India is slowly cranking up its conventional military deterrence against China along the land border as well as the strategically located Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with the deployment of additional Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, spy drones and missiles in the northeast as well as tank regiments and troops in eastern Ladakh.
Under the overall plan to progressively boost both military force-levels and infrastructure to address the stark military asymmetry with the People’s Liberation Army, the IAF will activate its Pasighat advanced landing ground (ALG) in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.
Described as “a strategic asset” capable of operating aircraft and helicopters, the ALG will be inaugurated by junior home minister Kiren Rijiju and Eastern Air Command chief Air Marshal C Hari Kumar. “The ALG will not only improve our response time to different operational contingencies, but also the efficacy of the overall air operations on the eastern front,” said an officer.
While ALGs have also been activated in Daulat Beg Oldi and Nyoma in Ladakh, Pasighat is the fifth ALG to become operational in Arunachal. “While Ziro, Along, Mechuka and Walong ALGs are now operational, Tuting should be ready by December 31 and Tawang by April 30 next year,” said the officer.
Similarly, the government has now approved several infrastructure development projects in the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), which has suffered from politico-bureaucratic apathy and military turf wars since it was established in 2001 as the country’s first theatre command, say defence ministry sources.
India has also begun to regularly deploy its Sukhoi-30MKI fighters and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, as well as the long-range patrol and anti-submarine warfare Poseidon-8I aircraft, at the ANC, which can act as a pivot to counter China’s strategic moves in the Indian Ocean Region.
But road and rail connectivity remain a major problem along the unresolved 4,057km Line of Actual Control (LAC), which witnesses almost daily “transgressions” by Chinese troops.
Only 23 of the 73 “strategic roads” identified for construction along the LAC have been completed till now, when all the 73 were to be finished by 2012. Similarly, 14 strategic railway lines remain a mere pipedream, with the government according “in principle” approval for the construction, and undertaking a “final location survey” of four lines so far.