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Sunday, April 11, 2021

How is the Indian Army getting ready to face its opponents?

Even days after the brutal clash with China, the border is still simmering. Twenty Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in an ugly skirmish around nighttime on June 15 and since then, both the nations have begun to be extra careful. Although cross-border talks have been on since then, the two countries have rushed thousands of soldiers, artillery guns and tanks to the disputed region in Ladakh. Not only this but with the deteriorating relationship with its other neighbour Nepal, it seems quite evident that the situation on India’s border fronts might need additional troops and supplies.

Let’s find out how the Indian Army is getting ready to face its opponents if and when such a situation arises.

How to equip the Army?

Almost recently, an additional 35,000 troops have been prepared to be put in place along the Line of Actual Control with China in the disputed area of Ladakh. Commenting on the urgency of troops being positioned, tanks and mechanised elements being taken to Ladakh, BS Dhanoa retired Major General writes, “It’s not as if the Indian Army is discovering the potential of mechanised forces in Ladakh anew. Use of armour at critical points in battle, together with its offensive and deterrence quotient, can be traced back to Zoji La(48), Chushul (62), Western Ladakh (the early ’80s) and the airlift of a mechanised infantry heavy combat group to Leh for deployment in Eastern Ladakh in the mid ’88. Since then, especially in the last decade, the numbers have only increased. However, this deployment of regiments and battalions, initially equipped with T-72s and BMP II Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs) and now the T-90s as well, hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Units deploying in increasing numbers since 2012 have done so with a constant re-inventing of the wheel, as it were, by seeking standardisation of specialist equipment and warlike stores that need to be carried; in schedules related to pre-deployment training, as also the exact scales of additional equipment spares and accessories, along with a host of critical, unit level, HR issues. So it is not just tanks that you need to induct: the necessity is to have them integrate and fight together with other elements of combat power, creating the necessary level of deterrence to protect our sovereignty at 16,000 ft and above.”

The famous Rafale jets

India has been awaiting this for quite a long time now and just recently, five Rafale combat aircraft, a few of them fully armed has reached India from France and is likely to be ready for deployment from August. This development, of course, came as a relief to the Indian Army at this time when they are facing heat from their neighbour China at the Ladakh de facto borders.

Indian aircrew and the ground crew have been equally trained over time to operate the Rafale aircraft keeping in mind the highly advanced weapon systems the jets use. “Post arrival, efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest,” the IAF had said in a statement. In total, India had been promised 36 Rafale jets that cost $8.2 billion in September 2016 after contract negotiations over the year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the purchase plans back in April 2015. With these jets, the IAF will not only have a fast and agile modern fighter aircraft but it also comes with an advanced, potent set of weapons from the famous European weapon maker MBDA.

Upgrading the tanks

For its Russian-origin T-90 main battle tanks, India had signed a Rs 557-crore deal with a state-run enterprise for a total of 1512 mine ploughs. These ploughs will help the Army to eradicate land mines planted along the borders, especially by its arch-enemy Pakistan that take away numerous lives. Bengaluru’s BEML Limited has been signed on to supply the mine ploughs and the contract was made under the Buy and Make Indian category of the Defence Procurement Procedure, the defence ministry had said in a statement earlier. “We are proud to be associated with MoD to enhance the combat capability of the Indian Army. This is another example of BEML’s capability to meet the specific requirements of our armed forces. BEML signifies the true spirit of Make in India and enabler for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self-Reliant India),” BEML Limited Chairman and Managing Director Dr Deepak Kumar Hota said.

What’s happening at the borders?

Apart from the evident heat from China in the disputed Ladakh region, Pakistan has also been doing their bit in the Western border. Pakistan has already caused 21 Indian deaths and 94 injuries until now in a total of 2711 ceasefire violations as they continue to be a part of unprovoked firing on Indian positions in the border areas. “India condemns, in the strongest terms, the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians by Pakistani forces,” India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a statement earlier. Pakistan seems to be on its toes since last August when the Article 370 of the Indian constitution was scrapped as it had always been vehemently opposing the integration of the Jammu and Kashmir region into the mainland of India. Since then, it has been said that India’s neighbour has been indulging in unnecessary firing at the border and sending in terrorists into J&K to cause more trouble.

The Indian Prime Minister has been vital in raising the morals of the Indian Army and its soldiers after the unprecedented attack along the LAC with China. “Your bravery and your dedication to safeguarding mother India’s honour is not comparable. Your endurance is not inferior to anyone in the world. No one in the world can compete with the tough situations and the heights you embrace while serving mother India. Your courage is taller than the heights you are deployed in. Your resolve is stronger than the valleys you walk every day and your arms are as strong as the rocks that surround you. The strength of your will is indomitable like the mountains around you. I can feel it and see it today, as I am amongst you,” he said in his address to the soldiers in Ladakh earlier this month. Let’s see how this goes.

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