Air Commodore J S Dhamoon, who was commanding the Pathankot air force base when it was attacked by heavily armed terrorists last year, has taken pre-mature retirement from service. IAF sources said Dhamoon chose to take “premature separation” from service even as the process of Court of Inquiry into possible lapses in security at the base was going on. They also rejected reports suggesting that Dhamoon was sacked after the CoI found holes in security at the frontline base which was attacked by Pakistan-based terrorists on January 2 last year. The IAF sources said the report of the CoI will go through various levels before its recommendations are accepted and action is taken based on them. “The process of Court of Inquiry is still on,” a source said. As per another source, Dhamoon took premature retirement a couple of months ago.
Dhamoon, Air Officer Commanding (AOC), had taken over the charge of the Pathankot air base in July, 2014 and he was transferred from the base less than two months after the terror attack. In the wake of the Pathankot terror attack, the IAF has been training selected people at its bases in Bhatinda in Punjab and Naliya in Gujarat on countering such strikes effectively. A security audit of defence bases was carried out on the recommendation of a committee headed by Lt Gen Philip Campose which was set up after the terror attack. The committee was asked to recommend measures to beef up security at the military bases. Following the security audit, revised standard operating procedures (SOPs) were sent to the commands of all three services to revamp their security management, including putting in place a multi-tier security structure.
A parliamentary panel had in March come down hard on the defence ministry for failing to take any concrete measures to beef up security at frontline military bases, and said the scenario is as “vulnerable” as has been “exposed” during the Uri and Pathankot terror attacks. The Campose Committee had submitted its report to Defence Ministry last May. The parliamentary panel had said security arrangements at military establishments were dynamic in nature and called for maintaining a robust and strong response mechanism to emerging threats. The three services had sought Rs 2,000 crore from the government to plug the gaps in security at their bases in the wake of the Pathankot terror attack.