New Delhi: The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict reaffirmed the significance of land warfare and the domain will remain “extremely important” in India’s case as well as for countries having contested borders, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said on Thursday.
In an interactive session at an event, referring to the situation along the Line of Actual Control with China, he said the border situation remains stable and that his force is focusing on boosting its overall combat capabilities to effectively deal with any future security challenges.
Delving into global geopolitical upheavals, the Chief of Army Staff said the key lesson that the Army has learnt from Russia-Ukraine conflict is that it can’t rely on import of military hardware and achieving self-reliance in defence is very important.
He described the Indo-Pacific as a key region and noted that India has an important role to play.
The Chief of Army Staff was speaking to Lt Gen Raj Shukla (retd) at the curtain-raiser for the first Chanakya Dialogue. He said the first batch of 40,000 Agniveers have joined the units and the feedback on them from the field units has been encouraging.
To a question on increasing global focus on the maritime domain while both Russia-Ukraine war and Hamas-Israel conflict have the dimension of land, Gen Pande said land warfare will remain crucial in the Indian context. Though he chose not to make specific reference, it was clear the Army Chief was indicating the border issue with China.
“I mentioned about the lessons we drew from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. And if I can delve on one of the key lessons — I think land will continue to be a key domain of warfare, especially in cases where you have contested borders just as in our case,” Gen Pande said.
“I think the victory marker will have to be in the land domain. The salience of land domain, I think, is going to be extremely important in our case,” he said.
Talking about India’s rising global profile, Gen Pande said India will continue to play a key role in the Indo-Pacific region.
“With the enhanced stature, we will have additional responsibilities and with this we will have certain challenges to encounter,” he said.
The Chief of Army Staff said “In all of this, we need to remain proactive rather than responding or reacting. We should be able to shape our strategies.”
He said there will be responsibilities, opportunities and challenges for India in the Indo-pacific.
“I think the nation is on the rise, be it the economic growth, technological progress or the influence that the nation wields in the world arena,” he said.
The Army Chief described the last one year period for the Army as “challenging yet satisfying”.
“As far as the operational situation is concerned, on the borders, I would say it is stable and we have dealt with internal security challenges in a manner that is expected of us,” he said.
The Chief of Army Staff also noted that the ongoing reform process in the Army is being implemented as planned.
“About a year back, we spelt out our transformation roadmap. In that we defined five distinct foundations as pillars of transformation,” he said.
“These were restructuring and right-sizing of the force, modernisation and technology infusion, refining and improving our systems and processes to improve combat and functional efficiencies, jointness and human resources management,” he said.
The Chief of Army Staff said the progress of the reform process has been good.
He also listed technology infusion into his force as a key focus area.
“We need to be better prepared and future ready to be able to meet future security challenges,” he said.