SINO-INDIAN LOGJAM: THE UNLIKELY RETURN - The Daily Guardian
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SINO-INDIAN LOGJAM: THE UNLIKELY RETURN

For any aspiring superpower like China, being forced to vacate a captured area is demeaning. Especially, after advertising the captured areas as sovereign to it. Notwithstanding all the spin and propaganda, this withdrawal will rankle the Chinese. They will itch to come back and sort us out. India should be prepared for that.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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The Sino-Indian logjam is under disengagement. It has proceeded smoothly so far. The common question is: What will the Chinese do next? Is their withdrawal part of a larger strategic design? Will the Chinese regroup and get back at us? If so, what will they do? All these valid questions stem from one fact—the Chinese cannot be trusted.

China came to overpower India militarily. However, it was surprised by the Indian response and forced to withdraw. For any aspiring superpower like China, being forced to vacate a captured area is demeaning. Especially, after advertising the captured areas as sovereign to it. To quote Sun Tzu, India has subdued China without fighting. That is the acme of skill. Notwithstanding all the spin and propaganda, this withdrawal will rankle China. They will itch to come back and sort us out. Hence, we need to assess as to when and what they can do, if at all. It is only then that we can come to some logical surmise.

POLITICAL FACTORS

Political success or failure is not guaranteed by a win or loss in war. Churchill was voted out despite success in WW2 and Saddam Hussein continued in power despite losing in Gulf War1. Both are high risk professions with unpredictable outcomes. Will Xi Jinping take a risk to pick up a bone with India militarily in the CCP Centenary year? He will be busy in all probability, consolidating his ‘reign for life’, which could now come under a shadow. The Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled in 2022. There is talk of boycotting them due to human rights and genocidal issues in Xinjiang. They are being equated to the Berlin Olympics during Hitlers period. Another conflict with India will highlight the Tibetan plight. China’s behaviour in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics is noteworthy. They went to extraordinary lengths to put on the ‘good boy’ act. Politically, a war / conflict/ skirmish with India will not be in their playbook. In fact, the current disengagement indicates acceptance of military losses to retain political face.

STRATEGIC PRIORITY

The first strategic priority of China is Taiwan and the South China Sea. Eastern Ladakh is their least strategic priority as per their White Paper of 2019. Any action here is at the cost of their main priority and might put them in a two-front situation. For all inexplicable reasons, they got into a two-front situation with eyes wide shut and could not achieve their aims. Obviously, a heavy miscalculation. A major commitment along the LAC in future does not guarantee success. Further, they have to assess their own economy and the Virus situation. The future does not seem as certain for China as it was in April 2020 when it was the only country which had a grip over the Virus. Their geopolitical situation is not improving. To remount an adventure into India anywhere else in the near future is difficult to imagine.

TIBET FACTOR

Any conflict with India destabilises not only the border areas but also hinterland Tibet. In this conflict itself, the Tibetan issue has been raked up. There have been calls in India for using the Tibet card. So far India has not used it overtly despite the US raking it up. A return to conflict might see India using the leverage of Tibet in an overt and planned manner. Then they will be stuck in an escalating hybrid situation. Hence Xi Jinping’s programme to ‘solidify Tibet’ and his legacy will be in jeopardy. If Tibet is hyphenated with Xinjiang, as it will, there will be further problems. Forget one China. We might see many Chinas! Will China risk it?

QUAD-US FACTOR

Conflict with India has propelled the formation of Quad and has strengthened India-US strategic partnership. Through de-escalation of the current situation, China hopes to stem the tide. India has been the reluctant partner in the Quad. If China rekindles the conflict, then India will lean conclusively totally towards the US and Quad. A loosely aligned Quad can turn into an Asian NATO which China fears.

INDIAN NON-MILITARY RESPONSE

Indian strategic confidence has grown. China was clearly surprised by India’s non-military response through digital strikes and economic actions. This lead was followed by many countries The Indian public was antagonised. Many Indians / PIOs have gained prominence internationally. The anti-China wave prevalent in Indians/PIOs could force multiply the international anti-China sentiment. Overall, the implications are far reaching. Surely China is aware of the risk.

INFRASTRUCTURE

China undertook this misadventure probably with the premise that Indian infrastructure was poor, the Army was ill prepared, poorly equipped and badly affected by the Virus. The misadventure was undertaken from a relatively stronger position. Their superiority in Comprehensive National Power should have guaranteed them victory. However, they could not even achieve their aims (whatever they were) despite obvious military advantages. Conversely, with time, Indian infrastructure and preparation improved. The Chinese edge was bunted. Improvement that was to happen in 5-10 years was fast forwarded in 9 months. With improving military capacity and border area infrastructure the gap between Chinese and Indian capability will further narrow. The Indian outlook is shifting to an offensive one and its defenses will become formidable. As this happens, the chances of an easy land grab and coercion will keep receding. If China could not enforce victory when it had all the cards, can it do so as India grows stronger?

