What made China intrude in Eastern Ladakh
Brigadier (Retd) LI Singh
Contd from previous issue
(e) Keep India economically embroiled because of counter actions against the intrusions and simultaneously in combating novel Coronavirus, and in the process ensure economic recession to India leading to negative growth.
(f) Cause embarrassment to the ruling Government and ensure change by a weak coalition Government.
(g) Minimise threat to Western Highway in Aksai Chin areas from Eastern Ladakh region by consolidating the intruded areas. Xi is more than sure that India cannot make any physical move to capture Aksai Chin in the foreseeable future.
(h) Test the operational efficacy of Western Theater Command, which was raised in Feb 2016 after merging Chengdu and Lanzhou Military Regions, in coordination with Tibet Military Command and Xinjiang Military Region. This was one of the key Military Reforms as part of modernisation efforts originally planned to be completed by 2049, however, following the 19th CCP National Congress in 2017, CCP General Secretary and General Secretary and CMC Chairman Xi Zinping announced modernisation to be completed by 2035.
7. Analysis and Recommendations:
(a) There has definitely been intelligence failure at all levels ie. strategic,
operational and tactical as build up followed by intrusion in Eastern Ladakh was only detected after consolidations by China in May 2020. Why did we miss China moving troops nearly two division size force into the area to occupy in disputed areas in Eastern Ladakh. A passionate analysis need to be carried out and not swept under the carpet as was done in 1962 and Kargil.
(b) One of the pit falls in India’s existing border management during no war no peace is not placing ITBP under the operational control of the Army when the Force is guarding almost 800 km of LAC as a first line defence in Eastern Ladakh. This need to be streamlined for timely rapid flow of information to the Army responsible for defence of 3,488 km long LAC. Combined with this is the lack of surveillance measures including satellite cover and drones. One of the instruments for gaining information at strategic and operational level is by surveillance through satellites and drones. The existing shortfall need to be addressed immediately.
(c) Xi Zinping never anticipated the major economic retaliation by India in terms of banning 59 Chinese Apps and cancellation of various projects which were to be undertaken by Chinese firms, besides boycotting Chinese manufactured goods. These actions really hurt the Chinese and India must continue to put pressure on them.
(d) The knee jerk actions of resorting to panic buying of war machinery and instruments by India need to be curbed. There is a requirement of having a long term perspective plan for modernistaion of Indian Armed Forces, reviewed periodically, with adequate yearly allocation of defence budgets. In fact military modernization need to be in sync, directly proportional to overall economic growth, like what China did in 1977 by Deng Xiaoping as part of reformation and modernization.
(e) Modernization of the Armed Forces cannot be in isolation without improving infrastructure along the border areas. A time bound long term plan is required to give fillip to line of communications, both lateral and vertical, and other dual usage infrastructure along the Indo-China border. This will facilitate rapid movement of troops when required, instead of committing troops permanently in holding role.
(f) India must have a mix of manufacture as well as consumer based economy, with higher percentage towards manufacture so as to hurt the Chinese. A separate Ministry monitored by the PMO may be created to streamline the policy for the time being. This will woo foreign based companies from China to India.
(g) India must not commit additional troops in holding role to counter the Chinese along the border. By doing so we will be falling into the trap and design planned by the Chinese. Additional troops in holding role may be resorted to as a temporary measure. Instead we need to place acclimatized troops as reserve, sector wise, for rapid application as per requirements. For this good line of communication along the Indo-China border for timely move of troops along with foolproof surveillance for assured advance warning is a necessity.
(h) India is unlikely to resort to any physical action against China, but if conflict starts in SCS, China may resort to more physical action against India to ease pressure. For such a scenario India must be prepared and be ready for massive retaliation or pre-emptive strike as part of offensive defence.
The writer, YSM (R) served in the Indian Army for 36 years. He commanded Watershed Brigade responsible for Doklam Plateau and was Col General Staff of a Mountain Division responsible for West Kameng district. Views are personal.