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Central panel suggests armed forces� capacity building along borders

By R Dutta Choudhury
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GUWAHATI, July 29 - The committee formed by the Central government for suggesting measures to enhance the combat capabilities of armed forces and rebalancing defence expenditure of the country, has recommended immediate steps for capacity building along the international border with China as India is still lagging far behind the neighbouring country in this regard. It has also called for setting up an integrated theatre command in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to have control over the sea and another in the western sector to deal with the problems arising out of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The committee, headed by Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekhatkar, pointed out that capacity building takes time and China used the last 25 years to extensively increase its capacity, particularly infrastructure right up to the Tibet-Myanmar-India tri-junction in the eastern sector and up the Karakoram pass and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the western sector. The capacity building included construction of road and railway network, creation of supply chains, airports and infrastructure to fight in high altitude. The committee is of the view that India must expedite capacity building immediately to deal with the situation that may arise any time.

When contacted by The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar justified the need for capacity building and said, �China respects power and firmness and the Government of India must take immediate steps to improve infrastructure along the international border. That is why the committee headed by him had suggested such measures.� He expressed the view that for some reasons, the attention of the Indian government was only towards Pakistan and the political and diplomatic leadership of India did not pay much attention to capacity

building along the international border with China. That is why, India is still lagging behind China in this regard, he said.

The report of the committee also mentioned about the Chinese interests in Bhutan and the steps that need to be taken to deal with the situation. However, Lt Gen Shekhatkar refused to comment on the issue because of the present standoff between India and China in Doka-La and said, �since we already have a standoff in the area it is not the appropriate time to comment on the strategic Chinese interest in Bhutan. Efforts are already on to resolve the issue at the highest possible level.�

The report of the committee also outlined the Chinese interests in Myanmar and the impact those can have on India. China has been building roads, ports, etc., and has considerable impact on the economy of Myanmar. China also has a radar station in Myanmar and all these may have an adverse effect on India in the days to come, the report warned.

The committee pointed out that the maximum areas of dispute with both China and Pakistan are in the snow-covered mountains. It is a well known fact that the mountains eat away human resource and there are limitations of the effectiveness of technology use in such areas. That is why, the committee has not recommended reduction of combat forces of India. At the same time, the committee underlined the need for improving the capacity and capability of the strike forces for special operations whenever required.

Justifying the need for setting up integrated theatre commands, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that the United States has set up such command theaters in different parts of the world. As India does not have such interests in foreign countries, there is no need for setting up such theatre commands abroad. One such command, may be headed by a naval officer, can be set up in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to have control over the seas as a long time strategy, while another, may be headed by an officer of the Air Force, can be set up for the western sector for keeping an eye on the threats coming from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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Central panel suggests armed forces� capacity building along borders

GUWAHATI, July 29 - The committee formed by the Central government for suggesting measures to enhance the combat capabilities of armed forces and rebalancing defence expenditure of the country, has recommended immediate steps for capacity building along the international border with China as India is still lagging far behind the neighbouring country in this regard. It has also called for setting up an integrated theatre command in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to have control over the sea and another in the western sector to deal with the problems arising out of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The committee, headed by Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekhatkar, pointed out that capacity building takes time and China used the last 25 years to extensively increase its capacity, particularly infrastructure right up to the Tibet-Myanmar-India tri-junction in the eastern sector and up the Karakoram pass and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the western sector. The capacity building included construction of road and railway network, creation of supply chains, airports and infrastructure to fight in high altitude. The committee is of the view that India must expedite capacity building immediately to deal with the situation that may arise any time.

When contacted by The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar justified the need for capacity building and said, �China respects power and firmness and the Government of India must take immediate steps to improve infrastructure along the international border. That is why the committee headed by him had suggested such measures.� He expressed the view that for some reasons, the attention of the Indian government was only towards Pakistan and the political and diplomatic leadership of India did not pay much attention to capacity

building along the international border with China. That is why, India is still lagging behind China in this regard, he said.

The report of the committee also mentioned about the Chinese interests in Bhutan and the steps that need to be taken to deal with the situation. However, Lt Gen Shekhatkar refused to comment on the issue because of the present standoff between India and China in Doka-La and said, �since we already have a standoff in the area it is not the appropriate time to comment on the strategic Chinese interest in Bhutan. Efforts are already on to resolve the issue at the highest possible level.�

The report of the committee also outlined the Chinese interests in Myanmar and the impact those can have on India. China has been building roads, ports, etc., and has considerable impact on the economy of Myanmar. China also has a radar station in Myanmar and all these may have an adverse effect on India in the days to come, the report warned.

The committee pointed out that the maximum areas of dispute with both China and Pakistan are in the snow-covered mountains. It is a well known fact that the mountains eat away human resource and there are limitations of the effectiveness of technology use in such areas. That is why, the committee has not recommended reduction of combat forces of India. At the same time, the committee underlined the need for improving the capacity and capability of the strike forces for special operations whenever required.

Justifying the need for setting up integrated theatre commands, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that the United States has set up such command theaters in different parts of the world. As India does not have such interests in foreign countries, there is no need for setting up such theatre commands abroad. One such command, may be headed by a naval officer, can be set up in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to have control over the seas as a long time strategy, while another, may be headed by an officer of the Air Force, can be set up for the western sector for keeping an eye on the threats coming from Pakistan and Afghanistan.