Chief of Defence Staff Gen Rawat visits key forward military bases in Arunachal Pradesh

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New Delhi, Jan 2 (PTI) Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat on Saturday visited several frontline air bases in forward areas near the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh and undertook a detailed review of India's overall military preparedness in the region amid the nearly eight-month-long Sino-India standoff in eastern Ladakh.

Official sources said Gen Rawat interacted with personnel of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), the Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) deployed in the 'forward most' posts in Dibang valley and Lohit sector of Arunachal Pradesh and complimented them for maintaining effective surveillance and operational readiness in the region.

'Nothing can deter the Indian Armed Forces from remaining steadfast in their call for duty,' a source quoted the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as saying during one of the interactions.

The sources said Gen Rawat will visit several other key bases in Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday as well to gain first-hand experience of the security scenario. Most of the forward locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are currently under the grip severe cold-wave with temperatures dropping to sub-zero level.

The Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) have significantly bolstered their combat readiness in all the key formations along the LAC including in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim in view of the border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

In November, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane paid a three-day visit to various formations under the Army's Eastern Command and reviewed their overall operational preparedness. The Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command is responsible for guarding the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh as well as the Sikkim sectors.

The sources said the CDS complimented the soldiers for the innovative measures adopted to maintain effective surveillance and enhanced operational readiness.

He said only Indian soldiers could remain vigilant under such 'challenging situations' and ever willing to go well beyond the call of duty to safeguard the borders, according to the sources.

On Friday, Gen Rawat completed one year as India's first CDS, a post which was created to bring in convergence in functioning of the Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force in dealing with national security challenges.

A key mandate of the CDS was also to facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of theatre commands.

In the last one year, Gen Rawat along with the top brass of the three services carried out ground work to establish an air defence command and a Peninsula command initially. The IAF will helm the air defence command and all-long range missiles as well as air defence assets will come under it.

The CDS has been part of the top military brass framing strategies to enhance India's military prowess in view of the eastern Ladakh row.

Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh as multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have not yielded concrete outcome to resolve the standoff.

China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials.

The eighth and last round of military talks had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points. PTI MPB ANB ANB