Army Chief General Naravane chalking out strategies with commanders in Ladakh

New Delhi: Army chief General M.M. Naravane said Friday that India has given a befitting reply to the conspiracy of unilaterally changing the status quo at the borders, and that the sacrifices made by soldiers in the Galwan Valley would not go in vain.

Gen. Naravane was speaking at the 73rd Army Day event at the National War Memorial in New Delhi. Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh were also present, and paid tributes at the memorial.

“We are in favour of resolving our disputes through talks and political efforts, but no one should commit the mistake of testing our patience,” Gen. Naravane said, adding that last year was particularly challenging for the Army.

“Despite the cold and difficulties in eastern Ladakh, the morale of the soldiers deployed is higher than the mountains they are defending,” he said.

India and China have been locked in a stand-off at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh since May last year. The countries are yet to arrive at a concrete solution, despite eight rounds of senior military commanders’ talks. The date for the ninth round of talks is yet to be decided.

Situation At LoC And In The Northeast

Speaking about the situation along the Line of Control (LoC), Gen. Naravane said about 300-400 terrorists are present in camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, waiting to infiltrate.

He said last year, there was a 44 per cent hike in ceasefire violations along the LoC, which bears testimony to Pakistan’s “devious intentions”. He also said the Army killed over 200 terrorists last year in counter-terrorism operations.

The Army chief said drones and tunnels were used to smuggle arms at the borders, but a strong counter-infiltration grid by the Army has foiled several attempts by the enemy, and also caused heavy losses.

In the Northeast, the security situation has improved substantially, Gen. Naravane said, adding that proactive operations in the region led to the surrender of nearly 600 terrorists and the recovery of a huge cache of arms.

The Army had conducted multiple successful operations with the Myanmar Army. The fact that the Army has reduced troops in the Northeast bears testament to the improved security situation.

New Technologies

Gen. Naravane also said the Army is working with Indian Institutes of Technology on newer technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain , quantum computing, energy weapons and swarm drones.

He also said under the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Army has identified 29 modernisation projects worth Rs 32,000 crore.

Naravane added the Army has bought arms and equipment worth Rs 5,000 crore, and has concluded contracts worth Rs 13,000 crore. This includes light machine guns, light special vehicles, personal protective gear, infantry combat vehicles and long-range vectors.