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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

After Ladakh visit, army chief Dalbir Singh shifts focus to eastern sector

Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 18, 2014
First Published: 01:24 IST(18/8/2014) | Last Updated: 16:06 IST(18/8/2014)

Army chief General Dalbir Singh has sharpened his focus on the eastern sector after touring incursion-prone pockets along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh will visit Kolkata-based Eastern Command in the last week of August and he is expected to track the progress of a new fighting formation being set up to counter China in the Northeast.

It was under Singh's leadership as eastern army commander that the force began the groundwork for setting up the new mountain strike corps, 17 Corps, a project worth more than Rs. 62,000 crore. The corps is likely to be operational by 2022.

Singh has served as an inspector general in a covert China-centric unit called the Special Frontier Force, operating under the research and analysis wing. The SFF is composed of Tibetan soldiers.

India has identified eight trouble spots in Arunachal Pradesh - Namka Chu, Longju, Tulung La, Bum La, Dichu, Sumdorong Chu, Yangtse and Asaphila.

India and the US decided to explore greater opportunities for defence cooperation, including co-development and co-production of modern weapon systems, during US defence secretary Chuck Hagel's visit to New Delhi  from August 7 to 9.

The army's plans to buy 145 BAE Systems M777 ultra-light howitzers from the US for the new mountain strike corps have not taken off due to high acquisition cost and the vendor's inability to meet a key obligation under the proposed contract.

Singh will have to push for speedy acquisition of the howitzers as lack of these guns could hamper the setting up of the corps.

India is years behind the Chinese military with the Communist neighbour currently outnumbering the country's combat power by a 3:1 ratio. The new corps is expected to reduce the Chinese advantage to a ratio of 2.1:1.


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