Rajnath Singh in Ladakh: T-90 tanks, BMP combat vehicles and special forces carry out military drill

By: |
July 17, 2020 2:34 PM

The minister has been reviewing the situation in the eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control on a regular basis and gets updated on the combat readiness of the Indian Army to deal with any incidents.

He also visited forward areas and interacted with the troops who are deployed there.He also visited forward areas and interacted with the troops who are deployed there. (Image: ANI)

In a clear message to China, defence minister Rajnath Singh accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane reached Leh on a day-long visit on Friday. Besides being briefed on the security scenario in the region by the field commanders, the minister also witnessed a joint drill by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. “This drill was indicative of the preparedness of the armed forces to deal with harsh weather conditions when temperatures would drop to -30 to -40 degree centigrade,” observe experts.

During his visit to Stakna forward areas after landing in Ladakh he witnessed drill ‘Behind the enemy lines operations’ by the Special Forces, and the Indian Army decided to field its T 90 tanks and BMP II Infantry combat vehicles too at that altitude.

He also visited forward areas and interacted with the troops who are deployed there. The visit by the defence minister to Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir comes at a time when there is a growing threat from China and Pakistan.

The minister has been reviewing the situation in the eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control on a regular basis and gets updated on the combat readiness of the Indian Army to deal with any incidents.

Today’s visit comes at the end of marathon talks between the top army commanders of both sides on Wednesday.

EXPERTS’ VIEWS

Joint drill by the Indian Army & Indian Air Force

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Lt Gen AB Shivane (Retd) says, “Its indeed inspiring to see our defence minister reviewing Operational Readiness at Leh. However, while Strategic Messaging is welcome, but without desired Capability, Credibility and most importantly Commitment, it carries little meaning. It’s time we walk the talk, and demonstrate our capabilities at the right time, place and desired force for an effective deterrence on the Northern Front. China respects strength and exploits weakness.”

“Today, what stands as a matter of critical concern and immediate introspection at the operational and strategic level, is the resilience of our conventional deterrence on the Northern Borders. The key question remains – “Has the lack of credible deterrence and failure to execute time and place sensitive “Quid Pro Quo” actions, resulting in a compromised conflict de-escalation outcome”?Only time will witness the same,” Lt Gen Shivane says.

“When I was ADG PP in 2013 and asked by the hierarchy, what would act as a deterrence to Chinese belligerence? I had clearly stated, mechanised forces with a mix of medium and light tanks, long-range precision strike capabilities, in situ, equipped and tasked Brigade and Battalion sized Rapid Action Offensive Forces (RAOF), superior air force capability and giving teeth to Andaman & Nicobar Command, all empowered by a joint C5ISR capability. In the non-military front, cyberspace is another emerging arena to apply deterrence and demonstrate strong signalling. The challenge is greater in the non-contact, non-kinetic, informational, cyber and digital allied domains. Thus, we need is to dynamically reorient, reshape, restructure, rebalance forces and have a focused time-sensitive outcome-oriented capability development towards Northern Borders, in keeping with our primary threat which is knocking on our doors today NOT tomorrow,” the former general says.

On the Joint drill:

Lt Gen Shivane states, “Further, as long as we have disputed and turbulent borders, boots and tracks on the ground will matter. Mechanised Forces are instruments of deterrence in peace and force of decision in conflict. Yet with diverse terrain on our borders, “one size fit all” solution will not work. There are areas where the medium category tanks cannot operate effectively and we face voids with the Chinese Type 15 Light Tank already a deployed opposite. Thus, equipping Northern borders with light tanks will certainly add both to the deterrence and adding teeth to the RAOF. Indeed, we have debated this issue endlessly at Service headquarters and its time we stop discussing and start acting. “

According to Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd) “The visit to Ladakh weeks after the PMs visit is demonstrative of India’s resolve to stand up to the challenge posed by China. The military level talks have adequately been backed by the political leadership to project India’s point of view to the Chinese leadership.”

Why is the drill important?

“The joint Exercise of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force is indicative that the troops are well acclimatised to the high altitude environment and are prepared to take on any task. Indian Army has fielded its T 90 tanks and BMP II Infantry combat vehicles at Stakna, Leh in the presence of the defence minister and top army and air force officials,” Lt Col Channan says.

In his opinion, “The current standoff with the Chinese is not limited to the combat edge but the logistics of sustaining the troops, in the Ladakh sector where the region is cut off due to heavy snowfall over the passes.

India with its current fleet of Boeing C 17s and IL 76 will be able to build an aerobridge to Leh as the land route gets blocked due to heavy snowfall over the passes.”

“While the focus will remain on Ladakh; India must carefully watch the developments across the globe. France has offered to send troops to add on the military capability of the Indian Army. It’s indicative of the world opinion against the Chinese belligerence globally. The Chinese naval destroyer fleet is likely to double by the year 2025; the Quad needs to wargame this scenario and its impact on the Sea Lines of Communication. The US is considering a blanket ban on the travel of the members of the Chinese Communist Party to the US where they have heavily invested; the likely retaliation by the Chinese on the US interests in China needs to be watched carefully,” Lt Col Channan opines.

In conclusion he says, “The Indian Government must develop a regional alliance to counter the Chinese hegemony while demonstrating its will to stand up to any evil designs of the Chinese leadership.”

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