STATE TIMES NEWS
Udhampur: Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh on Friday said defence and military attaches who visited forward areas along the Sino-India border in Ladakh in October as part of a “familiarisation tour” had expressed satisfaction about the situation there.
The General Officer Commanding in Chief (GoC-In-C), Northern Command, said the armies of India and China will undertake a military exercise in December in China which was a regular annual feature.
“They (defence and military attaches) have been able to come and see the situation in Ladakh. Therefore, they were satisfied about the situation and the activities of the Government of the State and security forces,” Singh said here.
He was replying to a question posed by PTI about the tour which was held for defence and military attaches from 22 countries to Leh and surrounding areas close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China to “familiarise them” with the situation in the forward areas.
“This is part of an outreach programme at the national level. There are programmes, which are developed at the national level and people are encouraged to visit any of the locations,” he said.
The move to open a sensitive military location to the foreign officers, comes amid a dip in intrusions in eastern Ladakh this year as compared to last year when ties between India and China were affected due to the Doklam standoff.
The Indian Army conducted the ‘forward area tour’ to Leh for defence and military attaches, posted at embassies in India. Attaches from the US, Russia, France, Australia, Hungary, Singapore, South Korea, Senegal, South Africa and Nigeria participated in the tour. They were briefed on the security situation at the 14 Corps headquarters, which has a mandate of guarding the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
They were also taken to the Nanak Hill Military Station and a local brigade headquarter, besides Pongang lake. They were shown some of the military equipment being used in that region, which witnesses extremely cold weather conditions that reduces an equipment’s abilities.
Replying to another question about the forthcoming military exercise between Indian and Chinese armies, the Army Commander said the military exercise with China has been part of regular exchanges at the military level.
“This is not the first exercise. We have been doing it every year, once in China and next in India. Chinese troops come and carry out similar exercises in India. This is part of confidence building measure between two armies that have been instituted during the last couple of years,” he said.
The armies will resume their annual bilateral military exercise ‘Hand in Hand’ in December in China.
The last ‘Hand-in-Hand’ exercise took place in Pune in 2016. However, the drill did not take place in 2017 due to tensions between the two armies over Doklam, where the forces of India and China were locked in a 73-day stand-off.
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