(TibetanReview.net, Jan14’23) – Speaking about the challenges facing the Indian army along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with Chinese occupied Tibet in the north, the Indian Army chief has said the situation was stable but continued to be unpredictable. Addressing the press ahead of the Indian Army Day on Jan 15, General Manoj Pande has said India had matched China’s slight increase in deployment of troops while also making progress in improving the lacking border infrastructure.
“There has been a slight increase in the number of troops we find opposite our Eastern Command, but we are keeping a close watch on the movement and activities with all surveillance resources available at our disposal,” the indianexpress.com Jan 13 quoted General Pande as saying.
The overall security situation along the 3,488-km long LAC stretching from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh is “stable, and under control, but unpredictable”, the timesofindia.com Jan 13 quoted him as saying.
With no de-escalation in the military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, and both sides continuing to forward deploy over 50,000 troops each for the third successive harsh winter, Gen Pande has said the Indian Army was maintaining “a very high level of operational preparedness with adequate forces and reserves” in each sector of the LAC to tackle any contingency.
China has so far flatly refused troop disengagement at the strategically-located Depsang Plains and Demchok in eastern Ladakh, while also cranking up the pressure along the 1,346-km LAC stretch in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, the report noted.
General Pande has said that currently, the Indian Army had modified deployments in line with its winter posture — not only ensuring adequate forces and reserves but also synergizing with the local civil administration and integrating resources with the Indian Air Force to maintain the required level of preparedness along the border.
He has also said Indian soldiers, deployed along the LAC, had been able to maintain a robust defensive posture and to prevent China’s attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in a firm and resolute manner.
On the occupied Tibet side, Pande has said China has used the continuing over 32-month long military confrontation to build and consolidate its military positions and border infrastructure all along the LAC as well as upgrade its air bases facing India.
The Indian Army chief has also said there has been a marked improvement in India’s border infrastructure development. Of the 6,000 km roads constructed pan-India in the last five years, 2,100km have been along the northern borders.
He has also said all-weather connectivity had been achieved in Ladakh and the Kameng sector of Arunachal Pradesh. He has added that in Ladakh, the construction of the Zoji La tunnel as well as the Z-Morh tunnel, which will provide connectivity to Ladakh through the J&K Valley, will be completed by the end of this year.
The Tawang sector will be well connected all through the year once the Sela tunnel is made operational by the middle of this year, and with the Nechiphu tunnel near Bomdila further south, he has added.
“There are plans not only for all-weather connectivity but also alternate connectivity (to the forward areas),” General Pande has said.
Other plans were stated to include building of strategic rail links – two in the North East and one in Ladakh.
Regarding the existing range of weapon systems and equipment in the Indian Army’s armoury, he has said “it is presently 45% vintage, 41% current and 12-15% state-of-art equipment,” with modernization plans being underway to reach a figure of close to 35% current and 44% state-of-art equipment.