Army chief downplays Chinese transgressions

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New Delhi, Oct 27 (UNI) Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor today sought to downplay transgressions by Chinese troops into Indian territory.

Speaking to reporters here at the conclusion of the week-long Combined Conference of Commanders, Gen Kapoor described regular minor incursions as a result of difference of perceptions over the border between the two countries.

According to him, both countries would hold their first-ever joint exercises in December in Chengdu in Yunnan province of China.

"The transgressions are inadvertent and take place when border patrols move by their maps and boundary perceptions," he said four days after ITBP Director General V K Joshi had spoken about 140 incidents of incursions which have been witnessed this year. "This is not a new phenomenon. There have been minor transgressions since the boundary dispute," the Army Chief said.

"The border meetings, which started recently, have been a great success. These have been extremely conducive and fruitful in breaking the ice," he said.

Gen Kapoor claimed that the Army was gearing up for futuristic combats and exigencies. He added that the joint exercises between the two forces would be followed by annual army-to-army dialogues.

Mr Kapoor said though the government kept armed forces in the loop on all strategic and security matters, it was not bound to consult army on the Indo-US nuclear deal, as it had only civil applications.

Brushing aside perceptions that the Indian army was pinned down in fighting militancy, he said though "our commitment in fighting terrorism is heavy, we have gone ahead with making our forces ready for future space wars".

Though the force may not be holding all exercises at the level of Operation Brass Tacks, the general said the army was conducting exercises at the Corps level to fine tune fighting skills and to test the ability of soldiers and officers on new hi-tech weapons systems.

The Army Chief also rubbished reports of the army having differences with the IAF over its efforts to expand its own air arm, the Army Aviation Corp.

On its plans to acquire 197 light helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of Cheetahs and Chetak choppers, he said nothing had been finalised as yet. "The plan is with the government," he added.

Asked about the army's new space vision plans, Gen Kapoor said the country's land forces as the largest user of space technology such as communications and global positioning systems had to keep pace with countries like China which were developing network centric warfare operations.

"Under the new Space Vision, we plan to have systems in place to make soldiers and officers aware of the advanced technologies involved," he said adding that the government had recently increased the financial powers of the Vice Chiefs of all services from Rs 10 to Rs 30 crore.

Gen Kapoor categorically stated that the army would not withdraw from Jammu and Kashmir. Though he added that the last word over the matter rests with the government.

If violence in Jammu and Kashmir has dropped to fifty per cent this year, he said, it is because of the presence of the army there.

UNI

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