NEW DELHI: India is progressively rebalancing its military forces and firepower to the east, instead of concentrating largely on just the western front, to ensure it can handle separate or even collusive threats from China and Pakistan, General Manoj Mukund Naravane said on Saturday.
should also be ours, and we get instructions to that effect, we will take appropriate action. If that is the mandate, so be it,” he said.
Speaking in the run-up to the Army Day on January 15, Gen Naravane said the armed forces, with an integrated land-air-sea war-fighting machinery, must “balance capabilities and deployments” to cater for threats from both the northern borders with China as well as the western borders with Pakistan.
“For dealing with our northern neighbour, we are going in for a lot of capacity-building in terms of roads, infrastructure and creating storage for ammunition. We are also moving some of our most advanced weapon systems to the east. Due to this rebalancing and recalibration, we are ready and prepared to meet threats from any side,” he said.
The firepower to back the troops on the ground range from additional T-72 tanks in eastern Ladakh and Sikkim and 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and 155mm Bofors howitzers in Arunachal Pradesh to Sukhoi-30MKI “air dominance” fighters in Bareilly, Tezpur and Chabua. Moreover, 18 of the 36 new Rafale “omni-role” fighters, which can also deliver nuclear weapons, will be based at Hasimara (
) after the first squadron comes up at Ambala (Haryana).
Gen Naravane, on his part, underlined the strategic importance of the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region, which he visited on Thursday-Friday, because the glacial heights and the Sakshgam Valley “are from where collusivity can happen” between China and Pakistan.
Indian soldiers deployed on the Saltoro Ridge, in effect, prevent Pakistan from the west and China from the east joining up through the Karakoram Pass to threaten Ladakh. China, of course, is also fast expanding its footprint in PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
As for the worst-case scenario of a two-front war, Gen Naravane said the Army would deploy the bulk of its forces to deal with the “primary front”, while maintaining “a deterrence posture” on the “secondary front”. The Army also has “dual-task” formations that can swiftly move from west to the east, or vice-versa, to cater for “emerging threats”.
But a two-front contingency is a dim possibility, with India and China working to reduce border tensions after the first informal summit between PM
and President Xi Jingping at Wuhan in April 2018 led to “strategic guidance” to the two militaries to manage and defuse troop face-offs during patrolling in accordance with existing protocols and mechanisms. The long-pending hotline between the Indian DGMO and the Chinese Western Theatre Command chief will also soon be a reality, with “all the procedural aspects now being ironed out”, said Gen Naravane.
The creation of the chief of defence staff post and the department of military affairs are “big steps” towards integration among the armed forces. “We on our part will make sure that it is successful. Integration will also be within the Army and the new integrated battle groups are just one example of that. But I also want to assure everyone that in this process of integration, we will take everyone along. Nobody will be left behind,” he said.