Taking on the Dragon

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by binayak95, May 12, 2013.

  1. binayak95

    binayak95 Regular Member

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    http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/taking-on-the-dragon/0/

    For some time now, leading think-tanks and strategic analysts in India have been articulating that sooner or later, there is a possibility of a short, sharp clash between China and India. Many reasons have been advanced as to why China will initiate this conflict and invite adverse reaction from the world. In this context, it needs to be remembered that China does not much care for world opinion.

    The primary reasons for China to commence hostilities could be to teach India, her only rival in Asia, a lesson for her intransigence on the settlement of the border dispute on China’s terms and disregarding her warnings against oil exploration in the South China Sea thus displaying an aggressive independent streak hitherto not seen. China feels that this may encourage other Asian nations to defy her.
    Other reasons could be the need to retard India’s economic growth and consequent military modernisation which will enable India to challenge Chinese supremacy in Asia in due course. Yet another reason could be the Chinese perception that India is trying to carry out strategic encirclement of China by improving ties with Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam and Australia encouraged by the US who are in the process of redeploying their naval forces in the region.
    Swift Offensive Against India in Ladakh
    Here the Chinese are already in occupation of the Aksai Chin Plateau giving them an excellent launch pad for an offensive.


    Indian forces currently occupy only a small part of Aksai Chin plateau in the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector. This, coupled with the fact that the DBO sector is still air maintained, makes the Indian forces on the ground in this sector, extremely vulnerable.
    The Chinese strategy of launching an offensive in this sector will be to develop two prongs, one to move through Saser Pass down to Sasoma and Partapur thereby cutting off Siachen, Sub Sector West and Hanif Sectors and in the process shake hands with Pakistan on the other side. This will be a classic example of a collusive scenario.
    The other prong would be to move along the Shyok River to Tangtse thus getting behind our defences in the Chushul Sector. Chinese forces could also develop operations across the Chang La to Leh. This would create a critical situation for India in Ladakh.


    Offensive Through Chumbi Valley
    Another viable option for the Chinese forces would be to launch an offensive through the Chumbi Valley with the aim of choking off the narrow Siliguri Corridor and cut off the entire North East Region from India.
    Subsequently, the Chinese forces could develop operations in Western Bhutan to capture areas claimed by them and secure their Eastern flank.
    In order to secure their Western flank, the Chinese forces could also carry out operations in Eastern Sikkim. The Chinese claim on Doklam Plateau must be seen in this context.


    Towang is vulnerable for two reasons. One, the Chinese on the Tibetan Plateau are on higher ground and can roll down to Towang. Two, Towang can be bypassed from both the East and the West and the Chinese can contact both Sela and Bomdi-la simultaneously as they did in 1962.
    A wedge can thus be driven through Indian defences and a salient created which will be extremely difficult for the India forces to recapture.
    India’s Riposte Options
    It can be said with all sincerity that riposte options for India are extremely limited. Unlike in the case of China, the most serious handicap for India would be that the Indian forces will be capable of undertaking only limited offensives that are not going to hurt mainland China. Offensive by the Indian forces can only progress into Tibet which the Chinese would not care about. This handicap notwithstanding, Indian forces have to launch a riposte to make the Chinese forces recoil. Since the Indian riposte will be limited in force level and scope, it would be unwise to call it a counter offensive. However, the Chinese are sure to derive propaganda value from the Indian offensive describing it as “a massive attack on China”.

