Lt General Abhay Krishna is the head of Army’s Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command, which looks after the sensitive Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim’s border with Bhutan and China, and the border with Myanmar. Lt Gen Krishna took over as the Eastern Army Commander in July, when Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in the 73-day long faceoff at Sikkim-Bhutan border and oversaw the ‘disengagement’ between the two sides in August. He spoke about Doklam, China border, Myanmar and Mountain Strike Corps in an interview with SUSHANT SINGH.
Eastern Command has been much in news because of last year’s stand-off at Doklam. How would you describe the situation at Doklam plateau now?
The readiness and reactions of the Indian Army to the Doklam stand-off has given confidence to India’s friendly neighbours to live up to their shared concerns. The situation is now normal with our stand having been clearly articulated, backed up by the readiness of the Army for any security scenario in the forthcoming season.
What are the main lessons learnt from the Doklam stand-off? Do they hold good for other areas on the LAC as well?
The need for strategic intelligence and quick decision making at all levels as a response towards any emerging security scenario demand a high level of inter-agency coordination. These are applicable to other areas of the LAC as well.
The gaps in infrastructure on the China border have been adversely commented upon by parliamentary standing committee even recently. How worried are you about these gaps? Are there any special steps that you are undertaking in this regard?
Infrastructure development with stringent deadlines to support our security concerns on the China border is a major focus area. Realigning our financial commitments to reallocate available finances towards priority areas and structured monitoring mechanisms are some special steps undertaken.
How are you looking at management of border with Myanmar? Is NSCN-K and its camps in that country still a cause of concern?
Border management is being viewed as a joint task with the Myanmar Army in the backdrop of good Indo – Myanmar relations. Intricate linkage of people’s aspirations is also being addressed through close interactions with respective State Governments. NSCN (K) Camps in Myanmar are being closely monitored along with actions by the Myanmar Army through bilateral mechanisms. Concurrently efforts are on to facilitate a dialogue process with the Government of India.
Are you satisfied with the progress of the raising and equipping of the Mountain Strike Corps?
Raising and equipping of the Mountain Strike Corps is being progressed as per predetermined operational priorities and timelines. The raising is part of planned force augmentation in accordance with our security concerns and requirements. All components including Strategic Components, are being addressed in consonance with our requirements.
What are your biggest challenges in the Eastern Command? Any special priorities that you have set for yourself as the army commander?
Eastern Command is an operational and active Command with a responsibility spanning borders with five neighbouring Countries and nine Indian States in Eastern India. Challenges include ensuring territorial sanctity along the Northern Borders while our infrastructure deficit is being concurrently addressed to meet emerging security challenges. Simultaneously retaining a close link with State Governments to provide an effective security umbrella. My priorities are towards Operational Capability and Capacity Development, raising standards of Training and Professionalism, ensuring an effective Security Environment in the North-Eastern States in consonance with the ‘Act East’ Government Policy, and ruthless implementation of financial probity in my Command.