Monday, 6 June 2011

China Forces Indian Army And Air Force To Hasten Defensive Plans

As the news of the growing Chinese army infiltration on the eastern border of India was seeping through, came the double whammy news of Chinese army divisions presence in POK(Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) on the north-western border of India. These two news completely unnerved not only the military establishment but the political establishment too.

You might remember few years back Indian Army conducted a study called "Divine Matrix" which predicted a Chinese invasion of India by 2016-2017. Thus to some extent Indian Armed forces were aware of the situation but as usual the political bosses were least bothered. In the past 3-4 months that has changed drastically. PM Manmohan Singh was briefed about the sorry state of affair on our eastern border and impressed upon the need to improve if India has to avoid another 1962 kind of catastrophe.

With five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), China can now move more than 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) at their "launch pads" on LAC in double-quick time, outnumbering Indian forces by at least three-is-to-one.

China's rapidly-expanding footprint in infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, in the backdrop of the Beijing-Islamabad military nexus which targets India, has served to further heighten concerns in the defence establishment here.

Unfortunately the reaction of India to all that is quite slow to the point of being cumbersome. Only 15 of the 73 all-weather roads earmarked for construction along the unresolved LAC, for instance, are actually ready till now. Similarly Indian Air Force has woken up after 20-30 years and is upgrading eastern sector ALGs (advanced landing grounds) like Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro and Vijaynagar as well as several helipads in Arunachal after reactivating western sector ALGs like Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyama in eastern Ladakh. "But the entire process needs to be hastened," said an official.

To over come the huge disparity between the Chinese capability and Indian capability on the eastern front, army and Air Force have decided to use force multipliers for now to give India advance warning and keep an eagle eye on the Chinese movement. This has been done to avoid any nasty surprises. To that goal India is now deploying spy drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and light observation helicopters along the borders with China to keep a hawk-eye on the stepped-up activities of People's Liberation Army.

India Army and IAF are desperate for faster inductions of the Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to counter the vastly superior Chinese Air Force(PLAF). While IAF has ordered eight Akash squadrons for Rs 6,200 crore, six of which are to be based in the North-East, the Army has placed an order for two regiments at a cost of Rs 14,180 crore.

The construction of over 5,500 "permanent defences and bunkers" along the borders is now being speeded up to ensure their completion within four to five years, under the Rs 9,243 crore military infrastructure development project approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security for the Eastern Army Command.

"Sukhoi-30MKI fighters are already being based in IAF airbases like Tezpur and Chabua. Army Aviation bases in Assam are also now being upgraded, with seven helicopters and four Israeli Searcher-II UAVs already been deployed there," a defence ministry source said.

The Army is also pushing for a mountain strike corps after having raised two new mountain infantry divisions. The new divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers, have their HQs in Zakama (56 Div) in Nagaland and Missamari (71 Div) in Assam.

All these plans I believe are 20 years too late but it is better than nothing. May be with these steps India can strategically counter China's massive build-up of military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) over the last two decades. Hopefully now the GOI will wake up from its slumber and inaction. Government Of India must build up these roads and rail network because they are the artery which supply life blood to the front without it the soldiers will again be as helpless as they were in 1962 debacle.