South Asia and Beyond

What Army Chief Has Told His Troops Deployed Along LAC

 What Army Chief Has Told His Troops Deployed Along LAC

NEW DELHI: This is the fourth winter since the fatal clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan, which changed the entire dynamics of India’s deployment of forces along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. And troops keep a round-the-clock vigil braving freezing temperatures at ultra-high altitudes to foil any mischief by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). So what exactly is the situation along the LAC now?

“The situation on the LAC is currently stable and the fact that we haven’t had any major incident in the last three years bears that out,” Army Chief General Manoj Pande told StratNews Global in an exclusive interview.

But that’s cold comfort, given that the trust deficit with Chinese troops has only widened since the unprovoked aggression by them in Galwan in May 2020. The first round of disengagement of troops took place in February 2021 but new information reveals that even when talks were on with China, PLA troops did try to attack Indian army positions in Eastern Ladakh at least twice in 2022. As per the details, revealed due to the investiture ceremonies of western and central commands in the run-up to the Army Day on January 15, one such incident happened at the Shankar Tekri post on January 7, 2022 while another Chinese misadventure took place at the Atari post on November 27, 2022.

We need to constantly monitor the situation there and keep a close watch on developments, Gen Pande said, adding that the heightened deployment of troops continues on the other side. “With the onset of winter, whatever troops were there in the training areas across the LAC seem to have gone back to the permanent garrisons. As far as our deployment goes, we are maintaining a very balanced and robust posture and also maintaining adequate reserves in all sectors to be able to deal with any contingencies that may arise.”

Meanwhile, talks continue to resolve the standoff. There have been 20 rounds of meetings at the level of corps commanders plus 14 rounds at the diplomatic level since May 2020. Yet, a couple of prickly points remain.

Rebalancing of troops post-Galwan is complete, the Army Chief said. And the pace of building border infrastructure has picked up. In the last three years, 390 company-sized modules for the comfortable stay of troops have been built. That’s how 40,000 troops have been accommodated. The Ministry of Power has assured that 105 forward locations will be electrified, which will help cut down on fossil fuel consumption. As many as 365 forward posts have been identified where 4G connectivity will reach by September this year. Roads and tunnels are being built for all-weather connectivity.

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And troops have a clear message from Gen. Pande: “Be firm in your resolve and ensure that there is no attempt to change the current status quo”.

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