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Top Army commanders to review India's security challenges, situation along LAC

NEW DELHI (PTI): Top commanders of Indian Army will carry out an extensive review of the country's security challenges, including in eastern Ladakh as well as other sensitive areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, at a four-day conference beginning Monday, people familiar with the development said.

The commanders will also deliberate on the security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir in the backdrop of a spate of civilian killings in the Union Territory in the last few weeks, they added.

The conference will take place in Delhi.

The people cited above said Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane and the top commanders will review the country's combat readiness in eastern Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a bitter standoff for 17 months, though the two sides have completed disengagement at a number of friction points.

They said the Army commanders are also likely to discuss the possible impact of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan on the security of India and the region.

"The second Army Commanders' Conference of 2021 is scheduled from October 25 to 28 at New Delhi. Army Commanders' Conference is an apex level biannual event which is held in April and October every year," the Army said in a statement.

The conference is an institutional platform for conceptual-level deliberations, culminating in making important policy decisions for the Indian Army.

"The apex leadership of Indian Army will brainstorm on current and emerging security and administrative aspects to chart the future course for the Indian Army in the backdrop of the situation along the borders and challenges imposed by COVID-19 pandemic," the Army said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to address and interact with the top commanders of the 13 lakh-strong Army.

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari are also scheduled to address the senior leadership of the Indian Army on avenues for promoting tri-service synergy, the Army said.

The Army commanders are also expected to deliberate on various reform measures recommended by separate internal committees, the people said.

They said the discussions on the situation in eastern Ladakh and ways to further bolster India's military preparedness in the region are likely to dominate the conference.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020 following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

The tension escalated following a deadly clash in the Galwan Valley on June 15, 2020.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in the Gogra area in August and in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake in February this year.

The last round of military talks on October 10 ended in a stalemate, following which both sides blamed each other for the impasse.

In a strong statement after the 13th round of talks, the Indian Army said the "constructive suggestions" made by it at the negotiations were neither agreeable to the Chinese side nor could Beijing provide any "forward-looking" proposals.

Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the LAC in the sensitive sector.

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