April 08, 2012

Call to develop roads, striking capability along border

http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=apr0212/at05
r dutta choudhury

GUWAHATI, April 1 – There is urgent need for India to develop infrastructure and striking capability along the border with China to face any eventuality, while unfortunately some major proposals for strengthening India’s striking power are pending before the Government for a long time. This was the observation of defence analyst Brig (Retd) Gurmeet Kanwal, who was the Director of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies till recently.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Brig Kanwal admitted that the border with China in the North East was neglected for a long time and even today, India lacks proper infrastructure. He pointed out that the roads leading to the international border are very narrow and often those are blocked during rainy season and winter. There is hardly any lateral road for free movement of the troops, while, the bridges along the roads in the area are not strong enough for taking the load of heavy military vehicles and equipment.

Brig Kanwal said that the bends on the narrow roads are very sharp and very often the heavy artillery have to be offloaded on the sharp bends and re-loaded again. This takes a long time to carry heavy artillery to the border areas. There is urgent need for improving the road condition and lateral roads should be constructed without further delay, he suggested.

The second problem is that the telecommunication networks are very poor in that area. Of course, satellite phones can be used if required, but that will turn out to be a very expensive affair, he pointed out.

Brig Kanwal said there is need for construction of more airfields and helipads in the bordering areas. He said that ideally, every post should have a helipad in such a terrain but India has only a few helipads in the area. However, he said that it would not be possible for transporting large number of troops by helicopters in case of any eventuality as “ we do not have enough number of helicopters and because of the weather condition, helicopters can be used in that area only in the morning hours. It will be possible to move a company of forces by helicopters, but it will not be possible to move a battalion or so,” he pointed out.

On the strength of the troops along the border with China, Brig Kanwal said that with the raising of two more divisions of the Army in Arunachal Pradesh, the strength of the Army has increased. He said that with the induction of the new forces, the defence capability of the country has increased but India is still lacking offensive capability to project power across the line of control.

Brig Kanwal said that a proposal for raising a specialized strike corps of the Army for the hilly terrains is pending with the Cabinet Committee on Security for a long time. Personnel of such a force can effectively be used not only along the China border in Arunachal Pradesh but also in Ladakh, he pointed out.

Brig Kanwal also expressed the view that India should strengthen its ground and air surveillance system along the border with China and steps should be taken to induct more missiles and rocket launchers along the international border.

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