English News


Threat on northern borders rising, force rebalancing being carried out: Gen Naravane

Former Army chief Gen MM Naravane

New Delhi: Rebalancing of forces is based on threat assessment and there has been a movement of troops from the western front to the eastern front but it can change based on the situation and analysis of various inputs, former Army chief Gen MM Naravane has said.

He said that based on assessment, the Indian Army felt that threat from India’s northern borders is increasing vis-a-vis the western border “This analysis of likely threats and how they are going to manifest is a continuous process. Based on new inputs we keep on getting…We get new inputs based on new acquisitions made by the enemy. We also get inputs of new strategies they are adopting. Based on such things we keep evaluating the likely threats,” Gen Naravane said in ‘Podcast with Smita Prakash’.

Asked about his remarks on “rebalancing”, he said Indian Army has plans where some troops could go from the western front to the eastern front and vice versa.

“Based on those threats, what remedial measures or countermeasures we should take. And it is in that light that we felt the threat from our northern borders is increasing vis-a-vis that is of the western border. Therefore, we need to rebalance some forces. We have always had plans and place where some troops could go from the western front to the eastern front or vice versa,” Naravane said.

“It is a question of where they should be initially deployed. They should be initially deployed more to the west and go to the east or north as a contingency or they should be on other adversity first and go to the west as a contingency. That is what rebalancing is. Rather than being more west-oriented, they become now more north-oriented. That does not mean they cannot come back to the west. There is a continuous threat. We keep on evaluating. In case something changes on western front we revert to as it was earlier,” he added.

Asked if India delayed its action to counter China’s gradual encroachment moves, Naravane said, “Yes. Maybe it happened over a period of time. Things came ahead in 2020 (Galwan clash).”

Following the actions of the Chinese Army, Indian and Chinese troops clashed violently in Galwan in eastern Ladakh in June 2020 in which 20 Indian soldiers laid down their lives. The Chinese have admitted four casualties but the numbers are believed to be significantly higher.

He indicated that India’s response to Chinese aggression in Galwan Valley had showed to the world that it is possible to take on “neighbourhood bullying”.

Asked about if India’s retaliation to China during the Galwan clash diminished Beijing’s stature at the global stage, General Naravane said, “Not only the PLA, it diminished the stature of China as a country in the global eyes. After this clash occurred and we showed that it is possible to stand up to China who tries to bully its smaller neighbours.”

“Once we did that.. I think it is from Canada to Lithuania and Europe to the Philippines, everyone actually got that feeling that yes…if you are fighting for what is correct and if your principle stands, it is possible to take a stand even against China. And we do not have always to be cowed down by the might they try to project. India as a country showed to the world that it’s possible to take on neighborhood bullying. We showed, it can be done,” the former Army chief said.

Before his elevation as Army chief in 2019, Gen Naravane had held key command and staff appointments in peace and field both in the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir and has been part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka.

He commanded a Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, raised an Infantry Brigade, was Inspector General Assam Rifles (North) and commanded a prestigious Strike Corps.

Gen Naravane’s remarks came days after the attempts by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops to transgress the LAC in Yangtse area of Tawang Sector in Arunachal Pradesh with the Indian Army thwarting the attempt to change the status quo.

In the latest attempt, PLA troops tried to transgress the LAC in Yangtse area of Tawang Sector in Arunachal Pradesh on December 9 to change status quo.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament on Tuesday that the Chinese attempt was contested by the Indian troops in a firm and resolute manner.

“The ensuing face-off led to a physical scuffle in which the Indian Army bravely prevented the PLA from transgressing into our territory and compelled them to return to their posts. The scuffle led to injuries to a few personnel on both sides. I wish to share that there are no fatalities or serious casualties on our side,” he said.

He said due to the timely intervention of Indian military commanders, PLA soldiers went back to their locations.

As a follow-up of the incident, the local Commander in the area held a flag meeting with his Chinese counterpart on December 11 to discuss the issue in accordance with established mechanisms.

Rajnath Singh said the Chinese side was asked to refrain from such actions and maintain peace and tranquility along the border and the issue has also been taken up with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels.

There has been a standoff along LAC in eastern Ladakh since May 2020 due to the actions of the Chinese Army. There has been disengagement from some friction points following several rounds of military and diplomatic talks between India and China but a full resolution still not in sight which has impacted the bilateral relationship between the two countries.