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Sino-Indian logjam: Facts, risks, options and the sum of all fears

If winter is here, spring can’t be far behind for Indian Army to trounce China’s People’s Liberation Army. Indian forces should pay Chinese back in their own coin.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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LAC standoff
LAC standoff

China may be reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops, but it does not realise that high-altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies. Isolated more than ever before, China is already in a trap of its own making. Now, Indian forces should hold tight, maintain a low profile but stay vigilant till winter sets in. Once winter sets in, they should start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front.

Battle Indicators: Global Times’ videos indicate that PLA is rehearsing for an offensive. Air defence drills around Lhasa. Fibre optic cables being laid in Spangur. Early battle indicators. The real indicator will be dumping artillery ammunition and build up. When that happens, real business is afoot. Till then relax or chew your nails. Notwithstanding, since the Chinese are chafing to teach us a lesson. So what is in the offing?

Hardening Defences: Indian Infantry has dug in at the heights for two weeks. The defences are hardening and getting coordinated. It means overhead protection, stocking and obstacle laying. A defensive fire plan is evolving with IAF, Artillery, Tanks and Infantry Mortars in the mix. Selected and surveyed targets would be Chinese assembly areas, routes of ingress, forming up places(FUPs) for assault, enemy gun areas, HQs and more. Suffice to say that the Chinese will get a hell of a whack. The Chinese have focused on mechanisation by rote. That is contained in their White Paper as a doctrine. They did not realise that High Altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies.

I hope that Global Times’ editor is around to photograph hilarious Chinese sergeant majors blowing whistles and trumpets to commence ferocious attacks. His story will be different now — how drones used for food are being multitasked for body bag delivery. Everyone says that China will attack and teach India a lesson. Good. Let’s do some honest analysis.

Isolation Reinforced: After Wang Yi’s visit to EU states, Germany has opted on the side of democracies in the Indo Pacific region. That was inevitable. Indonesia refused to provide any bases for the Chinese. They are now objecting to Chinese transgressions in the Natuna Seas. The spat with Australia is worsening. India and Japan have signed a defence pact. The Taiwanese have warned that any more violation of their airspace will invite retaliatory action. There are reports which say that a Sino-US armed conflict is getting more real. China is more isolated than ever. Internally, Inner Mongolia continues to fester. Tibet is getting revived. Xinjiang issue is on the verge of revival. India can help both along. Hong Kong is not out of the news. The right time to ramp up the conflict with another Nuclear Power? Great Chinese strategic thinking.

Lebensraum and Persecuted Victimhood: Before Nazi offensives and pogroms, Hitler sold the ‘Lebensraum Dream’ and the ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ to Germany. Something similar is happening in China. Initially Xi Jinping sold the ‘China Dream’, pronounced a period of great strategic opportunity and started building the greatest military on earth. He brainwashed Chinese that the CCP way was the best during the Wuhan Virus crisis. Pogroms against the Uighurs are well documented. He has spoken of solidifying Tibet security and communising religion. Wayward Hong Kongers are brought in line. He pronounces that China will follow the Communist economic model come what may. He popularises himself with people by visiting them during floods. He is invoking people to overcome hardships due to denial of technologies – imported seeds for agriculture, critical components in manufacturing, dependence on oil imports, distribution of water resources and pharmaceuticals and medical equipment for an ageing population. The position of the CCP inside China is being constantly consolidated.

The emerging picture — ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ of China being denied and pushed into a corner by a disintegrating and inimically jealous world. External picture. China is ordained to rule the world. Only China can win — at any cost. Every one falls in line. Political, economic, diplomatic or military coercion works, always and every time. China will expand based on some mythological irredentism. ‘Aggressive Lebensraum’. The world, ravaged by the Virus from China is being herded into a corner to establish Chinese supremacy. Everything is Xi centric to rule the world. A bipolarity is emerging. Internal portrayal of being unfairly cornered and an external reality of coercively cornering everyone. Such a diabolic schism was last seen in Hitler’s Germany. Nitin Gokhale was right. The transformation to Xitler is complete. We should know who we are dealing with. “The Man Who Would Be King” not by Rudyard Kipling!

Xitlerian Concept: In the Xitlerian concept, India has no right to defend itself. It must subjugate itself to the lord and emperor of the great Chinese people. If not, be prepared for punishment. The great PLA will defend every inch of Chinese terri- tory recently usurped from India by attacking and punishing India for India asking vacation of its territory. The Idea is to take what it wants. Force an unequal piece. After all, China is the greatest. Are there risks and options in this new one sided game? 

Risks: There are four risks in this attempt to teach India a lesson. Firstly, with the available troops India can- not be taught a lesson. The fight will be long, hard and bloody. Everything will be at a cost. That cost will be collected by the US in the South China Sea who will not miss the opportunity. A firefight starts there. Taiwan could declare Independence. End of superpower China.

Secondly, after the bloody battle, even if India is defeated, the long guerrilla campaign will start. Tibet and Xinjiang will be in flames. Srinagar Valley is only 15948 Sq km. Tibet is 1.22 million Sq km and Xinjiang is 1.6 million Sq km. See the difference? China, of the nose bloodied, will have to commit a lot more of PLA to handle the situation on a real long term basis. Its entire global plans go for a toss.

Thirdly, there are very good chances that China will be taught a lesson. In fact I am confident that could happen. If they start a shooting match and India finishes it, the next stop could be Rudok. That will automatically put Tibet and Xinjiang aflame. It could also end with the CCP control over society and lead to a collapse. Fourthly, what hap- pens if China cannot force victory? The saga of defeat continues. Pakistan has the best Army never to have won a war. China will compete for that honour with its rusty iron brother. Whichever way it goes, China’s dream will evaporate. Guaranteed. Risk a war? Go ahead China. You might collapse. BTW, when does the N factor kick in?

