'Operation alert' by Indian Army on China border

Indian Army says exercise is annual maintenance of forward posts


The Army deployment, part of a larger exercise named “Operation Alert,” involves mobilising about “50 per cent of the troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)” to the forward posts. “The mobilisation would last nearly a month,” a senior Army officer said.

The troops mobilisation comes close on the heels of a high-profile war game launched by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Beijing had deployed close to 50,000 troops in its biggest cross-country tactical mobilisation exercise that sent alarm bells ringing in New Delhi as it was seen as a Chinese effort to improve their ability to deploy troops in Tibet whenever reinforcements were required.

The Army movement in the frontier regions, though not being termed a counter-mobilisation by the Ministry of Defence, is in the wake of a series of border incidents involving periodic incursions by the PLA and at least one instance of Indian airspace violation in June this year.

Chinese ‘intrusions’

In the past months, there have been several reports of Chinese troops intruding into the Indian territory in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir creating anxiety about Beijing’s aggressive designs.

“Operation Alert is an annual exercise conducted during this time of the year to undertake maintenance of the forward posts,” another Indian Army official said.

The Indian government has, however, sought to play down the incursions, saying these were routine incidents that occur due to differences in perception between the two countries about the LAC that came into being after the 1962 Sino-Indian war. The Indian Army has 11 mountain divisions with each division comprising around 16,000 troops and are primarily meant for deployment  on the Sino-Indian border.

In June this year, the Indian Air Force inducted four Sukhoi fighter aircraft in Tezpur in upper Assam, which will soon be the base for a full squadron of the IAF’s frontline combat jets.

The Army is not allowed to patrol the border with China which is done by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) as per the guidelines of the China Study Group which includes the foreign secretary and vice-chief of the Army staff who formulate the patrolling policy towards China.

The China Study Group meets in the Military Operations Directorate of the Army Headquarters in South Block.

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