A day after making his maiden visit to Siachen—the world's highest battlefield—after taking over as the Army chief, General M.M. Naravane admitted that threat of collusivity between China and Pakistan is 'maximum' in the strategically important glacier.
"We must not lose sight from where collusion between China and Pakistan can take place. We need to hold it. Though it can take place at any level, Siachen and Shaksgam Valley are the places where territory of these two countries meet. Threat of collusivity is maximum in the strategically important glacier which forces us to keep our possession," General Naravane said while interacting with media ahead of the Army Day celebrations in the national capital.
Emphasising on the need to give equal importance to western (border with Pakistan) as well as northern (border with China) borders, General Naravane said the Army is rebalancing itself to pay more attention to the northern front and added that Siachen Glacier is the land boundary where China and Pakistan could pose a joint threat.
"For years, we have been focusing on western border on the basis of threats. Now, we have to rebalance our deployment towards northern sector. Northern front with China is being given importance by moving modern weaponry. Making roads, facilitating habitats and storage of modern equipment are aimed towards capacity building in the region," the Army chief, who has earlier commanded the Kolkata-based Eastern command facing China, said.
Noting that the differences on border with China are being settled at the lowest level after the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said after the strategic guidelines, small differences are sorted locally and not allowed to escalate.
He added that the proposed hotline between the two armies will happen soon. Northern Army Commander General Ranbir Singh had visited Beijing recently and discussed setting up the hotline. Certain issued are being ironed out to have a hotline between Indian Army DGMO and their western theatre command.
On Army's strategy to handle two-front war with China and Pakistan, General Naravane admitted that they are conscious of the possibility of threats both on the western and northern side. He said in case of simultaneous threat, there would be a primary front and a secondary front.
“Our forces will be concentrated on the primary front and we will adopt more deterrent posture on the secondary front so that we are not found wanting,” he said.
“Most of of our aggression will be concentrated on the primary front and we will adopt more deterrent posturing on secondary front. We have formations which can quickly be moved from the east to west or vice-versa,” he added.
On being asked about the recent statements on India taking back Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), he referred to the Parliamentary resolution that happened long time back, which claimed the entire erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir as belonging to India.
"If the Parliament wants it, then PoK also should belong to us. When we get orders to that effect, we will take appropriate action. Army should get the mandate to do so," General Naravane said.
Commenting on the allegations of politicisation of Army, General Naravane stated that armed forces swear allegiance to the constitution of India. “We have taken oath. And that is what should guide us in all our actions, at all times. When we are fighting on the border, it is to secure this for all,” the Army chief said while adding that the Army respect the fundamental rights of the citizens. "If we remember this, then we will not go wrong in the discharge of our duties. We are an Army of the people and for the people, and whatever we do, will be for them."
While laying down the path ahead for the Army, General Naravane said his focus was on ABC — allegiance, belief and consolidation. “Allegiance to the Constitution should guide us at all times. It also translates to core values of the Constitution that is justice, equality and fraternity. Second is the belief in our organisation—our seniors and juniors. If we have belief in them, we will not fall to rumours. Then comes the consolidation. We are in a transformative stage. We will follow the policies of my predecessor. Of course, there will be course correction.”
The Army chief also maintained that their personnel are their greatest strength. "Quality and not quantity will be our mantra, be it selection of personnel or equipment." he summed up.
He also said the Army is in the process of getting six Apache attack helicopters, which will be given to the formations on the western border where there is an increased threat.