Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane, Chief of Naval Staff Adm Karambir Singh and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Mshl RKS Bhadauria at the National War Memorial.

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New Delhi (PTI): The Indian Army will stand firm against any attempt to “unilaterally” change the “status quo” at the borders and its desire for peace and tranquillity should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness, Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said on Thursday, remarks that came against the backdrop of the Ladakh standoff with China.

In a clear message to China, the Army Chief said no one should make any mistake of testing India’s patience though it is committed to resolve the border standoff along the northern frontier through talks and political efforts.

In an address at the Army Day parade, Gen Naravane said a “befitting response” was given to the “conspiracy” to make unilateral changes on the border and that the sacrifice of the Galwan heroes in eastern Ladakh will not go waste.

He said the Army was swift and decisive in its response to the design of the adversary but at the same time prevented the military stand-off in eastern Ladakh from escalating further.

Referring to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, the Chief of Army Staff said the Army shall not hesitate to strike at the very source of terrorism to safeguard India’s interests.

Gen Naravane said he was confident that the Army’s military character built on secular credentials, robust discipline and astute professionalism will continue to strengthen the force in meeting the aspirations of an emerging India.

The Army Chief said the armed forces remained vigilant and determined to maintain “operational ascendancy” across all of India’s borders, be it the Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC), AGPL (Actual Ground Position Line) or the international border (IB with Pakistan).

The Indian Army shall not hesitate to strike at the very source of terrorism to safeguard our interests, Gen Naravane

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“We will stand firm against any attempt to unilaterally change the ‘status quo’ at our borders, as is evident from the fact that the Army was swift and decisive in its response, while at the same time, preventing the stand-off from escalating further,” he said.

“We are committed to resolving disputes through dialogue and diplomacy. However, our desire for peace and tranquillity should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness,” Gen Naravane said without naming China.

In a clear reference to Pakistan, he said the scourge of state-sponsored terrorism has been effectively countered by relentless operations, both in the hinterland and across the borders.

“The message is very clear: ‘The Indian Army shall not hesitate to strike at the very source of terrorism to safeguard our interests’,” he said.

The Chief of Army Staff said the past year has been full of challenges and opportunities.

“Our active borders have repeatedly tested our resolve and resilience. The Indian Army has been steadfast in safeguarding the security and territorial integrity of our nation. Our brave Officers, JCOs (junior commissioned officers) and soldiers have given a befitting reply to our adversaries, many laying down their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army,” he said.

Gen Naravane said the Indian Army has carved a special place in the national conscience as an institution that prides itself in upholding its core values and ethos.

“I am confident that our military character built on secular credentials, robust discipline and astute professionalism will continue to strengthen us in meeting the aspirations of an emerging India. We will forever remain firm in our resolve to uphold the trust reposed in us by the nation.”

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Gen Naravane said the operational challenges have been further exacerbated due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With its wide footprint across the country, the Army was able to considerably augment the national effort,” he added.

Talking about modernisation of the force, he said the future demands a well-trained, modern and capable force supremely committed to the nation and “jointmanship” will be fundamental to achieving success on the battlefield.

“We have undertaken a number of steps towards force modernisation and restructuring. These include focused capability enhancement of the Army through emergency and fast track procurements and rapid development of infrastructure. These efforts have greatly enhanced our operational preparedness,” he added.

“Our families too have risen to the challenges faced by us and have been steadfast in their support to their husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. We are equally grateful to you all. You are the bedrock on which we are able to perform our duties and face these challenges,” he said.

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