Army brass holds key meet amid LAC row
The army’s top brass on Monday kicked off a biannual conference to deliberate on key organisational and operational issues, including the prevailing situation along the country’s northern border with China where the two armies are negotiating disengagement of rival troops from friction points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), officials familiar with the development said.
Infrastructure development in the border areas and induction of niche technologies will also be discussed during the four-day conference chaired by army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.
The conference began a fortnight after the 13th round of military talks to cool tensions in Ladakh between India and China reached an impasse on October 10, with PLA not agreeing to suggestions made by the Indian Army.
The military dialogue took place more than two months after the last round of talks that led to disengagement of forward deployed troops from Gogra, or Patrol Point-17A, which was one of the flashpoints on LAC in Ladakh.
If the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is there to stay in the Ladakh theatre so is the Indian Army, Naravane said on October 9, referring to the military buildup and infrastructure development across LAC.
India and China have been locked in a border standoff for over 17 months and despite two rounds of disengagement at friction points this year, the two sides still have 50,000 to 60,000 troops each in the Ladakh theatre. Outstanding problems at Hot Springs and Depsang are yet to be resolved to lay the groundwork for the de-escalation of the Ladakh border row.
The conference also comes days after Naravane visited Jammu & Kashmir for a security review after several soldiers were killed in a counterterror operation, and renewed infiltration attempts by Pakistani terrorists are being witnessed along the Line of Control after a temporary lull following the renewal of a ceasefire pact with Pakistan in February 2021.
“The apex leadership of Indian Army will brainstorm on current/emerging security and administrative aspects to chart future course in the backdrop of the situation along the borders and challenges imposed by Covid-19 pandemic,” the defence ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
The current theaterisation model, a long-awaited military reform with the full backing of the government, seeks to set up four new integrated commands for synergy in operations --- two land-centric theatres, the Air Defence Command and the National Maritime Theatre Command.
The creation of theatre commands could take two to three years, with senior officers from the three services being assigned key responsibilities to finalise the joint structures.