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India insisted on 'complete disengagement' in all its talks with China on eastern Ladakh row: Govt

NEW DELHI (PTI): India held several rounds of military talks with the Chinese side to deescalate the situation in eastern Ladakh without compromising on its stand of 'complete disengagement and immediate restoration of status quo ante', the Defence Ministry has said.

In a year-end review, the Ministry also said that "inimical" elements "re-energised" their attempts at disrupting peace in the Kashmir valley by selective targeting of minorities and non-locals.

It said, however, proactive measures in the "non-kinetic" domain and intelligence based "kinetic operations" by the security forces resulted in countering the "nefarious" designs of Pakistan-sponsored terrorist groups.

Referring to the ambitious initiative to bring in reforms in the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, the Ministry said concerted efforts are being made to move forward from a single service approach to an integrated planning and execution.

Towards this, it said three joint doctrines have been formulated in the last one year, while four new joint doctrines namely "Capstone, Space, Cyber and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)" are at an advanced stage.

The Ministry said a 'tri-services joint working group' has also been set up to study and work out the nuances of integrating communication networks between the services.

It said a review is being done to "right-size/reshape" the units of the Army.

"Numerous rounds of talks have taken place with the Chinese counterparts to deescalate the situation without compromising on India's stand of 'complete disengagement and immediate restoration of status quo ante'," the Ministry said.

"To this effect, 13 rounds of senior military commanders' meetings have already been concluded," it said in the year-end review released for the media.

India and Chinese troops are locked in a standoff in several friction points in eastern Ladakh for over 18 months though they managed to complete the disengagement process in the Gogra and north and south banks of the Pangong lake in August and February respectively.

India has been insisting on returning to the status quo that existed before the face-off took place in early May last year.

The review listed major events, highlights of functioning of the armed forces and the government's initiative to further bolster India's military prowess among others.

On Jammu and Kashmir, the Ministry said the Army ensured that the internal situation in the Union Territory remained under control.

"In the year 2021, a total number of 165 terrorists were neutralised by the security forces in which 39 security forces personnel also laid down their lives. The normalcy so brought in by the security forces in the year 2021 was amply evident wherein the tourism as well as local employment showed a positive trend," it said.

Mentioning the developments in Afghanistan, the Ministry said the situation that emerged following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan posed a unique challenge.

It said the IAF was called upon to evacuate Indians and some other nationals from Afghanistan, adding evacuation was undertaken from Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul.

"Chaotic situation existed in Kabul as a result of the withdrawal of troops belonging to the US and its allies. IAF deployed its C-17 and C-130J aircraft for the evacuation," the Ministry said.

"A C-17 each was utilised for evacuation from Kandahar (July 10) and Mazar-e-Sharif (August 10). In addition, five aircraft (four C-17s and one C-130J) were utilised between August 15 and 28 to rescue 132 government officials, 316 Indian citizens and 126 persons of other nationalities," it said.

India had evacuated its India-based staff from its consulates in Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif before the Taliban seized control of Kabul.

The work of establishing Theatre/Joint Commands is also progressing swiftly.

The study group reports have been analysed and the implementation Roadmap is under deliberation.

On the functioning of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), the Ministry said it is striving to promote the integration of the three services through joint planning, for the best use of military capabilities.

"Military procedures are being worked out to integrate defence planning, procurement and operations. Some other measures are also being progressed to rationalise the utilisation of existing resources," it said.

It said the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in 2020 and the creation of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) remained the most significant and transformative defence reform undertaken by any government since Independence.

"Being seized of its import, the DMA has taken on the responsibility of spearheading several reforms within the military establishment towards ensuring optimum utilisation of scarce national resources, enhancing synergy and jointness between the services and steering the modernisation of the military to face the 'ever-changing challenges of modern warfare'," the Ministry said.

It said the logistics structure is being fully revamped to make it more efficient.

In this regard, three joint services study groups (JSSG) are developing common logistic policies for services that will enhance all supply chain functions such as planning, procurement, inventory maintenance, distribution, disposal and documentation.

It said a pilot project based on the establishment of Joint Logistic Nodes (JLN) each at Mumbai, Guwahati and Port Blair has already been rolled out.

"In order to enhance combat capability and balance defence expenditure, more than 270 logistic installations of the Indian Army have been closed or scaled-down, resulting in substantial savings to the exchequer," the Ministry said.

It also highlighted initiatives undertaken by the services towards empowering women including the permanent commission of women officers.

The Ministry also cited the induction of 10 women officers into the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force, deployment of women officers onboard ships and appointment of women officers in missions abroad.

It said the first batch of women naval operations officers were inducted into rotary-wing and joined the helicopter squadron INAS 336 at INS Garuda in Kochi in February.

Lt Kumudini Tyagi and Lt Riti Singh have operated onboard warships as combat aircrew.

It also mentioned the Border Roads Organisation appointing women officers to command important road construction companies (RCC) along border areas.

In April, Vaishali S Hiwase, a GREF (General Reserve Engineer Force) officer took over the reins of 83 road construction company and was employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam.

The Ministry said the National Cadet Corps (NCC) inducted one lakh more cadets in 173 border and coastal districts.

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