Be ready for emerging challenges: Army chief

Second high-level review in just 5 days
Top Comdrs brief Rawat on situation
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 9: In less than a week, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat today held another high-level review of security situation along the borders with Pakistan with top Army Commanders at the Western Command and called for strict vigil and alert on the borders to meet with any kind of eventuality and emerging challenges.
Western Command chief Lt Gen Surinder Singh and other top Commanders briefed the Army chief about situation prevailing along the borders in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts and Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts in Punjab, which fall under the Western Command.
Troops have been maintaining very high degree of alertness along Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) with Pakistan and have strengthened their positions following Indian air raid at Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Balakote training camp at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, killing a number of militants, which was followed by Pakistan bombing on LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts.
Sources said the Chief of Army directed the formations to ensure continued state of vigilance and alertness and be prepared to decisively deal with emerging challenges that may develop. They added that Gen Rawat’s statement on emerging challenges was also quite significant though he didn’t elaborate.
However, according to sources, the emerging challenges would have figured during the high-level meeting the Army chief had with top Commanders including the Western Command chief Lt Gen Surinder Singh and concerned General Officer Commandings (GOCs).
An official handout issued by the Army said Gen Bipin Rawat today visited Western Command Headquarters and reviewed the operational preparedness along our western borders i.e. Pakistan.
“During his visit, the Western Army Commander, Lieutenant General Surender Singh briefed and updated the Army Chief on the current operational situation, prevailing security environment and preparedness of the formations, especially in Samba and Amritsar sectors.
The Chief of Army Staff interacted with officers of the Command Headquarters and complimented them for maintaining highest standards of training, operational readiness and exemplary synergy with the Indian Air Force.
The Army chief directed the formations to ensure continued state of vigilance and alertness and be prepared to decisively deal with emerging challenges that may develop, the Army handout said.
According to sources, Gen Rawat had extensive review of security situation along the western borders including activities by the Pakistani troops on the International Border as there were reports that Pakistani army had replaced Rangers at some places in the aftermath of ‘Operation Balakote’ and deployment of heavy guns by them.
“There have been reports that Pakistan has deployed additional troops on both Line of Control as well as International Border. Some of the troops have been shifted from North Waziristan and other tribal areas and deployed along the LoC,” sources said, adding that the Indian troops were fully prepared to meet with any kind of developing situation on the borders.
There were also inputs available with security agencies that Pakistan has once again moved some militants at launching pads on LoC and IB and could try to infiltrate them into Jammu and Kashmir for carrying out fidayeen attack on security installations. Pakistan, it may be mentioned, had shifted all militants from launch pads to deep inside Pakistan in the Army camps or other safer zones after Pulwama terror attack on February 14 in which 44 CRPF jawans were martyred anticipating Indian attack on the launching pads.
This was second visit of the Army chief in less than a week.
On March 3 and 4, Gen Rawat had visited White Night Corps at Nagrota followed by visits on the International Border at Samba and Ratnuchak to review preparedness of the troops and various other aspects of security situation. The 198 kilometers International Border in Jammu from Akhnoor to Lakhanpur and Punjab is, however, guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF).
Apart from the Army chief’s visits, Northern Command chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh has been regularly visiting forward areas on LoC for review of the prevailing situation on the LoC with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan army had been resorting to artillery fire and long range mortar shelling on LoC in the twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri ever since the `Operation Balakote’. Four civilians have been killed and over a dozen others were injured in Pakistan shelling and firing in Poonch district. In retaliation, Pakistan army has suffered heavy losses.