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Eye on China, Army mounts airborne insertion exercise at Siliguri Corridor

Source : Asian News International (ANI)

Eye on China, Army mounts airborne insertion exercise at Siliguri Corridor
An Indian Army paratrooper para dropping from and Indian Air Force transport aircraft (Image Source : @adgpi Twitter)

In a strategic signal to China, the Army on Friday conducted a major `airborne insertion and rapid response’ exercise in the Siliguri Corridor, even as General M M Naravane separately reviewed the wargame of a strike corps re-oriented to the northern borders. The Army “remains focussed on the challenges” along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) amidst the continuing 21-month long military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, though the attention of the world — including of the US-led western countries — may have been diverted to the Ukraine crisis.

“The Ukraine situation has to be seen in the context of similar attempts that could be made by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along our contested northern borders. At no stage can we afford to lose focus on the northern borders,” a senior Army officer told TOI.

Towards this end, Gen Naravane assessed the role and operational plans of the Mathura-based 1 Strike Corps, which has around 70,000 soldiers and heavy weaponry. The corps has been “rebalanced” for the LAC as the primary front, with a pronounced focus on war-fighting capabilities in high-altitude terrain, from its earlier role on the western front with Pakistan.

“This is the result of regular threat assessment and internal deliberations to re-organise and re-align forces in keeping with the Army’s mandate to ensure territorial integrity and to cater for the major augmentation of PLA forces and military infrastructure. At the same time, effective combat capability along the western front has been retained,” the officer said.

The Army has also been working to mitigate the threat to the strategically-vulnerable Siliguri corridor, the narrow strip of land that connects the northeast with the rest of India, which also came into focus during the 73-day face-off at Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction in 2017. Indian troops had then blocked PLA’s attempt to extend its motorable track towards the Jampheri Ridge, which overlooks the Siliguri Corridor.

The airborne exercise there on Friday saw a large number of “combat free-fallers” being inserted from an 20,000-feet altitude, along with logistic supply loads on precision-guided platforms, from IAF aircraft. The free-fallers then established surveillance positions to guide accurate fire onto selected enemy targets. An airborne force of 400 Special Forces personnel was thereafter deployed in rapid succession to swiftly capture objectives identified for the exercise.While the 1 Corps is now geared towards the northern sector of the LAC, the Panagarh-based 17 Corps is concentrating on a strike role in the eastern sector, including the Chumbi Valley opposite Sikkim.

“The ongoing situation with China warrants the Army re-align the operational tasking of its reserve formations to focus on the northern borders. Various situations and responses of 1 Corps were wargamed on Friday, with suitable lessons also being drawn from various modern-day conflicts across the globe,” the senior officer said.

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