Every move made by China will be met resolutely, says Army Chief General Naravane

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Updated: Feb 25, 2021 12:01 PM

The ongoing disengagement process of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh was a “win-win situation” for both sides, says the Indian Army Chief.

Army Chief General NaravaneThe Army Chief Gen MM Naravane was speaking at a talk organized by Vivekananda International Foundation on the Role of Indian Army in Dealing with National Security Challenges on Wednesday February 24, 2021. (File photo: IE)

The ongoing disengagement process of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh was a “win-win situation” for both sides, says the Indian Army Chief.

However, he cautions that there was “still a long way to go” before de-escalation of conflict in the theatre and eventual de-induction of the PLA soldiers can be achieved through talks.

The Army Chief Gen MM Naravane was speaking at a talk organized by Vivekananda International Foundation on the Role of Indian Army in Dealing with National Security Challenges on Wednesday February 24, 2021.

Responding to questions on the border standoff at the end of his talk, Gen Naravane stated “The talks had a good outcome, disengagement is a very good result.” Adding, “Every move will be met resolutely.”

“China has been in the habit of making small incremental moves like in the South China Sea which were not challenged. But the Ladakh Standoff has shown that this strategy will not work with India,” the Chief said.

Phase I of Disengagement completed at Pangong Tso Lake

The Army Chief stated that the outcome at the end of the 10th round of talks was good. But, there are still some issues which are pending in Eastern Ladakh as well as other parts of Line of Actual (LAC) as well as Depsang Plains.

“While, we have achieved a lot at the end of the day, we still have a long way to go,” Gen Naravane said.

There will be de-escalation and this will be followed by de-induction of troops which have gone up to higher reaches, the chief said.

According to him, the whole process of disengagement will be in a phased and coordinated manner. And it will be verified at all friction points.

Trust Deficit with China

There is a trust deficit with China. Now the Indian troops will be wary and cautious and keep a close watch on every move that is happening on both sides of the LAC.

Kailash Range

Without elaborating if India has a more tactical leverage like the domination of peaks on Kailash Range, the Army Chief’s answer was that they do.

He also said that have been put in place to help verify that these heights are not re-occupied.

Futuristic Technologies Adopted

He talked about the Indian Army working on futuristic technologies like swarm drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

He also shared that a young officer has come up with a Whatsapp like application. This application is currently undergoing cyber checks and the plan is to implement this across the Army and will be used for communication.

Also, there are 5-6 AI based projects in the pipeline, including AI based software projects which will be used for translating from Mandarin to English and vice versa, and will also take into account the body language and expressions. He said the disengagement agreement signed with China is premised on the fact that it will be observed in letter and spirit, as is the case with any agreement signed with another country.

View of a Indian Army Veteran of the 10th round of Indo-China talks

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd) says, “ The tenth round of talks at the Corps Commanders level were held as per the planned de-escalation from the North and South banks of Pangong Tso Lake.

It is assessed that the de-escalation is planned from other key location of Hot Springs – Gogra – Kongka La and the contentious Depsang plains.

The Global Times and the Chinese official media has now released a few names of the PLA personnel killed in action at Galwan on 5th June 2020. The CCP has been slow in acknowledging the death of its servicemen and has been blaming India for escalating the tensions in the region.”

What was the Chinese intention?

This is a question often asked, and most China experts step away from responding to this question.

“Some reasons that can be attributed to this move, notwithstanding the number of meetings between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi, is the dominance of India by China by repeated build-ups on the Line of Actual Control in testing the resolve of the Government of India and the Indian Army in particular, in isolation; detached from foreign policy and economic considerations. The CCP leadership assumed that it will be business as usual and the PLA will be able to get away with its belligerent posturing.

At the tactical level the quick build-up by the Indian Army to dominate the Chinese defences, especially the occupation of the Kailash Range heights and dominating the Spanggur Gap in Eastern Ladakh.

The PLA dominated the Depsang plains salient and that is the critical area on the negotiating table as its occupation by the PLA threatens the Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip for whatever its efficacy without preparation as well as giving depth to the Chinese Karakoram highway connecting Xinjiang with the Tibet Autonomous Region,” the army veteran opines.

According to him, “When the Line of Actual control is not demarcated, the perceptions on either side will remain in a shade of grey.

Keeping the eyeball to eyeball contact, wisdom lay’s in an agreed withdrawal and imposing a No Patrolling policy in a declared “No Man’s Land”. These areas will have to be kept under surveillance and a close watch kept on the PLA activities over the spring and summer months so that the PLA does not make a grab for the dominating heights. Contingency plans with dedicated air support will surely be in place to defeat any such plans of the PLA.”

In his opinion, “The de-escalation along the Line of Actual control has brought in the new normal, necessitating the need for the Indian Army raising additional three infantry battalions. While this too is being debated, the deployment of infantry to hold ground cannot be ruled out for any future escalations.

The CCP/PLA efforts to continue to build a narrative to counter the Government of India’s plans to contain the Chinese in their plans to dominate the region will have to be negated by a synergised and coordinated plan under the NSA.”

“The Indian Government must continue to develop its border infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control while focusing on capacity building for indigenous design, development and manufacturing,” Lt Col Channan suggests.

The NSA Mr Ajit Doval and Foreign Minister Wang Yi are likely to meet in the near future to resolve the boundary issues.

In conclusion he says, “The Quad efforts and diplomatic efforts as well as economic agreements must be progressed aggressively with North America and Europe to showcase India as a manufacturing hub as a reliable partner to replace China. Much desired this hasn’t happened as most have moved to Vietnam.

Till we have the capabilities developed, there is a need to look at the dragon in the eye and make sure it remains contained in its lair.”

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