India changes rules of engagement along LAC
Days after a violent clash with China in eastern Ladakh, India has changed the rules of engagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to allow field commanders to approve the use of firearms under "extraordinary" circumstances. As per the new Rules of Engagement, commanders deployed at LAC can give soldiers "complete freedom of action" to handle situations at the tactical level. The commanders can allow use of firearms and have full authority to respond to extraordinary situations using all resources at their disposal.
- Earlier, external affairs minister S Jaishankar had said that armies of the two sides do not use firearms as per provisions of two bilateral agreements sealed in 1996 and 2005.
- All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving the post. Those in Galwan on June 15 did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 and 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs, he had said in response to claims that Indian soldiers were sent to the LAC "unarmed".
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the Army has been given full freedom to deal with the situation on the ground.
- In a related development, the government has also granted the three services additional financial powers of up to Rs 500 crore per procurement project to buy ammunition and weapons in view of the tense border standoff with China.
- The Vice Chiefs of the three services have been given the financial powers up to Rs 500 crore per project to acquire the required weapon systems under fast-track procedures needed to fill whatever shortcomings or requirements are felt.
- A violent face-off took place between the Indian and Chinese armies in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15 in which 20 Indian military personnel were killed, significantly escalating the already volatile situation in the region.
- According to US intelligence sources, more than 35 Chinese soldiers were also killed during the skirmish.