Though the Indian Army soldiers are alert and ready for any eventuality, a collusive threat from Pakistan and China exists. “Together they form a “potent threat”, which cannot be wished away,” says the Indian Army Chief Gen MM Naravane. Addressing the annual press conference ahead of the Army Day on January 15, 2021, Gen Naravane told the media persons “The Army is ready to meet any challenge as the operational preparedness is of a high order. And, we’ll maintain our current positions. There is no reduction of troops from either side along the road of Actual Control (LAC)”. He was referring to capture of certain strategic heights along the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake by the Indian Army in August last year.
And, hoping for an amicable solution from the military talks with China. “India is focusing on a solution for the ongoing Ladakh standoff between India and China. A solution which will be based on equal and mutual security.”
No change in the status quo
Responding to a question, the Indian army chief made it clear that there is no change in the status quo. “The situation is the same as it was last year. And, what has emerged from the northern standoff is that there is a need for restructuring and enhancing our capabilities.
Adding, “All round development of the capabilities has taken place. Many contracts have been signed for weapons and gear for the infantry; communications and engineering systems. Each arm and services have got what they need.”
“Based on the principle of mutual and equal security, we are hoping that we are able to reach an agreement, which will result in disengagement and de-escalation. The disengagement from friction areas and then an overall de-escalation in the strength of troops from the border areas,” the army chief said.
What is the way forward?
The dates for the ninth round of corps commander-level talks between India and China of corps are awaited.
So far eight rounds of talks between the two sides have taken place and each has been preceded by diplomatic discussions. “Through the medium of talks we want to ensure that we reach a solution which is not detrimental to our interest,” Gen Naravane responded.
Is there a time set for the solution?
No. “We are prepared to hold our ground for as long as is required for realising our national goals.”
First mover advantage
He admitted that last year, China had the first-mover advantage in eastern Ladakh and India had the first-mover advantage in August. And, now, “the Indian Army is on full alert not only along the northern borders but eastern and central sectors too”.
National Challenges – Is the Army ready for two-front threat scenario?
Yes. According to the chief, the collusive approach of both Pakistan and China towards India is manifesting on the ground. Cooperation in the military and non-military sectors is growing between Pakistan and India.
“India will have to be prepared to deal with a “two-front” threat scenario.” According to the chief since Pakistan continues to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy, “India has a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism. And, we reserve the right to respond to the menace of terrorism at a time of our choosing with precision.”
In his opening remarks, the chief said that all logistics like clothing and habitat (housing) have been taken care of. And talked about the restructuring and transformation from man-power to technology-intensive force. The chief also stated that the army was looking at blockchain, big data, AI and quantum computing.
On the Integrated commands, he said that “We are fully committed to various integrated commands and will calibrate for a smooth transition.” he said.
Land surpluses like those from the soon-to-be-closed military farms would be used to seek infrastructure of equal value, he said.