India-China DGMO hotline soon

India-China DGMO hotline soon

A hotline between the director general of military operations (DGMO) in Indian and Chinese armies is likely to come up within months.

“Surveys were carried out to set up the hotlines between the two DGMOs. It should happen in the coming months,” Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said in his annual press conference on the eve of the Army Day.

Establishing an exclusive telephone link between the two top Army officers is considered one of the confidence building measures between the two armies that fought a bitter war in 1962.

Last year, two new border personnel meeting (BPM) points at Daulat Beig Oldie in Jammu & Kashmir and Kibithu were made operational. Another BPM point in the Barahoti plains is under the active consideration.

“Bilateral relations are improving, which is evident from many high-level exchanges in the last one year,” said Gen Dalbir Singh. However, there is no slow down on raising the mountain strike corps, a specialised force to launch offensive strike in mountainous terrain like the Sino-Indian border areas. “Raising of the mountain strike corps (17 Corps) is on schedule. It will be completed in 8 years and would be ready by 2020-21. There is no instruction from any quarters to slow down the raising and there is no budget cuts,” said Gen Dalbir Singh.

Last year, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced downsizing the new strike corps by half for want of funds. The previous government estimated it would cost Rs 88,000 crore and will have 70,000 soldiers, the NDA government froze the cost at Rs 38,000 crore over the next eight years and the strike corps will consist of 35,000 men.

Later a Parliamentary Standing Committee, too, highlighted “ad-hoc planning” on the part of the Army and Defence Ministry adversely impacting raising of the new corps. “As there are already serious shortages in the current War Wastage Reserve, which does not even cater fully to the existing demand, how could it can be further milked to create new assets like Mountain Strike Corps,” says the House Panel report.

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