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My priority will be to ensure very high standards of operational preparedness: Army Chief

Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande at South Block, New Delhi on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)

NEW DELHI (PTI): In the backdrop of India's lingering standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande on Sunday said his "utmost and foremost" priority would be to ensure "very high standards" of operational preparedness to face current, contemporary and future security challenges across the entire spectrum of conflict.

A day after taking the reins of the force, Gen Pande said the global geopolitical situation is changing rapidly "as a result of which we have multiple challenges ahead", asserting that the Indian Army, along with the Navy and the Air Force will deal with any situation jointly.

The Army Chief said he would focus on the ongoing reforms, restructuring and transformation of the Army to enhance its operational and functional efficiency besides giving importance to achieving self-reliance in defence.

The Army Chief was speaking to the media after he was presented a ceremonial guard of honour at the South Block lawns. Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari and Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar were also present at the guard of honour ceremony.

"My utmost and foremost priority will be to ensure very high standards of operational preparedness to face the current, contemporary and future challenges across the entire spectrum of conflict," he said.

His comments came in the midst of India's continuing standoff in several friction points in eastern Ladakh as well as the challenge of cross border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Army Chief said his force, in coordination and cooperation with the Air Force and the Navy, will effectively deal with all possible security challenges facing the nation.

"In terms of capability development and force modernisation, my effort would be to leverage new technologies through indigenisation and self-reliance," he said.

"My aim would be to enhance inter-services cooperation and synergy," he said, adding that the Army will actively engage with other services to positively contribute toward nation-building.

The Army Chief said he would take forward the "good works" of his predecessors, and assured the soldiers and officers that ensuring their welfare will be his key priority.

Asked about the presence of Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari and Admiral Kumar, Gen Pande referred to all the three growing up together in their formative years and that they will now work together to ensure tri-services synergy as well as to contribute to the cause of national security.

The three Chiefs are coursemates from the 61st course of the National Defence Academy.

"I have known the other two service chiefs well. It's a good beginning of synergy, cooperation and jointmanship among the three services," he said.

Asked about becoming the first Army Chief from the Corps of Engineers, General Pande said all officers of the Indian Army from its different arms and services get an equal opportunity for career and professional growth.

In senior leadership positions, all officers are trained and oriented on all aspects of war, he said.

"It is a matter of pride for me that I have been asked to lead the Indian Army. The Army has a glorious past of protecting the security and territorial integrity of the nation. In the same way, it also contributed towards nation-building," he said.

Gen Manoj Pande on Saturday took charge as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff after incumbent Gen MM Naravane retired from service.

Gen Pande, who was serving as the Vice Chief, became the first-ever officer from the Corps of Engineers to take the reins of the 1.3 million-strong force.

Before taking charge as Vice Chief of Army Staff on February 1, Gen Pande was heading the Eastern Army Command that takes care of guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sectors.

"I am aware of the big responsibility and I am praying to the God that I am given strength, capability and wisdom so that I can carry on with the responsibility," Gen Pande said.

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