    Options in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh
    In the event of China launching an offensive from the Aksai Chin launch pad, the viable options before India would be two. One of these would be to launch a counter offensive through the Demchok funnel in Ladakh with the aim of capturing Tashigong and thus cutting off the Western highway. As the terrain is such that it permits the employment of mechanised forces, India would have to build up mechanised forces in Ladakh prior to the riposte. It would be difficult to conceal the build-up of mechanised forces, so it would be militarily prudent to build up to the required force level progressively over a period of time ostensibly for the defence of the Ladakh sector. Thus, adequate mechanised forces would be available in strength for the launching of this riposte which essentially would be a subsidiary thrust. The main thrust would be through Shipki La with once again the aim being to interdict the Chinese Western highway. Here, the preparations for a riposte can be concealed from the Chinese with relative ease. However, the terrain in this area dictates that the operations will be undertaken by the infantry and not by mechanised forces. Both the options described above can be exercised even when the Chinese launch their offensive in the East.
    The Chumbi Valley Option
    The only option available in the East to the Indian forces is to cut off Chumbi Valley with a two-pronged offensive, one from East Sikkim and the other from Western Bhutan. By this action, Indian forces will be able to remove the perpetual threat to the Siliguri Corridor. The Chinese forces will also not be able to capture important areas in Western Bhutan.
    Denial of Launch Pads to China in Western Kameng
    In order to deny China launch pads in Western Kameng for her Towang option, it will be necessary for the Indian forces to launch a limited offensive in Western Kameng.

    The War in Air and at Sea
    In 1962, India opted not to employ air power against the advancing Chinese forces or against their infrastructure in Tibet. This indeed proved to be a disaster for India. Hopefully, the right lessons have been learnt. The Indian Air Force (IAF) enjoys two major advantages over the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The first is that the IAF currently enjoys a qualitative edge over the PLAAF. The second advantage is of favourable terrain. The IAF aircraft take off from airfields at sea level and as such can carry full weapons load. Once it comes over the Tibetan plateau, in the absence of the any cover, the IAF can play merry hell with Chinese infrastructure and thus negate this advantage. Load carrying capability of PLAAF aircraft on the other hand, is significantly degraded as they have to take off from airfields at high altitude. It also needs to be remembered that so far, the PLAAF does not have hardened shelters in Tibet to protect their combat aircraft. When they come over Indian territories in the North East Region, a thick jungle canopy prevents them from visually observing targets with ease.
    As far as the maritime war is concerned, China again suffers from two disadvantages. Firstly, with the exception of submarines, the PLA Navy (PLAN) has an antiquated fleet. Secondly, their merchant marine has to traverse through the Indian Ocean which the Indian Navy is in a position to dominate effectively. Their shipping, especially the tankers can be choked off in the nine and ten degree channels in the Nicobar Islands area. Having realized this, the Chinese are developing Gwadar port in Balochistan and connecting it by road, rail and oil pipeline to mainland China through Khunjerab Pass. In a conflict situation, the oil supplies will be offloaded at Gwadar port. The Indian Navy can, however, lay seige on Gwadar and Karachi ports. Besides, our aircraft carriers will play a key role in any conflict at sea.
    Propaganda and Cyber Warfare
    The Chinese offensive will be preceded by a massive propaganda blitz where Indian defence preparations will be played out as proof that India is preparing to invade the Middle Kingdom, never mind that it is over three thousand kilometers away from the war zone. In the evolving situation, the Chinese would project themselves as completely helpless with no option other than to launch a counter-offensive calling it self-defence. Thereafter a massive dose of cyber warfare can be expected to paralyse the command and control systems as also the commercial activities on the Indian side.

    Infrastructural Development in Border Areas by India
    The biggest disadvantage that the Indian Army faces is the lack of significant improvement in infrastructure along the border areas since 1962. Successive governments in India have been neglecting this vital aspect while China has made phenomenal progress in this area. Because Chinese can swiftly mobilize forces in Tibet, warning period available to India will be short, due to lack of infrastructure deploying forces where required will be impeded.
    The Collusive Scenario
    In the event of a Sino-Indian conflict, a collusive scenario with Pakistan is a distinct possibility. Pakistan will be more than ready to take advantage of such a clash. This possibility ought to be of serious concern to Indian policy makers. In order to avoid a two-front war, one adversary would have to be diplomatically isolated. Indian diplomacy will thus have a big task on its hands. Militarily, however, the Indian forces must be prepared for a war on two fronts.
    The Nuclear Shadow
    Since both India and China are nuclear weapons states, any conflict between the two will take place under a nuclear overhang. Both countries, therefore, are likely to avoid any action which will threaten the adversary’s sensitive objectives in depth and thus invite a nuclear strike. In this respect, perhaps India has an advantage. Mainland China is too far away from the warzone. Offensive action by India will take place only in Tibet. As such, if India cannot threaten any target of high strategic importance in the Chinese heartland, the chances of a nuclear strike by China would be remote.

