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“The situation along the Northern borders is stable and under control, but unpredictable”
—General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff

Army Chief General Manoj Pande addressed a press conference ahead of the Army Day on January 15, summarising the year and the current scenario.

January 14, 2023 By Neetu Dhulia Photo(s): By SP Guide Pubns
Army Chief General Manoj Pande addressing the press conference

During the press conference, General Pande also touched upon the Russia-Ukraine fallout, complex relations in the global scenario, the impact of COVID, immediate neighbourhood security challenges, modernisation and transformation of the Indian Army.

"The situation along the Northern borders is stable and under control yet but unpredictable" mentioned the Army Chief. He also said Indian troops deployed along the LAC have been able to maintain a robust posture to defeat any evil design of the adversary in a firm and resolute manner. He asserted that the preparedness level of the Indian Army remained very high standard, "we have adequate forces and adequate reserves in each of the sectors to deal with any contingencies". The Army chief said both sides have been able to resolve five of the seven issues that were on the table. "We continue to talk both at the military and diplomatic levels," he added.

"We have adequate forces and reserves to deal with any situation at the borders"

He also elaborated on the infrastructure development and all-weather connectively for enabling the troops and the supplies. "Border roads are extremely critical and in the last 5 years, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed close to 6,000 km of road, pan India, out of which 2,100 km has been along the northern borders". He also stressed the criticality of the bridges and tunnels, up gradation 7,450 meters of bridges has taken place in the recent past, the number of bridges constructed by the border roads, there are five more are coming up on the Brahmaputra. Another vital development is the Frontier Highway, 1800 km long, close to the India-Tibet-China-Myanmar border in Arunachal Pradesh, which will be connecting various valleys. "Connectivity in the forward area has also improved, with 24x7, all-weather connectivity, Zoji La tunnel and the Z-Morh tunnel will link the valley to Ladakh, operational by end of the year. Atal tunnel is well known for connectivity to Leh, we also have the Shinku-La tunnel along with the Nimmu–Padum–Darcha road or Zanskar Highway, which is also in the final stages, offering alternate connectivity. We will have both sides' connectivity to Ladakh", he added. In the context of the habitat in eastern Ladakh, the army chief shared, "we have completed 52,000 habitats for the troops, there are also heated accommodations for 300-500 guns and vehicles. We are also looking at alternate hybrid solutions to meet our energy requirements".

Referring to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the ceasefire understanding, which came into being in February 2021 is holding well. He added, that cross-border support for terrorism and terror infrastructure, however, remains. In the hinterland, he mentioned that there is a marked reduction in violence parameters and the people of the state are partnering with the government in several development initiatives. The Army Chief stressed, "Notwithstanding this, we need to remain alert both at the LOC and in the hinterland". In the Northeast, peace has returned in most of the states. The economic activity and development initiatives have yielded good returns and the dividend of return of peace is also evident.

"We are fully aligned with the nation's vision for the future"

The Army Chief mentioned that this Army day is also special as this is the 75th year of Indian Independence, "besides the Indian Army carrying out its primary mandate and role. We are also fully aligned to the national vision for the future and are committed to achieving the national goals and objectives that have been set out".

He marvelled at the limitless potential of disruptive technologies. He mentioned that the year 2023 will be the year of transformation, "we have decided to undertake the transformation of the Indian Army and that essentially spans across five keys domains - starting from the force restructuring and optimisation; modernisation and technology infusion; human resource management philosophy – Agnipath, introduced mid-last year; greater emphasis on joint-ness and integration; refining and improving the system and processes to enhance the operational administrative and logistical efficiencies".

Taking 2023 as the year of transformation, Indian Army has laid a road map. "We have taken a few initiatives in this regard, we have launched the Army software for Agnipath automation at networking, integrated software that will manage and streamline the Agnipath campaign from hire to retain/retire stages. We have also aligned the project of automation and digitisation, launching another software - Indra, a data repository, a single window to integrate the database of all record offices for better HR management and decision making, Dhanvantri, Medical data management, will link all military hospitals for planning and management of patients".

Responding to a question on procurement, Army Chief shared that India is set to manufacture 6,00,000 AK-203 in collaboration with Russia in 128 months. "Russian-Indian joint venture (JV) Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd. (IRRPL) will be able to deliver initial 5000 components by March this year. About 70,000 weapons will come up first in 32 months, indigenous content will be in the range of 5-70 per cent, and we will have a completely indigenous weapon available to us".

Indian Army is looking forward to the commissioning of women into the artillery units, the Army Chief mentioned. "a proposal for induction of women personnel into artillery units has been forwarded to the government".

This year Army Day parade will be held at MEG & Centre in Bengaluru. This is the first time when Army Day is being held outside the National Capital. The parade will commence with a wreath-laying ceremony at the MEG War Memorial by the Chief of the Army Staff, General Manoj Pande. The Chief will then review the parade and award gallantry awards for individual acts of bravery and sacrifice.