Pathankot attack: airbase head takes premature retirement

Pathankot attack: airbase head takes premature retirement
Air Commodore J S Dhamoon, who was the commanding officer of the Pathankot airbase during last year’s terror strike, has taken premature retirement.

His retirement came after a Court of Inquiry (CoI) by the Indian Air Force reportedly indicted him for security breaches of the forward base and handling of the situation during the three-day operation in January 2016, in which six terrorists and seven security personnel were killed. As many as 25 defence personnel were injured.

Since the CoI is yet to be formally concluded even after a year, officials in the defence ministry and the IAF remained tight-lipped on the findings of the probe.

When the CoI began, Dhamoon was transferred from the airbase for an unbiased probe. The report, sources said, was with the Western Air Command at the moment.

“The CoI process is still on and only after it is finalised, anything more can be said. The process goes through various levels before it is accepted and any recommended action is implemented,” an IAF source said.

Poor preparedness to deal with such exigencies also came under the scanner with the CoI raising fingers at improper lighting and incorrect positioning of the security men to guard the outer perimeter of the airbase spread over 25 sq km.

Thick undergrowth inside and outside the airbase and inadequate manning of stormwater drains flowing into the air base also found mention in the probe report, sources said.

The undergrowth provided cover to the terrorists, who climbed a tree to gain access into the airbase, thereby avoiding the barbed wires installed on the perimeter wall. The capability of the Garud commandos to protect the base was also questioned.

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