India has a long border with China. To be precise the border is 4057 km long and is not yet delineated. The border is a legacy of the British rule and certain parts like Arunachal Pradesh are not recognized by China as a part of India. They claim it as part of Tibet.
To offset this Chinese claim particularly in the East the Indian army has carried out a revamp in strategy and organization to ensure that a repetition of the 1962 debacle does not take place. In the West the Chinese have already occupied Aksai Chin in Ladakh an area of 30,000 square miles and as such have no further claims. India despite all the noise has tacitly accepted Chinese occupation of Aksai Chin and there are no plans to recover it from China’s grip. But the eastern border is a different kettle of fish and with the Chinese claim on Arunachal Pradesh the situation is volatile. The Chinese claim Arunachal Pradesh as they maintain that in 4000 years of Indian History it was never a part of India, but was part of the Tibetan empire.
India has inherited the border from the British and as a successor state claims Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India. The line of control in the east thus needs to be beefed up to prevent the Chinese from creating any incident.
New Divisions and Proactive Approach
The Army has now formulated a ‘proactive approach’ against China so as to be able to react in the quickest time possible. The Indian army has thus been building up its offensive capability and factoring a worst case scenario where India could be faced with a two front war with both China and Pakistan.
The Army has now raised two more mountain divisions for operations in the east. This involves a troop strength of over 35,000 with its head quarters at Zakama (Nagaland) and Misamari, close to Tezpur in Assam. Misamari also has an excellent airfield and I have operated from there. In addition a local brigade of Arunachal Scouts is raised, which is a great help as these are locals who know the topography of the East very well.
The second pro active step is the creation of a strategic command. Once this is complete the Indian Army would have made the biggest transformation of its offensive capability during the last 60 years. The strategic command will involve reducing the tail to teeth ratio. It will involve thinning down some administrative structures and static formations and beefing up with more operational troops. This will be a radical step, the like of which the Indian army has never executed. It also shows a change in thinking and perception of the Army which is now mentally more attuned to face China.
Muscle for the Strategic Command
It is planned that the strategic command will have 3 strike corps namely 1 corps, 2 Corps and 3 Corps. In addition the strike corps will have a single armored division. But the stress will be to have more Mechanized infantry units.The stress on armor is low as in the mountain regions the use of tanks is limited. Even in the 1962 war the Chinese used no tanks except at Chusul in Ladakh where they brought in some light tanks.
The role of the strike corps will be to go on the offensive and enter deep into Tibet so as to destroy the enemy’s reserves and capture as much of Tibet as possible. This is a radical change from the earlier defensive mentality and part of the credit for this must go to General JJ Singh the erstwhile Army Chief and present governor of Assam. The strike corps would enter battle at any opportune time or land behind enemy lines to reduce the enemy’s operational capability. The idea would be to strike in the enemy’s rear.
The Indian government has followed this build up on the eastern front with a political offensive as well to befriend the Military junta in Burma. The aim is to ensure that the Chinese do not have access to the Indian border from the Burmese side. This entails supporting the military regime, but that is a small price to pay forIndia’s security. With all these steps a repeat of 1962 is unlikely.