Ten months after the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff and at a time when two National Defence Academy coursemates are heading the Army and the Air Force, the two forces are preparing to fight a war jointly against the Chinese forces opposite Eastern Ladakh sector.As soon as one lands at the Leh airfield, one can see the Indian Air Force C-17s, Ilyushin-76s, and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft flying in with rations and supplies for the troops deployed on the forward locations opposite the Chinese forces.
“The instructions from the top at Air Headquarters are clear that whatever requirements are projected by the Army and other security forces here have to be fulfilled. The results are here for everybody to see,” a senior Air Force commander posted in the Ladakh region told ANI about the combat support missions being carried out by his service.Army Chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane and Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria are coursemates from NDA days and have been thick friends since then.
An Army officer deployed in a forward area said the fact that these days, the Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and the chiefs of two services meet often to discuss and plan the action against the Chinese forces is also helping at the field level where the two forces have been operating jointly.The Army, which is deployed in eyeball-to-eyeball situations against the Chinese, is also regularly updating the Indian Air Force on the actual position on the ground to enhance their domain awareness and they have also planned some operations jointly in case the situation worsens further on the LAC, he said.
The effort can be seen on the ground as the forces are preparing to tackle both China and Pakistan along the Ladakh sector.On the road from Leh towards the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh, one could see the Chinooks flying over the Indus river to provide supplies to the Army troops stationed on the front battling both the Chinese and the extremely harsh winters.As soon as we reached close to the LAC to witness tank manoeuvres, we could see the Chinook and Mi-17V5s helicopters of the Air Force flying towards an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) there to drop supplies including panels of shelters which are being erected in the border areas to tackle harsh winters.
“Thanks to the lift capability of our helicopters, we are in a position to lift and shift the container habitat to wherever it is required to be placed at very short notice,” 14 Corps Chief of Staff Maj Gen Arvind Kapoor had told ANI during a visit to a prefabricated shelter for troops in Eastern Ladakh.Indian Air Force’s new acquisitions including the Chinook and the Apache attack helicopters are also playing key roles in the ongoing conflict with the Chinese.
“The Chinooks are supplying men and material to the border areas on a daily basis while the Apaches would come into the picture in a big way if the two sides get engaged in a tank battle in the high altitude wide valleys of the Indus and other rivers in the Eastern Ladakh sector,” the official said.Both Army and Air Force officials say that still there are areas where the two services can further improve their jointness but feel that by the time the border conflict with the Chinese gets over, the two forces would be better prepared for fighting wars jointly.