    When Can a Conflict Take Place?
    Crystal gazing has its own pitfalls but it can be said with a fair degree of certainty that a window of opportunity for China, if at all it exercises a conflict option to put India in its place, will only be after the US and NATO forces move out of Afghanistan and before the US can deploy naval forces in the area. This would obviate the possibility of these forces coming to India’s aid. Also China cannot afford to allow India to upgrade its forces substantially or catch up with her technologically.
    The End State of the Conflict
    Both countries will strive to achieve a degree and state favourable to them, China more so since it would have initiated the hostilities. But it can be said with reasonable certainty that Indian Army will be able to hold more than its own which means not to lose any territory but also launch its riposte thus exorcising the ghost of 1962. Employment of the IAF will surely invite air strikes by the PLAAF which hopefully will not be launched against cities as that would invite adverse world opinion. The Indian Navy by its domination of the Indian Ocean may create immense difficulties for China. A defeat in a future conflict with China will be disastrous for India. Apart from the economic ruin, it will substantially damage India’s standing in the comity of nations and degrade her status as an Asian power. Pakistan will not only be encouraged to step up its terrorist activities but may even resort to armed conflict to annex the Kashmir Valley, its pet obsession since 1947. On the other hand, even if India is able to bring about a stalemate, it will greatly enhance her prestige and put an end to Chinese domination in the Asian region.
    We must also bear in mind that apart from sympathetic noises, we are unlikely to get any help from our so-called well-wishers in the NAM and even the Western powers. So India has to fight it alone – an extremely difficult task since eighty per cent of our military hardware is ex-import and spare and armament support can be choked off by the countries concerned.
    At the end of the day, India needs to bear in mind what the great military thinker Clawswitz said: “The trauma of a military defeat can only be overcome by a military victory over the same opponent.” I rest my case.

    Maj Gen Sheru Thapliyal
     
    desicanuk and Vishwarupa like this.
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Issues to note:

    DBO sector is still air maintained, makes the Indian forces on the ground in this sector, extremely vulnerable.

    The Chinese strategy of launching an offensive in this sector will be to develop two prongs, one to move through Saser Pass down to Sasoma and Partapur thereby cutting off Siachen, Sub Sector West and Hanif Sectors and in the process shake hands with Pakistan on the other side. This will be a classic example of a collusive scenario.

    The other prong would be to move along the Shyok River to Tangtse thus getting behind our defences in the Chushul Sector. Chinese forces could also develop operations across the Chang La to Leh. This would create a critical situation for India in Ladakh.

    This is debatable because we have The Chumbi Valley Option.

    Another viable option for the Chinese forces would be to launch an offensive through the Chumbi Valley with the aim of choking off the narrow Siliguri Corridor and cut off the entire North East Region from India.

    This is worth pondering over

    Towang is vulnerable for two reasons. One, the Chinese on the Tibetan Plateau are on higher ground and can roll down to Towang. Two, Towang can be bypassed from both the East and the West and the Chinese can contact both Sela and Bomdi-la simultaneously as they did in 1962.

    A wedge can thus be driven through Indian defences and a salient created which will be extremely difficult for the India forces to recapture.

    His analysis on Options in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh ia worth considering.

    A good analysis by Sheru.
     
