Indian Army ready to face all threats and challenges
by Jaibans Singh on 26 Jan 2021 5 Comments

“Pakistan continues to embrace terror and terrorism as an instrument of state policy, however, we are clear that we have zero tolerance for terror and we have reserved our right to respond at a time and place of our choosing. This is a clear message that we have sent across that we will not tolerate such activity.”


“Pakistan and China form a very potent threat, there is an aspect of collusion that cannot be wished away and it is very much a part of our assessment. We have to be prepared to deal with it.”


These two statements were a part of a candid press conference addressed by army chief, General Manoj Mukund Naravane on the occasion of Army Day, 2021. India celebrates Army Day on January 15, the day General (later Field Marshal) K.M. Cariappa took over as the first Indian Commander-in-Chief in 1949, replacing Sir Francis Butcher.


A number of parades, memorial lectures, equipment displays, and investiture ceremonies are organised by the Army on this day. An integral part of the itinerary is a press conference addressed by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).


In his opening remarks, General Naravane lauded the supreme sacrifice by brave hearts in the line of duty. He greeted all ranks of the army, defence civilians, families, Veer Naris and veterans and citizens on behalf of the army. General Naravane spoke extensively on issues of strategic importance concerning the immediate neighbourhood and the global environment. He expanded upon the vision to steer the army towards modernisation through “capability development and restructuring.”


The Indo-China face-off dominated the conference. General Naravane mentioned this in his opening remarks and took on many questions on the subject. He said that in the Northern front, the army is maintaining a high state of alertness in accordance with the threat perception and is presently in the winter posture, ready to meet any challenge.


Explaining the tactical aspects of the situation as it evolved along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 2020, he said that mobilisation by China was not anything new. They come for training every year and the Indian Army has all information of their movement. In the initial face-off, they had “first mover advantage”, which Indian Army also had in August when it moved into strategically important heights despite being “eyeball-to-eyeball” with China. With regard to the present situation, he said that the bulk of Chinese troops who had come in for training have moved back to their permanent location on the Tibetan Plateau, but no movement has taken on either side at the “friction points.”  


The Government’s directive is to stay steadfast in our positions while talks carry on at all levels. Eight rounds of talks of corps commanders have taken place and the date for the ninth is awaited. The Chief expressed a hope that with dialogue and discussion, the two sides will be able to reach to an amicable solution based on the principle of “equal and mutual security in consonance with talks and understanding which resulted as an outcome of meetings by defence minister and foreign minister with their counterparts.” Having said so, the General affirmed that the army is ready for a long haul with “logistics in place, preparedness of a high order and high morale of troops.”


So far as the internal security situation in Kashmir is concerned, General Naravane said that while a large number of terrorists have been neutralised in the year gone by, recruitment in the terrorist Tanzeems is still going on. The initiative of the Indian army to win hearts and minds through Operation Sadbhavna has resulted in recruitment levels declining gradually. More traction will be attained with a whole of government approach. As development goes on and employment increases, recruitment will go down and the security situation will improve.


General Naravane expressed satisfaction at the manner in which the army met the COVID challenge by the launch of “Operation Namaste.” With pragmatic assessment, institution of required medical norms and free hand to commanders on ground, the force was able to contain the situation and maintain operational preparedness to required levels, to the extent of going in for rapid deployment when required. The Army also reached out to the state governments with assistance in quarantine and other aspects as required. He appreciated the efforts of the medical fraternity of the army.   


Regarding aspects of capacity building and restructuring, General Naravane reiterated the Tri-service commitment to move determinedly in this direction since what has transpired recently has clearly established the need for the same. The transformation will be from manpower-intensive to technology-intensive structures with full commitment Tri service jointness. He added that all round development would be ensured with each arm getting what it needs. The Army has signed a number of contracts in the preceding year of which 80-85 percent are with Indian companies in an effort to indigenise on principles of “Atmannirbhar Bharat” spelled out by the prime minister.


The Army Chief assured that India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is in safe hands. India will not succumb to any pressure, be it from China, Pakistan, collusive or of any other nature. We will continue diplomatic efforts as needed, but all military preparations for all eventualities are in place and more will be done as required.


(Jaibans Singh is a geo-strategic analyst, columnist and commentator

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