New Delhi: The Indian armed forces have taken into account a possible collusive threat from China and Pakistan and, therefore, the Army, Navy and the Air Force have taken steps on both the fronts amid tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, ThePrint has learnt.
The efforts are being driven jointly by coordination between the three services, sources in the defence and security establishment said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday addressed top IAF commanders at the Air Force Headquarters and alluded to the ongoing efforts for de-escalation at the LAC and urged the IAF to “stand ready to handle any eventuality”, a statement from the IAF said.
Complimenting the IAF commanders for maintaining the highest levels of readiness and responding proactively to the “multitude” of challenges emanating from across the borders, Singh said “rapid deployment of IAF assets at forward locations in response to the prevailing situation in Eastern Ladakh has sent a strong message to the adversaries”.
Meanwhile, sources told ThePrint that the defence minister has asked the armed forces to be prepared to respond at a short notice as well as build and sustain military capabilities to deter any adversary in the long run.
In his address to the IAF commanders, Singh also said that defence forces, in general, and the IAF, in particular, have displayed a high level of operational preparedness.
“I have no doubt in my mind that all collusive designs of the adversarial forces would be responded with full vigour and force,” a source quoted him as saying.
Sources explained that even as the LAC dispute in Ladakh has heated up, steps have been taken to counter any possible action by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) or the International Border (IB).
They said that Pakistan’s silence has been particularly surprising because they have not heated up the LoC as expected and nor have any large-scale movements taken place.
ThePrint on 20 June reported that the reason why the Army is being cautious about the disengagement with China in Ladakh is because it feels Beijing could drag the whole process through the winter and use the distraction to make mischief elsewhere, possibly in the Northeast.
“The fear is that, while China will force us to stay engaged in Ladakh, it might do something in another sector, possibly along Arunachal Pradesh. This could be coupled with pressure along the Line of Control by Pakistan,” a source had said.
Steps taken by armed forces against collusive threat
Sources said the three services have taken a number of steps along the Western front with Pakistan, and Northern and Eastern fronts with China.
Refusing to get into specific details, the source pointed out that the IAF has brought its fighters from other bases to the ones near Ladakh to focus on the northern front.
They added that half a squadron of naval fighter jets — MiG29K — have been brought to some of the IAF bases from Goa, where they are otherwise located.
These aircraft have been based in such a manner that they can cater to any threat from Pakistan as well as support the ones deployed in Ladakh.
The IAF has also sent its maritime strike variant of Jaguar fighters to the Car Nicobar Air Base under the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) as part of the preparedness.
From this Command, the Navy has the ability to dominate the Malacca Strait, which is heavily used by Chinese commercial vessels to move goods, including oil.
The Navy, too, has deployed a greater number of vessels and submarines in the Indian Ocean region, including the indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant and aircraft carrier Vikramaditya.
The Army, on its part, has been carrying out a detailed response to the threat along all the fronts.
“The steps taken by the forces take into account all possible scenarios and operational needs for defensive as well as offensive needs,” a second source said.
‘Prepared to counter short term & strategic threats’
Meanwhile, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria said the force is well prepared to counter short-term as well as strategic threats, and the units were evenly poised to counter any aggressive action by the adversary.
He noted that the response by all Commands in ensuring deployment and readiness of forces was prompt and laudable.
He emphasised on the need to focus on the ability to handle situations at a short notice for ensuring a robust response.