It’s not only China where the Indian Army, Navy & Airforce have joined hands to battle the threat. The raging Covid-19 pandemic in India has claimed thousands of lives since and the country is struggling to contain the spread of the virus across the states.
And like all other calamities the nation faces, the armed forces of the country have stepped in to help fast-track the transportation of oxygen and other medical supplies to the hospitals across the country.
All three branches of the armed forces – Indian Air Force (IAF), Army and Navy – are engaged in a concerted effort to help reach medical facilities to the citizens of the country, at a time when the government is struggling to meet the challenge created by the double variant of the inexorable Covid-19 virus.
Indian Air Force
While the entire transport fleet of the IAF is busy transporting oxygen containers from manufacturing bases to the hospitals across the country, the Indian Navy ships have been ferrying similar medical material from different countries.
Other defense organizations such as the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) have been setting up makeshift hospitals across the country, using their technological expertise and manpower.
The IAF has deployed many assets in its transport aircraft, such as C-130s, C-17s, IL-76s to carry cryogenic oxygen containers from foreign as well as domestic sources to different cities in the country.
According to the IAF, as of May 2, its aircraft had carried out 192 domestic sorties and 30 foreign sorties airlifting oxygen containers. It further said that about 269 flying hours were dedicated to helping the country with the oxygen shortage.
IAF C-17s have been airlifting cryogenic oxygen containers from Frankfurt, Germany to Hindan airbase and oxygen cylinders from the UK to Chennai. Containers were also being lifted from airports in Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok and many other nations.
Meanwhile, a source in the IAF told EurAsian Times that the force was suspending leaves of personnel and recalling the off-duty airmen to their bases. He said the efforts to help the government were going on a war footing inside the air force and a significant amount of assets had been deployed to ferry essential medical material to civilian hospitals across the nation.
The ministry of defense approved around 50 Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) hospitals (42 Army, 5 Air Force and 3 Navy), designated as “Dedicated & Mixed COVID Hospitals” where besides the serving personnel, dependents and veterans, the civilians were allowed to be admitted based on various conditions set by the ministry.
The Indian army helped to move doctors and medical staff of the armed forces from across the country to Lucknow where the pandemic has taken a devastating turn.
The DRDO is currently setting up a 500-bed hospital in the city, with a facility for 150 ICU beds. “The construction of the facility and the testing of various equipment being done at a fast pace by DRDO and the doctors of the defense forces,” the army said in a statement.
— A. Bharat Bhushan Babu (@SpokespersonMoD) May 1, 2021
The Indian army also put out an appeal to the veteran officers of AFMS (Armed Forces Medical Services), requesting them to register themselves on the e-Sehat portal to offer their valuable services to countrymen through teleconsultation.
“The veterans constitute a large group of the armed forces family who have served the nation with honor and dignity. They are motivated highly trained professionals who still have a lot to offer for a national cause.”
“Hence, all veteran officers of armed forces medical services are requested to register themselves on e-Sehat portal wherein they can offer their guidance, counseling and advice to many of their fellow countrymen and help provide succor in this hour of need,” the appeal on the social media read.
The Indian Navy has deployed many of its assets into service, and according to its statement, seven warships were being used to ferry liquid oxygen and medical supplies from various countries. The navy said it was deploying another warship by Monday (May 3) to help in the Covid-19 operations.
On May 1, the navy sent INS Kochi, INS Trikand and INS Tabar to receive and carry liquid medical oxygen-filled cryogenic containers and associated medical equipment from multiple countries. The force had earlier deployed INS Kolkatta and INS Talwar in the Persian Gulf, which have now docked at their home ports.
INS Talwar was engaged to pick up liquid oxygen filed tanks from Manama, Bahrain, while INS Kolkata was sent to Doha, Qatar, for embarking medical supplies and will subsequently head to Kuwait for liquid oxygen tanks, the Navy said.
While helping the nation in the critical supply of oxygen and essential medicine, the armed forces have themselves have been battle-ready for the pandemic, with over 97 percent of personnel having received the first dose of the vaccination. According to reports, about 76 percent of them have received the second dose.
99 percent of personnel in the army are said to have received their first vaccine dose and 82 percent have received both doses.