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Sunday, September 20, 2020

General Bikram Singh: ‘Political efforts shouldn’t lull us into complacency’

The former Army chief called for rightsizing the Army with state-of-the-art equipment --- by not only reducing manpower and pruning existing structures but also augmenting manpower and creating new structures where necessary.

Written by Manraj Grewal Sharma | Chandigarh | Updated: June 19, 2020 7:57:42 am
china border, India china diplomacy, china border dispute, General Bikram Singh, India china foreign policy, galwan valley, General Bikram Singh (retd)

General Bikram Singh (retd), the former Army chief who had pushed for raising a Mountain Strike Corps with the capability of striking at the enemy across mountains, notably along LAC, on Thursday said that given the statements emanating from Beijing and PLA headquarters, it is apparent that China has dug in its heels and is not inclined to disengage.

“Military-level talks at various levels are unlikely to yield any perceptible results. An amicable resolution is now possible only through diplomatic and political channels. However, such initiatives should not lull us into complacency. At the military level, we should be prepared to use force to evict the PLA from the intrusion areas and effectively deal with the escalation, which is bound to occur.’’

On the ongoing plan to restructure the Army by setting up integrated battle groups, he said it should be done gradually. “We should not get strategically imbalanced while undertaking such transformation in a hurry… I feel our transformation should be need based.”

Also Read | Stick to your side of LAC: Delhi to Beijing

Gen Singh explained that till the time our disputed borders, insurgencies and proxy war are resolved, we should avoid, to the extent possible, any reduction in manpower. “In the years to come, our security challenges are going to increase,” he said.

On the Mountain Strike Corps (MSC), Gen Singh recounted how he had made a presentation on it to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). “It was approved by the CCS after a detailed discussion,” he said.

Read | Why Ladakh matters to India and China  

Emphasising the importance of the MSC, he said, “Nations empower their militaries to deter war, and should that fail, fight to win wars. Against China, the MSC would provide the requisite deterrence and enable us to launch decisive operations where necessary. Perhaps it may be worth revisiting it. As an emerging regional and global power, India must carry a big stick.”

On the situation at Galwan valley, Gen Singh said, “This area is of great importance as an intrusion here has the potential to interdict our strategic road that sustains our troops in Sub Sector North — the general area of Daulat Beig Oldie road. In any case, we cannot allow the Chinese to grab any of our areas and alter the LAC. From the satellite images, it is evident that the PLA have staged forward a brigade-size force, which ipso facto points to their intent of staying on.”

Read | Gen V P Malik: ‘Be ready for a long haul if talks don’t yield results’

He emphasised that the military must be given the necessary budgetary support to undertake its modernisation.

On the way forward, he said it is clear from PM Narendra Modi’s statements that while keeping options open for a negotiated resolution, he has conveyed a firm message to China that India shall not accept any intrusion on its soil and if necessary would not hesitate to use force.

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