The quest for self-reliance in defence

In the run-up to August 15, the challenge to India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty has been foregrounded in a startling, but perhaps unsurprising, manner by the June 15 Galwan setback. Chinese troops intruded into areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh region where the Indian tactical presence was thin and there is an October 1962 sense of déjà vu.

In a puzzling development, the ministry of defence (MoD) uploaded some details of the transgression by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the Ladakh region on its website on August 4. Within two days, this was removed without ascribing any reason. This lack of consistency on a grave national security matter was avoidable.

But as per media reports, the gravity of the challenge posed by PLA and its transgression in Ladakh was formally conveyed to a committee of lawmakers by the Chief of Defence Staff General, Bipin Rawat, on August 10. Currently, there is a stalemate in the de-escalation process which has compelled the Indian Army to deploy heavily along LAC and the committee was informed that this may be a “long-drawn process”.

The Indian military will have to prepare for a long haul in manning LAC so that there are no more “surprises” in other sectors. The Pakistan factor remains a perennial operational concern.

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