New Delhi. Sending a loud and clear message to China in the wake of the ongoing nine-month tension and massing of troops in freezing conditions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, the Indian Army chief, General MM Naravane said on January 15 that no one should make the mistake of testing India’s patience while on the Western Front with Pakistan it would be “no tolerance policy, where the army is ever alert.”
And, in keeping with the Army’s modernisation programme and sending a strong message of the rapid modernisation of the Indian Army, there was a live demonstration of Drone Swarming capability using 75 indigenously designed and developed drones which executed an array of Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled and simulated offensive missions and close support tasks.
Elaborating on the ongoing tension with China, he said,”we are committed to resolve disputes through talks and political efforts but no one should make any mistake of testing our patience.” The Army Chief said the forces were “ever alert all along the border. We already had eight rounds of talks at different levels with China to resolve the India-China standoff at Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh. We are waiting for time and date for our ninth round of talks and we are sure that we will reach at an amicable solution through dialogue.”
“We are ready to meet any eventuality and troops deployed were being provided all facilities including warm clothes, habitat, etc. in this harsh month of winter. Operational preparedness and morale of our Army jawans are very high,” General Naravane said.
He said the National Democratic Alliance government had assured the military that it would get all the funds required for defending the country and modernisation of forces amid signs of the military standoff between India and China getting prolonged.
Referring to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, he said the neighbouring country continues to provide a safe haven to terrorists.
“Strong response is being given to the enemy on the other border. Pakistan continues to provide safe haven to terrorists. In the training camps, across the LoC (Line of Control), around 300-400 terrorists are ready to infiltrate,” he said.
“There was an increase of 40 per cent in the ceasefire violations last year which is the proof of Pakistan’s sinister plans. There were also attempts to smuggle weapons using drones,” he added.
“As far as Western front is concerned, Pakistan has been sponsoring the terrorism as its state policy. But we have been following the ‘No tolerance policy’ in this regard,” he said adding, “We reserve our right to respond to any nefarious activities at the Western front by Pakistan.”
Referring to the demonstration by Swarming Drones, he said “we are transforming ourselves from a manpower intensive force to a technology-enabled service. Niche technology is the need of the hour and we are working to get all the modern-day technology such as Quantum Communication, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and our own Army Design Bureau is working on this, while focus has also been on making an “atmanirbhar sena.”
In keeping with the government focus on self reliance and “Make in India,” the General said “We are signing our 80-85 per cent contract with Indian companies to promote indigenisation and to fulfill the mission of Prime Minister’s call of Atmanirbhar Bharat.”
“We have initiated all out modernisation plan, and we are thankful of budgetary support of the government, especially the Finance Minister that she understood our requirements,” the Army Chief said.
Indian Army has planned for Rs 50+ crore programme through technology development fund and others towards the modernisation of the force. The restructuring is happening at the tri-service level and the Army is committed to tri-service integrated commands, the Army Chief added.
“We are also optimally considering restructuring of the service as well as enhancing the capabilities and in the run up to this we have signed many contracts recently,” the Army Chief noted. Indian Army is in the process of procuring infantry weapons, artillery platforms, communication equipment and all modern warfare fighting equipment, and each arm and services are getting weapons and platforms.
“On human resource part, we have also been able to achieve towards providing facilities as well as welfare services for the serving as well as retired personnel. Not all, but we have been successful in resolving almost 80 per cent issues of such personnel which were in dire need of attention, and benefits accrued out of it,” he said
On the challenges that confronted the Army in the past year, he said “last year many challenges were there and we had to walk the talk. More particularly Covid was the main challenge; however, we did our bit and came out of the situation. Another challenge I must mention was at the northern border which has been in existence even now.”
“Through our pragmatic assessment of the situation on Covid, we instituted various measures through Op Namaste. We not only implemented various measures at the Army Headquarters but also asked all the commands, brigades, units and almost all the arms to implement the measures to protect the Army personnel from the pandemic,” he said.
“Not only this, while braving the Covid pandemic, at the same time we kept ready all the operational preparedness to protect the integrity and sovereignty of our nation. Although we faced problems because of restrictions imposed following Covid, but the restrictions were in the larger interest of the nation,” the Army Chief said.
General Naravane reviewed the Army Day Parade and awarded 15 Sena Medals, including five posthumously, for individual acts of gallantry and 23 COAS Unit Citations for commendable performance of their respective units.
The Parade was commanded by Maj Gen Alok Kaker, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area, with the leading contingent of the parade was formed of the recipients of the Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra awardees.
This was followed by the mechanised contingents which included the T-90 Bhishma main battle tank (MBT) infantry combat vehicle BMP II, as also the Brahmos supersonic missile system, the Pinaka multiple launch rocket system, upgraded Schilka gun system, and bridge layer tank.
The Army Day celebrations commenced with a wreath laying ceremony at National War Memorial where the CDS, Gen Bipin Rawat, and the three Service Chiefs paid homage to the Martyrs.
Published by India Strategic on January 22, 2021.