An army exercise being conducted in the North-East Region of India
by Sridhar Kumaraswami
In an explosive revelation, a report of the parliamentary standing committee on defence has stated that in case of war, the Indian Army will take “more than a day to reach” the crucial Tawang area of Arunachal Pradesh due to a “critical situation” regarding border road infrastructure while “our neighboring countries” (an obvious veiled reference to China) can “reach the borders within two to three hours”.
China covets Arunachal Pradesh, especially the Tawang area within Arunachal, and refers to the state as “south Tibet”. This is probably the first time that the vulnerability of the Indian Army — to protect Tawang in case of a war against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — has been accepted. “The committee are dismayed to note that in Tawang area, the situation is very critical so far as the connectivity is concerned. In case of war, the Army cannot reach there in a day. While our neighboring countries can reach borders within two to three hours, our Army takes more than a day to reach there. This is a matter of great concern with regard to our defence preparedness,” the parliamentary standing committee on defence has stated, in a report submitted to Parliament on Monday. The revelation was made during concluding remarks by the committee on activities of the BRO which is now under the MoD and tasked with construction of border roads.
In other reports submitted to Parliament, the committee also mentioned how the slow pace of acquisitions has had an adverse impact on operational preparedness of the armed forces. In an important recommendation, the parliamentary committee said capital expenditure and allocation for the armed forces should be “non-lapsable and (on) roll-on allocation (basis)” for the armed forces between financial years so that crucial acquisition of weapons and equipment is not delayed. On the IAF, the parliamentary committee said the IAF now has “35 active fighter squadrons”, adding that the IAF had informed it that “by 2022, the IAF will be around just 25 (fighter) squadrons thereby losing even the slight edge over the rival neighboring nation” (an obvious reference to Pakistan).