Situation along northern border stable but unpredictable: Army Chief
On J&K, says ceasefire understanding of February 2021 is holding well
New Delhi: The situation along the frontier with China is “stable” but “unpredictable” and Indian troops are adequately deployed to deal with any contingency even as there was slight increase in number of Chinese troops in their areas across the eastern sector, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said on Thursday.
At a press conference ahead of Army Day, Gen Pande also said the Indian troops deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have been able to maintain a robust posture to defeat any evil design of the adversary with a “firm and resolute” manner.
The Chief of Army Staff asserted that the preparedness level of the Indian Army remained “very high” along the LAC and it has adequate forces and reserves in each of the sectors to effectively deal with any situation.
“The situation is stable and under control, yet unpredictable. You are aware of the ongoing talks where we have been able to resolve five out of seven issues that were on the table and we are continuing to talk both at the diplomatic as well as the military level,” he said.
“In terms of our preparedness level, they remain of a very high standard. We have adequate forces, we have adequate reserves in each of our sectors to be able to effectively deal with any situation or contingency,” he added.
The Army Chief said the “strategic rebalancing” of the troops that was undertaken sometime ago has been completed.
“We have been able to maintain a very robust defensive posture and prevent any attempts from our adversary to unilaterally change the status quo in a firm and resolute manner,” Gen Pande said.
His comments came amid the 32-month military standoff between Indian and Chinese militaries in eastern Ladakh.
There has been a fresh spike in tensions between India and China after troops from the two sides were engaged in a clash along the LAC at Yangtse in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 09.
Gen Pande said the deployment of troops by the Chinese side along the northern border continues in the same manner and that the number of Indian soldiers in the region is on par in the region.
“There is a slight increase in the number of (Chinese) troops opposite our eastern command. We are keeping a close watch,” he said.
The Army’s Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command takes care of security in areas along the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Asked about the situation in Doklam, Gen Pande said all activities in the region are being monitored closely.
Referring to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the ceasefire understanding that was agreed to in February 2021 is holding well.
At the same time Gen Pande said cross-border support to terrorism and terror infrastructure remained.
“As far as the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, the ceasefire understanding that came into effect in February 2021 is holding well. The cross border support to terrorism and terrorist infrastructure, however, remains,” he said.
“What is heartening is the marked reduction in violence parameters and the fact that the people there are partnering with the government in a number of developmental initiatives. All these notwithstanding, we need to remain alert both on the Line of Control as well as in the hinterland,” he said.
On the situation in the Northeast, he said peace has returned to most of the states in the region.
The Army chief said a proposal for induction of women personnel into artillery units has been sent to the government.
“This is something we have decided. We must do (it). The proposal has been forwarded to the government. We hope that it will be accepted,” he said.
Gen Pande said the Army has decided that 2023 will be the year of transformation and the force has laid out a specific roadmap aiming for certain outcomes that can be achieved. “This process will continue beyond the current year.”
Asked whether the Russian invasion of Ukraine added new complexities to India’s security challenges along the LAC as it could embolden China to take an aggressive posturing, he said a detailed analysis was carried out at operational, strategic and tactical levels.
“We have to contextualise these lessons. We have incorporated them in terms of larger weapons platform, cyberspace,” he said.
To a question on the impact of the Ukraine conflict, the Chief of Army Staff said that there has been an impact on supplies but his force would overcome the challenge.