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Indian Army "reorienting" forces to boost combat readiness along LAC in Arunachal sector

DINJAN, ASSAM (PTI): The Indian Army is effecting a major "reorientation" and "rebalancing" of its troops in the strategically sensitive areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh with a top General saying its overall combat readiness in the region is of a "very high order."

The measures being taken by the Army to boost its overall combat readiness come amid the over two-year long military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

From construction of roads, bridges, ammunition depots to bolstering its air assets and surveillance apparatus, the Army is also ramping up military infrastructure on a war footing for quicker mobilisation of troops in the strategically sensitive RALP (Rest of Arunachal Pradesh) region of the northeastern state, senior military officials told PTI on Wednesday.

The General-Officer-Commanding(GOC) of the 2 Mountain Division Major General MS Bains said the focus of the Army in the region has been fully shifted towards the frontier with China and that almost all the counter-insurgency operations previously involving the force are now being carried out by the Assam Rifles in the region.

He said capability development projects including construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, helipads and other infrastructure are being implemented under strict timelines, especially in the Upper Dibang Valley region of Arunachal Pradesh.

"Our overall combat readiness in the region is of a very high order," Maj Gen Bains told a group of visiting journalists.

Another senior official said the focus is also on expanding 4G telecommunication network in the strategically sensitive areas like Kibithu, Walong and Hayuliang.

China has installed mobile towers in significant numbers on its side of the LAC in the region and Indian phones automatically pick up a Chinese network in some of the areas.

The officials said the Army along with other stakeholders are developing capabilities with a long-term perspectives under a five-year plan (2021-2025) and the major focus has been on "restructuring, rebalancing and reorienting" the forces to enhance vigil along the LAC with China.

They said the Indian Air Force (IAF) too has been significantly strengthening its air assets including construction of new helipads and further expanding capabilities of the Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs).

“China has been ramping up infrastructure development and we are trying to match it,” said one of the officials.

On reorientation of troops in various areas including in RALP (Rest of Arunachal Pradesh) region close to LAC, the officials said all Army units except 73 Mountain Brigade is now working towards dealing with challenges along the LAC.

The 73 Mountain Brigade headquartered in Laipuli near Upper Assam's Dibrugarh town has been tasked to continue the counter-insurgency operations in four districts of the state.

"The overall law and order situation has improved in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. So, the counter-insurgency operations are largely being carried out by the Assam Rifles and the Army is focusing on reorientation of the troops along the LAC," said an official.

Another official said the Govt is also determined to significantly enhance infrastructure in border villages.

"As many as 990 villages in five districts of Arunachal Pradesh have been identified under the vibrant village programme," he added.

The officials said new-age surveillance equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being deployed in forward locations along the LAC in the Arunachal Pradesh sector.

They said the aim of capability development initiatives are to ensure swift mobilisation of troops.

The need for quick mobilisation of troops and weapon systems gained renewed focus in the wake of the Sino-India border standoff in eastern Ladakh that erupted in May 2020.

Following the escalation in tension in the Ladakh standoff, the Army has taken a series of measures to boost its operational capabilities in the eastern sector that included procurement of all terrain vehicles, precision-guided ammunition, high-tech surveillance equipment, radars and weapons.

Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a standoff at a number of friction points in eastern Ladakh for over two years.

The two sides have carried out disengagement process in several areas in the region as a result of high-level military talks.

However, both sides are yet to make any breakthrough in ending the face-off in the remaining friction points.

The last round of high-level military talks took place in July but it failed to achieve any concrete outcome.

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