The Indian Army, land component of the Indian Armed Forces, is one of the most capable and professional armies in the world. Tasked with defence of the homeland along the northern, western and eastern borders, it is also engaged in counter-terrorist activities in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast region of the country. The men and women in 'Olive Greens' have proven their worth against both external and internal challenges. Indian Army has also been deployed in providing aid to civil authorities during natural disasters.
The year 2020 has been full of challenges for India and the Indian Army. Covid-19 and China have been major threats for the rules-based global order and the major scene of contestation, cooperation and confrontation has shifted to Asia. India, faced with a revisionist state in the West and a revanchist one on its northern and eastern frontiers, is at the centre of the biggest clash of civilisations that is slow-burning its way to increased hostilities between democracies and an authoritarian leadership. Non-state actors instigated and trained by Pakistan also aim to spread terror within the country. The Indian Army forms a major potent force for India to unravel the complexities of this geo-strategic environment, on its way to a strong and responsible power in the comity of nations.
Unilateral and provocative actions by the Chinese to change the status quo by force, in more than one area on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), were responded to in a firm and non-escalatory way, ensuring the sanctity of our claims in Eastern Ladakh. Indian Army has maintained all protocols and agreements between the two countries, while the PLA escalated the situation by utilisation of unorthodox weapons and amassing large number of troops. Indian Army with assistance from IAF, mobilised troops including accretionary forces in a very short duration including heavy equipment like guns, tanks as also ammunition, rations and clothing. Our own engineers constructed roads, accommodation shelters and bridges to assist troop deployment. In a major skirmish in Galwan, 20 brave Indian soldiers lost their lives while preventing PLA troops from ingressing into our territory. The Chinese also suffered significant casualties. Later on 28-29 August 2020, own troops in a precautionary deployment, pre-empted Chinese expansionist designs and occupied heights along southern bank of Pangong Tso. Braving inclement weather, own troops continue to be deployed on these heights. Advance Winter Stocking (AWS) and winter preparations for the enhanced strength has been completed and troops are well entrenched to counter any misadventure by Chinese forces. While the Indian Army is prepared for any eventuality, talks are also progressing to resolve the issue in an amicable manner.
With the ‘Whole of Government’ approach adopted against the terror ecosystem and the consistent efforts of the security forces, the security situation in Jammu & Kashmir has seen progressive improvement. On one hand, high level of alertness by troops along the Line of Control (LC) blunted Pakistan’s endeavours to infiltrate terrorists into the Valley, at the same time, high tempo of kinetic operations in the hinterland ensured denial of operational space to terrorist organisations. Ceasefire Violations committed by Pakistan Army were given a befitting reply by own troops causing significant casualties to Pakistan Army. Counter infiltration grid was strengthened resulting in neutralisation of a number of terrorists along the LC. A number of attempts to smuggle arms, ammunition and contraband were also foiled along the LC.
Internal security situation in North Eastern States has improved considerably with a large number of surrenders of insurgent cadres. Excellent understanding and coordination with Myanmar (OP SUNRISE) have made it difficult for Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs) to set up camps there. The Army and other Security Forces have played a stellar role in reducing the violence levels and forcing insurgents to abjure the path of violence. These positive changes have enabled the Army to reduce its foot print in counter insurgency operations.
The Indian Army facilitated a successful National response in the fight against COVID-19, by providing unprecedented assistance both in terms of men and material. A total of 113 hospitals were earmarked Nationwide for treatment of 12,000 patients from within the Army resources. Quarantine facilities have been extended to approximately 4000 expats, who returned to the country during lockdown. COVID-19 provided the Indian Army an opportunity to help reach out to Friendly Foreign Countries also, wherein, help was not only extended in terms of specialist manpower and medicines but also COVID management techniques.
2020 has also laid foundations for one of the most remarkable and momentous changes in the functioning of the Armed Forces. The era of integration of the Army, Air Force and Navy has begun and 2021 will take it forward. All three services are doctrinally and professionally on the same level plane and efforts towards streamlining of logistics, training and maintenance capabilities are moving at full pace. The Indian Army is preparing for the battlefield of the future which will involve greater transparency, short periods of intense engagements and multi-domain operations.
A slew of weapons and platforms purchases has given an impetus to modernisation reforms within the Army which not only focus on capability but also intent in the form of force restructuring, led by a major revamp in the Army headquarters. The Indian Army is now poised to become one of the most prolific contributors to the Indian Government's 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' initiative. A host of proposals have been streamlined and fast-tracked to bring the Indian defence industry up to speed in terms of international competition. With the promulgation of the import ban list and a 'burn-the-bridges' approach towards indigenisation, it is only a matter of a few years that the Army will fight and prevail in modern warfare entirely on the strength of indigenous weapons and equipment. Not only this, the hand-holding provided to startups and MSMEs has benefited the Army in absorbing and utilising niche and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, swarming, internet of things and 5G to fight modern wars.
The Indian Army has expanded its scope of operations and is now ready to operate across multiple domains. Apart from conventional war, operations other than war also form a major part of its ambit. In securing India's borders and protecting India's interests, the Indian Army is STRONG AND CAPABLE.