Army Chief General Manoj Pande on Tuesday said higher level of preparedness, infrastructure development, infusion of technology, enhancing capabiltiy and quick mobilisation of the troops are some of the key lessons learnt from the May 2020 Galwan stand off with China in Eastern Ladakh.
Speaking at India Defence Conclave 2022, General Manoj Pande said, “If I were to mention a couple of issues, the first and foremost would be to maintain a higher level of operational preparedness at all times whatever will be the situation. Second, the importance of infrastructure development, especially along our northern borders and when I mention about northern borders I’m referring to areas in Arunachal Pradesh, the eastern side, besides Ladakh.” He added, “We also realise that there is scope of infusion of new technology and that is something we need to leverage, enhance our ability to address challenges in the future. Fourthly, what came out was also to develop our own capabilities have a strategy to operate in the grey zone, build our capabilities which is what you require to operate in grey zone. And the last one is to mobilise our troops...”
His candid response came on a query; what lessons were drawn from the stand off with China and how they were implemented.
The Army chief also expressed hope of finding "resolution to the two friction points" at Demchok and Depsang which are more complex than the recent feat of disengagement at the Patrolling Point 15. He was of the view that the resolution has to be achieved before looking at de-escalation which means return of the troops to the barracks instead of moving back to respective position commonly agreed during the talks at the commanders and diplomatic levels.
Pande also stated that in the last two years, a significant amount of enhancement of infrastructure has taken place especially in Eastern Ladakh. Sharing details, he pointed out, among others, that the Army was "able to create habitat for close to 35000 of troops", made garages for 450 tanks and 150 artillery systems which he described as "some of the landmark achievements in a short span of two years".
He accepted that "there is lots to be desired to be done in eastern sector" and for that he identified forward connectivity as one the key issues to improve and broaden roads and built bridges for carrying heavy loads and also to link valleys for reaching till LAC in Arunachal Pradesh. He also talked about improvement in aviation infrastructure and informed that helipads are being constructed in the forward areas for strategic and tactical airlifts.
On grey zone challenges, the General observed that the Army is leveraging the niche technologies towards "our capability development" and mentioned about three to four artificial intelligence based projects, such as interpretation of satellite imageries and consolidation of all surveillance and reconnaissance inputs, that are under consideration.