  4. ark200

    ark200 Regular Member

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    this is a very careful analysis of the situation but it is a narrow view. the thread opener discussed only from army infantry point of view i.e. how Chinese army can advance. but there are Chinese navy and air force too. we must analyze how navy and air force can attack us.

    besides there are Chinese strategic alliance : the necklace around India. china can use these strategic allies too.
     
  5. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    What are the roles of Navy in a land warfare ??

    Though General Thapliyal has discussed both.

    So far as air operations are concerned, both sides will be restricted to ground forces support operations and interdictions.
    Forget about air superiority operations...
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2013
  6. ark200

    ark200 Regular Member

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    who will restrict china from using its superior air force? who will believe china at all?

    chinese navy can attack indian coast line. dude CHINA ATTACKS INDIA including INDIAN BORDERS.
     
  7. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    You're quite daft if you think the PLAN has OPLANs in place to go all the way through the Indonesian straits to sortie against the Indian coast with surface assets, even if full-blown conflict erupts between China and India. At most - at most - the PLAN would be using advanced subs and satellites to support the navies of other South Asian states while concentrating most of its forces in areas where it can really lay down the hurt on the IA. Those areas would be where its logistical tail is much less vulnerable than its opponent - likely NE India, with a cut through Sikkim to force India to either invade Bangladesh to widen its supply lines or risk leaving cut off IA assets there to die, since the Sundarji doctrine focuses reinforcing IA corps against Pakistan.
     
  8. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Very unrealistic.

    Cutting through Chumbi valley of Sikkim would be a death trap for PLA. India would wish that to happen so that it launches its strike corps from both sides of Chumbi valley and takes 10 0000 PLA as prisoners.

    Other option with IA is to cut off chumbi valley as a preemptive operations and deny PLA any ingress there.

    So far as BD is concerned, they would never enter into collusive military operations with China....

    During peace they may say yes to extracts some million Chinese yuans but it would be too dangerious for them to collude with Chinese during a war in the East fully knowing that BD would be the next to be captured by the Chinese.

    they would know that Chinese have already captured Shaksgam valley, Gilgit and Baltistan from Pakistan and slowly would link up with Gwadar - Balochistan. Chinese are already doing military drill and mineral / oil digging in Sindh. Only Punjabi heartland of Pakistan is yet to be surrendered by Pakistan to the Chinese.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  9. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Pray tell me how this operation will be sustained logistically ?

    You mean Chinese will make a road down shyok or get supplies from Skardu ?

    To do that Chinese would require a divisional level force and again would not be able to sustain that force logistically.

    Chumbi valley is a double trap. China will have to invade Bhutan also. If Eastern and western flanks of Chumbi valley hold, then any Chinese ingress would be trapped. This may also invite nuclear exchange.

    The sector in 1962 was being defended upto Seal La and Bomdila by one Brigade only. After raising two divisions for East, there would be minimum one division there. It means Chines would require six to ten divisions to capture Tawang. A difficult task otherwise Chinese would have sat down in Tawang long time back.

    That is reciprocal.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Ideally Sheru Thapliyal would have the detailed answer, but then I don't think he will share it with all and sundry.

    Notwithstanding, in general terms, it would not be difficult for the Chinese to come down the Depsang and in so far as their engineering prowess is concerned, one has to merely read military history to understand their capability in mountain engineering works.

    In civil engineering, their feat in making the Tibet Railway is a landmark. Or the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway, a rail line that is the world's longest high-speed line ever constructed in a single phase. There are 244 bridges along the line. The 164-km long Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge is the longest bridge in the world, the 114-km long viaduct bridge between Langfang and Qingxian is the second longest in the world, and the viaduct between Beijing's 4th Ring Road and Langfang is the fifth longest. The line also includes 22 tunnels, totaling 16.1 km. 1,268 km of the length is ballastless.

