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With eye on China, Rajnath Singh to review A&N defence infrastructure | India News


NEW DELHI: Operational preparedness and infrastructure development in the country’s only integrated military command at the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, which can act as a pivot to counter China’s expanding footprint in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), will be reviewed by defence minister Rajnath Singh over the next two days.
In his first visit to the strategically-located 572-island archipelago as the defence minister, Singh will be briefed by Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) chief Lt-General Ajai Singh on the overall situation in the region on Thursday, officials told TOI.

Big boost to 'defence' along LAC with China: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurates Siyom Bridge in Arunachal Pradesh

Big boost to ‘defence’ along LAC with China: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurates Siyom Bridge in Arunachal Pradesh

Apart from interacting with troops, the minister on Friday will also be visiting naval air station INS Baaz located at Campbell Bay, which is the southernmost airbase of the Indian armed forces that overlooks the crucial Malacca Strait through which China’s critical sea trade routes pass, while also dominating the Six-Degree Channel.
INS Baaz in the Great Nicobar Island was commissioned in 2012 as part of the overall policy to counter China’s strategic moves in the IOR as well as ensure security of shipping lanes.
The IAF also often operates Sukhoi-30MKIs and Jaguars from its Car Nicobar airbase, which is over 1,200-km from India’s eastern coast but overlooks the maritime boundaries of Southeast Asia, though the fighters are not permanently based there.

Rajnath Singh to inaugurate 28 different BRO infrastructure projects

Rajnath Singh to inaugurate 28 different BRO infrastructure projects

In effect, the archipelago provides India with crucial military surveillance, interdiction and operational turnaround capabilities to threaten China’s `choke-points’ in the region, a senior officer said. There are plans to progressively crank up military force-levels in terms of additional aircraft, helicopters, infantry battalions, artillery batteries, surface-to-air missile systems as well as develop the requisite military infrastructure to house them in the ANC.
“In addition to major `dual-use’ civilian projects, several military infrastructure development plans are also underway. Capability development and extension of runways at some locations to support operations by larger aircraft, for instance, are works in progress,” a defence official said. But the going has been relatively slow at the ANC, which was established as India’s first geographical unified command in October 2001 with all the manpower and assets of the Army, Navy, IAF and Coast Guard placed under a single commander-in-chief.
Internecine turf wars among the three Services, general politico-bureaucratic apathy, fund crunches and major environmental concerns have all hobbled the ANC from realising its full potential over the years. “Apart from the land borders, there is certainly the growing threat from China in the IOR. It’s critical to upgrade the ANC as India’s effective military outpost in the region,” another officer said.



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