By Atul Aneja
New Delhi, Sep 12: Chinese and Indian troops are set to complete disengagement from friction points Gogra and Hot Springs on Monday, but ahead of the event, Army Chief Manoj Pande has sent Beijing a message.
Making it plain that India was disengaging from a position of strength, Gen. Pande during his visit to Eastern Ladakh over the weekend travelled in a US-made Apache helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Apache is arguably the best attack helicopter in the world, capable of flying in all-weather conditions both during the day and night. It carries a heavy weapon load including the deadly Hellfire missiles, whose variant was used recently to kill terror kingpin Ayman Al Zawahiri in a Taliban safehouse in Kabul.
The Gogra-Hot Springs disengagement has been carefully timed, just ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand on September 15, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President Xi Jinping will be present.
On Sunday, the Ministry of External Affairs announced that PM Modi will be attending the summit. It added that the, "Prime Minister is also likely to hold a few bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit."
It is, however, unlikely that Modi and Xi will meet on the sidelines of the summit. India has demanded that the status quo ante be restored on the Line of Actual Control, which is only possible if the Chinese troops pull back forces to their peace locations before their intrusions in end April/May 2020. President Xi is also heading for the 20 th Party congress next month, where he would not like to look "weak" due to troop pullbacks from the border.
On Sunday, The IAF briefed Gen. Pande about the flying characteristics of the Apache, which has been deployed in the Ladakh sector since the beginning of the military standoff.
The IAF has 22 of these machines. The Indian Army will also buy six of these choppers. Army teams led by the Director General of Army Aviation were in the US for training.
In a further demonstration of preparedness, General Pande on Saturday witnessed Exercise Parvat Prahar, and was briefed about operational preparedness by commanders on the ground.
Separately, the South Western Command of the Indian Army released a video on Sunday which showed troops laying a bridge over the Indus river in eastern Ladakh.
Heavy trucks then cross over the bridge once it is completed. Army personnel engrossed in teamwork can be seen in the exercise while heavy trucks cross the terrain after the bridge has been completed.
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( 452 Words)