    It would also be worth note that m many of the P.L.A. soldiers entering Gilgit-Baltistan are working on the railway and some are extending the Karakoram Highway, built to link China’s Sinkiang Province with Pakistan. Others are working on dams, expressways and other projects.

    Mystery surrounds the construction of 22 tunnels in secret locations where Pakistanis are barred.

    I will leave it at that.



    Would that be difficult?

    If so how?



    What makes you feel that they would be shy to invade Bhutan?

    However, if you had noticed my post, I had said that we could cut them off at Chumbi Valley. Read and then comment.



    I am afraid you have not understood the rationale and compulsions of the Chinese withdrawal from NEFA. I have mentioned it many times on this forum.

    Compare the Chinese action in the West in 1962 and that in the East and it will strike one right in the face who understand military tactics!
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    There is no chance of 'cut through Sikkim'. That is wishful thinking, even more wishful than Musharraf's Op Badr!

    If you are talking of the Dolam Plateau, then you have to reach it through a gauntlet.

    There is no chance in hell!

    Sundarjee doctrine is now obsoletet!
     
  12. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Shyok river valley is not Tibet ...

    Mustering more than twenty division inside Tibet is another thing but bringing those to bear trans Himalayas or Trans Karakoram is another thing all together...

    Chinese have engineering prowess are alright but not on glacial rivers and mountains..

    In 1962, wherever the Chinese halted, or withdrew to have good reasons as area beyond that is inhabitable and logistical nightmare.. That included Tawang..


    In 1962 they only needed that much. It is another thing today they want more or they raise demands to needle India.
    Well who knows it better than Indians who are faced with it on ground..
     
  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Have you seen the area?

    Do you understand concept of Troops to Task?

    Do you understand Relative Strength?

    Time to Complete the Task?

    The Tibet railway was constructed over permafrost.

    Where is the glacier?

    I will not be goaded to say more.

    Suffice it to say I have written a military paper when I was there. Obviously not sitting down in an office, right?

    And there were more competent than me, who have done much spade work, like Sheru Thapliayal.

    It is for the Govt to address the issues.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  14. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Oh what on earth is that ?
    Relativity of plain Tibet to frozen river beds ?
    Why do not you take all NAREGA employees to shyok river ??
     
  15. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    That is so simple that anyone who knows the military and how it analyses the treat would know!

    Ever seen a Threat Analysis or even an Appreciation?
     
  16. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    No, I remember you asking me a year back why there are ten boys in a section ?

    Which I do not know !!
     
  17. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Bully for you.
     
  18. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    @Bhadra,

    I am not saying that you are not within your rights to raise the questions.

    Prima facie, they are valid.

    However, one takes the worst case scenario and works through it as best as feasible.

    I am aware you feel that Generals of the Indian Army are indolent and incompetent idiots.

    Maybe some could be, but not all.

    Sheru is not one of those who may qualify with your opinion. He is a simple Garhwali boy who has commanded a Brigade in Sikkim and a Division in Ladakh. Both the time the adversary were the Chinese. And both the times, I was where he was but in different formations. I know him from my NDA days and he is one who is very down to earth. No airs.

    Whatever has been appreciated as the Threat and how to overcome it is with the Govt.

    Unless the Govt acts, what can these Generals do?

    I am sure you saw PC Katoch's article where he lamented that there were fools who dictate terms and then have the audacity to say that these large mustchioed Generals are forcing the country to war!

    You abuse the Generals for being indolent and incompetent and the MP abuses them as being hyper active and warmongers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  19. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    I have never questioned the analysis or wisdom of General Sheru Thapliyal...

    I only asked a question that came to my mind.. since you claim to have been there

    You have taken it otherwise...
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  20. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    Such is the basic tension of peacetime soldiering...
     
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  21. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    No No No... Never do I do that ... I implore the Generals to be war mongers which is their job rather than be politicians which they unsuccessfully try....

    How can I ever abuse the generals except a few ...

    Ha Ha Ha....
     
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