PSYCHOLOGY OF DEFEAT

By now the psychology of defeat would be setting in. They lost in Natu La. They lost in Sumdorong Chu. They lost in Doklam. They have lost in Eastern Ladakh. Notwithstanding all their propaganda, external posturing and internal showcasing through fake videos, their leaders know the realities of outcomes. Soon they will be into analyzing this defeat- strategically and tactically and wondering as to how to defeat Indians. Every attempt has been repulsed. Their politico-military leadership will not only be perplexed but heavily demoralized. We have learnt from our defeat in 1962. It is time for China to learn from four ‘salami slices’ of defeats. Recovery from this psychology will be difficult. I doubt if they have a Manstein to deliver a ‘Backhand Plan’.

MOMENTUM

Ever since November, the Chinese have been wanting to disengage. When disengagement was agreed to, they went back in an unseeming hurry after being forced to raze their defenses. Such a disgrace. The Mass of PLA went with an astounding rearward Velocity. Now, Mass x Velocity is Momentum. This rearward Momentum is difficult to stop or reverse. It is a mixture of the mental and the physical. On the other hand, the speed with which India could mobilise and stymie the PLA indicates a ‘controlled’ forward Momentum. As time passes and infrastructure improves, this Momentum will be overbearing. Also, the lack of PLA willpower, and battlefield stamina was apparent throughout the campaign. The ‘Stability at the Top, Instability at the Bottom’ paradox of the PLA revealed itself. They never came to grips with the environment. A defeated army will take time to recover. There will be some deep analysis at tactical levels. I suspect heads of scapegoats will roll to add to the tally of their casualties in Galwan and due to the Himalayan weather. Honoring a few people for their bravery to assuage the internal audience is only lip gloss.

QUALITY OF SOLDIERS

A very major differentiative factor in this episode has been the quality of soldiers. The Indian soldier has come out to be experienced, steadfast, tough, hardy, motivated and well trained and mobile in mountain warfare. The Chinese soldier has come out to be a relatively static weakling unable to cope with the harsh reality of terrain. High-altitude fighting is not a joke. All this without even a shot being fired. The Chinese ‘single child’ soldiers might not be steady under fire. I suspect that they will break fast. I am sure the Chinese know it. The PLA can be well kitted and equipped. Unless they have good troops, they will not win. Unless they have good leadership, they will lose. The man behind the machine matters. My personal opinion of the PLA: ‘Nalayak ka Basta Bhari’.

THE FUTURE COURSE

Disengagement is still a work in progress. Leaving that aside and taking all these issues into consideration it is my fair surmise that China will not be keen to rake up a major issue till 2023. They will have to rethink, reorganise, retrain and rebuild. In the meantime, we should evolve to a higher level of overall preparedness. Will things be quiet till then? No. We must expect pinpricks and probing aggression all along the LAC. China will take advantage of any weakness. What we can also realistically expect is military moves through Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. Expect a whole lot of anti-India propaganda and influence operations. Of course, at any stage the situation can go out of control due to any incident and result in an escalation. That is a different matter. In all cases we should not let our guard down but be fully prepared all along the LAC. Chinese are as untrustworthy as hell. And. Do not forget those weasels—the Pakistanis.

PREDICTION RATIONALE

In one of my initial articles I had written: “That there are two likely outcomes. The standoff ends at a table and China withdraws to resume an unmanned LAC or we end up with a manned LAC.” Well. China is withdrawing beyond Finger 8 and we are moving to a semi-manned LAC. Since those initial days I have steadfastly written in support of the Indian armed forces. There were many within the Services who were incredulous at my thoughts. There have been many comments and responses to the effect that I am pro-government, pro-establishment, a hawk, pro-ruling party and so on. I am none of these. Post-retirement, I took up military analysis as a hobby. My hobby is an extension of lifelong service with the Indian armed forces (they continue to teach me), three decades of studying China and multiple postings/assignments along the LAC from the Karakoram Pass to Kibithu.

I applied Sun Tsu’s teaching: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” I then factored in the reality of the Himalayan terrain. Ergo. The results were foregone long back. The Chinese never knew themselves nor their enemy and much less of the terrain. They have succumbed. If they come back to fight in a hurry they will succumb again. Sun Tsu will have to reincarnate and coin a saying—“Losing without Fighting” for PLA to adopt.

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 www.gunnersshot.com.

Disengagement is still a work in progress. Leaving that aside and taking all these issues into consideration it is my fair surmise that China will not be keen to rake up a major issue till 2023. They will have to rethink, reorganise, retrain and rebuild. In the meantime, we should evolve to a higher level of overall preparedness. Will things be quiet till then? No. We must expect pinpricks and probing aggression all along the LAC. China will take advantage of any weakness. What we can also realistically expect is military moves through Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.

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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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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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