Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa has written a personal letter to each member of the Air Force asking them “to be prepared for operations with our present holdings, at a very short notice”, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. The letter, dated March 30, has been posted to each of the more than 12,000 Air Force personnel in the country.

The decision to send such a letter to all personnel is a first in the IAF, although it had been done by two Army chiefs before, the report added. “In the present scenario, there is an ever persistent sub-conventional threat. Therefore, we need to be prepared for operations with our present holdings, at a very short notice,” the report quoted the letter as saying.

In the candid missive, Dhanoa also talked about sexual harassment and favouritism within the force. Both, he said, would not be tolerated and were detrimental to the well-being of officers and the effective functioning of the force. Dhanoa said the Air Force had been “witness to a few instances of favouritism in selection of officers for prime assignments and promotions” and that this was something it could “ill afford”, the report added. “Abusive behaviour, resorting to physical intimidation and behaviour amounting to sexual harassment by seniors is not acceptable,” the letter said.

Dhanoa, who took over as Air Chief Marshal three months ago, also reiterated that officers would be judged only on performance and not on their families’ participation in the activities of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association and Ladies Clubs. Participation in these social groups was strictly voluntary, Dhanoa added.

The Air Force, when contacted by the English daily, described the letter as “internal communication” and refused to comment on it.