New Delhi: Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande said that the situation with China at the northern borders is “stable, but unpredictable” at an event organized by the Chanakya Forum in New Delhi Saturday. The General’s comments came as he gave an update on the state of affairs at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where Indian and Chinese troops have been at a standoff since early 2020.
The army chief maintained that they were not dropping the guard at the northern borders despite the transformational changes the army is taking — in both technology and procurement through the ‘Atmanirbhrata’ (self-reliance) route, and human resources via the new Agniveer recruitment scheme.
“Operational management at borders is unaffected despite these transformational changes,” clarified General Pande. Troop deployment and strength, sustenance, equipment, and supplies are all in the best capacity at borders, he added.
India and China had completed disengagement at the Gogra-Hot Springs area in eastern Ladakh in September. However, there was no resolution over the Depsang and Demchok areas.
In October, the two countries had agreed to hold the 17th round of senior commander-level talks at the earliest to “resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in the western sector in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols”.
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Ready to transition to winter posture
Alluding to the importance of dialogue to find a solution, the army chief said, “The talks that have been going on at the military, political, and diplomatic level have been central to resolution. Through these talks, we were able to find a solution to five out of the seven friction points.”
He added that they hope a solution can be found over the remaining points through the next round of talks.
“However, there has been no reduction in the PLA’s [People’s Liberation Army] strength at the LAC,” explained General Pande.
Further, the Indian army is ready to transition to a winter posture at the LAC, while having also ensured that they have adequate reserves to deal with any contingencies, he added.
“In the larger context, we need to carefully calibrate our actions at the LAC to safeguard both our interests and sensitivities,” he said.
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The need for self reliance
“We are undertaking transformations to make the army modern, a future-ready force, and one that is ready to meet contemporary and future challenges at the battlefield,” General Pande said while unpacking the philosophy underpinning the Atmanirbharta route and Agniveer scheme.
Further, disruptions to supply chains via Covid-19, the changing nature of warfare as shown by the Ukraine-Russia war, and changes in India’s geostrategic environment have further pushed the needle on the Indian Army’s reform agenda, the army chief added.
“We have to become self-reliant for the Indian Army’s sustenance, procurement, and supplies,” he added.
(Edited by Theres Sudeep)
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