Options: China is reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops. The area can hold that many troops only. Any further increase will diminish returns. Secondly, mountains are good for defenders. It is difficult to dislodge entrenched defenders unless there are repeated headlong attacks. China has to also decide where to attack. North of Pangong Tso or South of it. (see picture) North of Pangong Tso offers some scope for employment of armour in the Depsang Plains. However it is a shooting match without manoeuvre space. There is a fair bit of mountainous area North of Pangong Tso also. India can play some tricks, infiltrate and reverse the situation. While it may be feasible to get hold of some territory there is a good chance of losing it too for the Chinese. The key to the whole affair will be the Chusul Gateway, South of Pangong Tso. Can China dislodge us from the strategically important Kailash Range? In an area devoid of cover and a single avenue of approach the attacker is exposed (see picture — 3d view of area beyond Spangur). Headbutting will be very costly. Results will be minimal. Of course, China can expand into other sectors further South. In which case its commitment and imbalance will expand. It will slowly be sucked in and stretched to a point when a counter offensive will happen. Where? Has to be decided between USA and India. The short point is that China is already in a trap of its own making. So far China has used Sun Tsu’s maxim of winning wars without fighting. This is one war they will have to fight to win but will lose. Want to be a superpower? Bleed a little on the battlefield.

Own Option: What should we do? Hold tight. Till winter sets in maintain a low profile. Stay vigilant. Do not get complacent. The enemy is desperate. Do some talking. Stall for time. Play the Chinese game. Two steps forward and no step back. Once winter sets in, start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front. Imbalances and opportunities will surface. Incremental actions to attain tactical and strategic significance or opening up offensive options will be of great value. Create small criticalities. No Hurry. Patience. Vigilance. Go for the kill. A discredited PLA will do greater damage to China. Their soft frontline troops should be targeted. They are our Centre of Gravity. Up front within reach. Mountains offer great manoeuvre space. Develop offensive options. Beyond the Kailash range there are no great obstacles or ridge lines till Rudok and the Western Highway. The Pangong Tso gives a secure flank. At some point we must go on the counter offensive. We need to generate some options to force a recoil. I might sound outlandish. However think coolly. We have their measure. Occupation of the Kailash range has opened up options. Exploit it. They have no defences or a firm base. There are three avenues of approach to hit the Western Highway (G219) look at the map. Manoeuvre through the hills. Force them into defence. Hats off guys. Well done.

Story of India: I need to tell a story. Summer of 99. Op Vijay broke out. My regiment (all Rajputs ) was mobilised overnight from the Eastern to the Northern sector. A number young soldiers on completion of post recruit training were posted to make good our strengths. All of them reported to Siliguri. Around a dozen of them with a couple of NCOs retuning from leave were dispatched to join the regiment in the staging area. War rumours were abound. At Delhi railway station, two young soldiers (from neighbouring villages) gave the slip and went AWOL. They went home and told their mothers that they came on leave. One of the mothers suspected something unusual and quizzed her son. Out came the AWOL story. She gave him a couple of tight slaps, took him to the other village and told the other boy’s mother about it. She in turn slapped her son. How could they become AWOL from the regiment when the nation was at war? One village elder was entrusted to deposit these young soldiers with the unit. He brought them to me and said: “CO sahab inko maaf kar dena. In dono ka mathaon ne inke saath bahut gussa kiya. Rajputon ka be-izzati ho gaya. Desh ka Rak- sha karna hamara kartavya hai. Bcahhe hain. Inko asli Rajput banao aur ladai mein sabse aage le jao.” That was that and life went on. When I last visited the unit those ‘boys’ are now experienced and tough gunners and junior leaders.

The Sum of All Fears: Indian mothers will send their sons to war as a matter of IZZAT and Desh ki Raksha irrespective of caste, creed, Arm or unit. Phillip Mason called it a ‘Matter of Honour’. This spirit of sacrifice is deeply ingrained in Indian blood streams even now. It was on display in Galwan. A country which has such deep-rooted patriotism cannot be defeated by some soft ‘one child Chinese’. Why am I recounting this story? Have faith in our men they will deliver. The sum of all my fears is that some weak bellied and ill-informed politician or diplomat will develop cold feet and fritter away the gains during negotiation. That is our history. We felt diplomacy and international stature will guard the Sino Indian border in 1962. We gave back Haji Pir in 1965. We gave back 93,000 prisoners in 1971. We even went about saving Chinese ‘face’ during Doklam despite stopping them in their tracks. How wrong were we? Totally. There is a palpable fear swirling around that some jittery character will give away everything we have gained by blood sweat and tears. ‘Status Quo Ante’ of April has lost value. The Kailash Range should not be traded at any cost. It is ‘off table’ in all negotiations. We need to look at a new status post ante. That should be northwards into Aksai Chin! Stay tight. This is a defining fight for India. There is more on the cards. The Chinese need a lesson and we will give it to them. Rub their ‘face’ in.

Pakistan Preoccupation: Where are the Pakistanis? Aah! Pak Generals… Lost half their country. Partner- ing with them, the US lost its war on terror. Their advice cost the Saudis two oil- fields. They are now advising Chinese. Any guesses? Well these deep state worthies of the frontline nation are at their frontline at Papa John’s having a board meeting of their remunerative businesses with Dawood as special consultant. What is on their menu? Chinese! What about war fighting? That is for idiots.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on his blog www. gunnersshot.com.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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Defence

SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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Defence

IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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Defence

ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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Defence

IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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