Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Manoj Pande Thursday said there has been a “slight increase” in the deployment of Chinese troops opposite the Army’s Eastern Command even as the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) remains “stable but unpredictable”. Pande clearly said one of the main challenges facing Indian armed forces today is the situation at the northern borders. He, however, did not name China even once.

Referring to the situation at the Eastern Command, he said the build up by the PLA on the opposite side is happening slowly and gradually. This is the sector that saw clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Tawang region in December.

“In the northern borders the situation is stable and under control yet unpredictable. You are aware of the ongoing talks (both at military as well as diplomatic levels) wherein we’ve been able to resolve five out of seven issues that were there on the table,” the Army Chief said at the annual Army Day presser.

Pande also said China continues to deploy PLA soldiers and India has been able to match their strength along the border areas.

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“The deployment from the adversary side continued in the same manner. We have an equal number of troops on our side. We have adequate reserves to cater for all contingencies … There has been a slight increase in the number of troops that we find opposite our Eastern Command but we are keeping a close watch on the movements and activities there with all the surveillance and resources that are available at our disposal,” he stressed.

READ | Why India-China Ties May Plummet Further In 2023 With Security Taking Priority

Due to the winter season, the COAS said, the Army has done some modifications in its deployments of forces at the LAC. He said the Chinese are bringing soldiers near the LAC to train and then they are staying back thereby adding on to the forces already deployed.

“But our soldiers are deployed along the LAC in a firm and resolute manner. I think we have been able to maintain a very robust and defensive posture and prevent any attempts by our adversary to unilaterally change the status quo,” he said.

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2,100 Km Roads, Bridges, Tunnels Constructed By BRO Along LAC

In terms of defence preparedness, Pande added, India has “adequate forces, adequate reserves” in each of the sectors along the LAC “to be able to effectively deal with any situation or contingency”.

On infrastructure development near the China border, the Army Chief said in the last five years, 2,100 km has been constructed by the BRO. Along with roads, he added, bridges are also being upgraded, tunnels are being created at Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. He said around Rs 1,300 crore has been spent on building this infrastructure, including habitat in eastern Ladakh.

According to the Army Chief, his “prime concern and focus since taking over the role was to “maintain a desired level of operational readiness at all times” along the LAC as well as the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan. 

On Jammu and Kashmir, he said the ‘Ceasefire Agreement’ signed between India and Pakistan has been “holding well” even as cases of infiltrations have gone down since then due to establishment of the counter-infiltration grid. 

But he also stressed that cross-border support to terrorism remains and certain strategic areas, such as the southern part of the Pir Panjal range remains a cause of concern. He said Pakistan is heavily relying on the use of drones in these areas.

Collaboration With Russia Continues

The Army Chief Thursday also said that about 6 lakh AK-203 assault rifles will be manufactured in collaboration with Russia.

On the Russia-Ukraine War that will complete a year next month, Pande said the Army has carried out a detailed analysis of the ongoing conflict and its impact in the context of India. 

But he did say that there has been a “security and economic fallout” in the past year that the Army sees as a challenge that has risen due to the Russia-Ukraine War. 

He said the year 2023 will be the “year of transformation” for the Indian Army when it will go for greater adoption of complex and niche technologies.

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