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PC : ORF

NEW DELHI: With China set to keep its troops forward deployed for the second consecutive winter along the frontier, especially across eastern Ladakh, top Indian generals on Monday discussed measures to maintain high operational readiness as well as further crank up logistics and infrastructure development.

The Army commanders’ conference, chaired by General M M Naravane and attended by the vice-chief and commanders-in-chief of the six operational and one training command, kicked off with an “update” by the military operations directorate.
The discussions will be taken forward over the next three days, with defence minister Rajnath Singh, chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari also slated to address the Army brass.

Operational preparedness along both the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, amidst the continuing 17-month military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, and the 778-km Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, which has seen a recent spurt in infiltrations, was reviewed during the brainstorming on Monday.

“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is preparing for the coming winter. We are also prepared for the long haul, with advance winter stocking and logistics for the forward areas already being put in place,” said a source.

“Yes, there is still a big gap in border infrastructure development on our side as compared to China. But it’s being progressively narrowed with construction of more roads, bridges, tunnels, forward helipads and ammunition storage facilities,” he added.

Deliveries of new weapons, drones, ammunition, armaments, vehicles and special mountaineering equipment have also begun under emergency procurements. Since June last year, the Army has inked 68 such capital procurement contracts worth around Rs 6,500 crore and 113 revenue procurement deals worth almost Rs 9,000 crore.

With the rapid emergence of non-contact and `grey zone’ warfare, in addition to the traditional kinetic conflicts, the conference will also focus on the induction and use of `niche technologies’.

These `disruptive’ technologies range from drone swarms, robotics, lasers and loiter munitions to artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data analysis and algorithmic warfare. China, of course, is far ahead of India in these domains.

As of now, China seems disinclined to go beyond the troop disengagement achieved in the Pangong Tso-Kailash Range region in February and at Patrolling Point-17A near India’s crucial Gogra post in early-August.

There was no forward movement in resolving the stand-off at PP-15 in the Hot Springs-Gogra-Kongka La area during the 13th round of military talks on October 10, leave aside the much more intractable ones at Charding Ninglung Nallah (CNN) track junction at Demchok and the strategically-located Depsang Plains.