New Delhi: Army Chief General M.M. Naravane has announced plans to draw down all his regular forces deployed in counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and internal security duties from the Northeast in the next 18 to 24 months. He said the Army would focus on “conventional warfare”.
“The North-East is going through a very transitional phase, for the good. The security situation is improving as shown by the recent surrender of 600 members of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and other groups,” Naravane told The Indian Express Wednesday.
“We are working on a plan for the next 18-24 months on how to draw down regular forces from CI/CT/internal security duties there,” he said.
Two battalions have already been taken off these duties. The next “drawdown” is expected to begin after the Bodoland elections in Assam in June-July, the Army chief said.
Naravane also asserted the Army’s commitment to the “long-term objective” of focusing on “conventional warfare”.
The statement came two days after the Narendra Modi government signed a peace accord with one of the dreaded insurgent groups of Assam, the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), and the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU).
Plans for Kashmir
Asked if a similar move was planned for the Kashmir valley, Naravane said, “As I have said even earlier, the primary task is conventional warfare and that is our long-term goal. CI/CT is a short-term and immediate goal. We have not lost sight of long-term goal while focusing on short-term goals.”
The Army chief added that ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) have increased since the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in August last year.
“Attempts are being made for terror activities (by Pakistan). Incidents on the LoC have increased as they are under pressure that they have lost Kashmir. It is desperation on their part as situation is better in Kashmir. Stone pelting, ambushes, IEDs, all the incidents have come down,” he said.
In view of the upcoming Union Budget 2020-21, M.M. Naravane said the Army has sent its budgetary requirements. “…the government will look into all aspects in light of the prevailing security condition and we are quite confident that we will get what we need to keep the nation safe and secure.”
He added, “…whatever the Budget, we will continue to be modernised and operationally prepared.”
The Union Budget is set to be presented Saturday.
Rebalancing towards China border
The Army chief also said there was a need for rebalancing towards China border “to ensure peace”. The rebalancing, he said, should be seen in a larger perspective and “not merely in terms of the numbers”.
“…we have to be prepared for war. We have to be ready to take certain actions when time comes. We have to be prepared,” he added.