Press Trust of India

Situation along LAC stable but sensitive, deployment extremely robust: Gen Pande

Situation along LAC stable but sensitive, deployment extremely robust: Gen Pande
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New Delhi: Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande on Friday said he would describe the situation along the Line of Actual Control as “stable but sensitive” while asserting that deployment of Indian troops and other elements along the LAC is “extremely robust” and “balanced”.

During a panel discussion at a conclave here, he also said “we need to keep a close watch and monitor” what other developments are taking place along the border in terms of infrastructure and movement of troops.

At the discussion on ‘India & Indo-Pacific: Threats and Opportunities’, held as part of the India Today Conclave 2024, the Army chief was asked a range of questions in the context of China’s growing influence in the region and the future preparedness of the army “if the situation along the LAC escalates”.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area.

Ties between the two countries nose-dived significantly following the clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

Asked what was the current situation at the LAC, Gen Pande said, “Very briefly if I were to sum up as to what the situation is, I would describe it to be stable but sensitive. And, this is where we need to keep a close watch, monitor very closely the activities across the LAC, both in the immediate, shall we say depth, and further behind.”

“I would say upfront, our deployment in terms of the troops and other elements that we have along the LAC, is extremely robust and, it is balanced. We also have or we do maintain adequate reserves, in terms of our infantry formation and other artilleries and the other elements, to be able to deal with any situation that may arise across the entire length of the LAC. So, this is as far as our preparedness is concerned,” he added.

India and China recently held a fresh round of high-level military talks to resolve the border row that witnessed both sides agreeing to maintain “peace and tranquillity” on the ground but there was no indication of any breakthrough.

The Army chief was also asked what lessons have been learnt from tussles at the border, to which he said, not only what is happening along the border, “I would say there are very profound lessons that we need to learn from conflicts happening around the world.”

These lessons are at the “strategic level, operational level and tactical level”.

“At the strategic level, national security is gaining salience in the international system and what it has shown is that when national interests are involved, nations would not hesitate to go to war. Second, in situation where you have contested borders, such as ours, the land will continue to remain a decisive domain of warfare,” Gen Pande said.

Third is self-reliance, it has shown that not only in this conflict, but also during the pandemic time, “the importance for us to become self-reliant, to have near zero dependency on ex/import requirements”.

“At the operational level, the importance of non-contact warfare, as we call it non-kinetic warfare… cyber, information space, battle of narratives, influence operations, these are some of the areas. All the lessons we need to see in our context,” he said.

Asked about a recent international report that claims the situation along the LAC may escalate, the Army chief said, “We do plan for different contingencies, and for each contingency, the responses would be different”.

“So, I would not want to get into the specifics as to what the response would be, but leave it by saying that our current deployment… is robust, and we do have response mechanism, for different contingencies that may arise, which also will be equally robust, equally effective,” he asserted.

And, while what is happening at the border is also important, there is also a need to “keep a close watch and monitor what other developments are taking place in terms of infrastructure, movement of troops, concentration of troops etc, so, this is a constant process, so not only the military in consonance with other intelligence agencies at the strategy level, we have all the wherewithal”, Gen Pande said.

“So, it is for us to put it all together to make sure that we are neither strategically surprised nor tactically surprised,” the Army chief added.

Asked if the situation escalates, will Indian military’s response will be different than what it was in the 1962 war, he said, “Certainly. Response will be effective and it will be what situation that comes about.”

Gen Pandey also said there is a need to identify as to how future conflicts will play out, and how one can leverage the technology, one will have to “look beyond the conventional, shall we say instruments of war, the conventional domains”.

“We have to see as to how artificial intelligence, 5G, Internet of Things, drones, surveillance systems, cyber, these are the areas we are currently focussing on. We want to leverage the immense innovative as well the start-up potential that we have in the country,” he added.


Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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