence sector had its fair share of highs and lows - mostly highs - in 2019. These moments include the strategic airstrikes carried out at the terror camps in Pakistan to the creation of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post. The year also witnessed various bilateral defence ties with other countries over defence matters.
The year 2019 began with a remarkable decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25. He dedicated the National War Memorial near India Gate to the nation. The memorial has been erected in the memory of soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation after India became independent in 1947.
The very next day on February 26, India struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot, Pakistan. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders, and jihadis who were being trained for Fidayeen action were eliminated. It was a response to the February 14, 2019 suicide terror attack, conducted by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad in which over 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
Following the Balakot strike on February 26, the capture of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was a moment of worry for Indian Armed Forces. He was later released and awarded for his bravery of shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft.
On June 18, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced the restoration of the ''ration in kind'' for the officers of the three Armed Forces posted in peace areas. Singh also gave in-principle approval to the four-fold enhancement of monetary assistance to next of kin of all categories of battle casualties from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 8 lakh.
In October, there was a red-letter day in the history of Indian Air Force when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh participated in the Rafale fighter aircraft handing over ceremony at Merignac in France. The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft makes India stronger and gives a boost to its air dominance to ensure peace and security in the region.
Singh also flew the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) ''Tejas'' at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Airport in Bengaluru, on September 2019. Earlier he had also handed over Medium-Range Surface-to-Air-Missiles to IAF at the Bharat Dynamics Limited premises in Hyderabad on August 3.
In a landmark decision this year, the government created the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the rank of a four-star General. The CDS will also head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), to be created within the Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary. This follows the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2019, in his address to the nation where he said "India should not have a fragmented approach. Our entire military power will have to work in unison and move forward."
(With inputs from agencies)