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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Six strategies for Indian Armed Forces to turn the tables on China

India is trying to win a war against China based on tactics - whereas China focuses on strategy. China does not fit into India's 3 strategies of war it has used against Pakistan. India needs to develop 6 dimensions of war so that the Indian army can improve its chances when competing against China.

Renowned Indian defence analyst Pravin Sawhney in his Youtube video, Disengagement on Chinese Terms, has outlined six effective strategies for the Indian Army to quell the threat and from neighbour and compete with global giant China.

The border skirmishes, which started on May 5, at the Galwan Valley and then at the Naku La mountain pass in northeastern Sikkim three days later led to a military and diplomatic impasse between the two countries. After the meeting of the NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi who held the discussions on 5 July, Indian army sources have claimed that China has started retreating from Galwan Valley and other areas it had come into.

In the wake of the Ladakh disaster, India has found itself short of options for retorting to what it alleges is Chinese incursion into its territory. India and the Indian Army are hitherto no match for China and the People’s Liberation Army, and has urged policymakers and Indian Army Chief to rethink their strategies vis-a-vis China.

What happened at Ladakh when Indian army tried to compete with China?

The scene of the recent India-China tensions is centered around the Indian Union Territory of Ladakh, particularly at the Galwan Valley, on the border between the two countries.

The Galwan Valley incident was the first time in 45 years (since 1975) that soldiers had died in combat on the Asian giants’ long-disputed border on the Ladakh side – total border between the two countries is 3400 kms.

Read more: India at loss as Indo-Pacific strategy collapses

Twenty Indian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed in a “violent” faceoff on June 15 with Chinese troops in the high-altitude Ladakh region. Indian army confirmed that that there had been no shooting during the incident but rather violent hand-to-hand scuffles took place.

China had accused Indian soldiers of crossing the Line of Actual Control, in a bid to drive the Chinese out of the disputed region, which is controlled by China but claimed by India.

Thousands of soldiers on both sides had been camping along the un-demarcated LAC.

Why the Chinese have won the battle at Ladakh

The Chinese have won the war of ideals at Ladakh because of their well defined priorities. Two characteristics of Chinese deserve to be highlighted: they always see big picture (thus, any tactical move by the Chinese is carried out only if it fits and supports what they deem to be the bigger picture – in the strategic arena) and second they can negotiate and use their force at the same time. This is in stark contrast to the situation in India, which he says is the exact opposite, where greater emphasis is placed on what is happening on the ground.


Read more: Indian army claims victory over China in Ladakh dispute

Further, India, which was forced on to the back foot after unprecedented Chinese belligerence at Ladakh, is more eager to carry out a disengagement, due to their domestic pressure. Thus, in their quest to achieve what they thought was the bigger picture, Indians acquiesced to the Chinese disengagement plans, and unknowingly ensnared themselves in China’s trap. They had no input in the disengagement plan, which was drafted by China, and had to ‘cede territory’ (which had been under Indian control since the 1993 LAC agreement) to China, effectively nullifying 27 years of Indian military progress, by going back to the Chou en Lai’s desired 1959 line.

Therefore, China can now claim all of the Galwan Valley, including all dominating heights, and this gives a huge tactical prowess to the Chinese PLA, and India can do nothing.

The Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat’s thinking is outdated, made in context of Pakistan and centers around three types of wars: two-front war, concept of hybrid war and limited war (salami slicing war) all have to be rethought for war against China.

The way forward: 6 dimensions for Indian army to compete with China 

Sawhney says maintains that all is not lost for India, but if it is to put up a viable challenge to China, it will need to catch up to China, and fast.

There are 6 dimensions of the war that India must improve if it is to win the battle that it is facing with China, namely, cyber war, space war, electromagnetic spectrum war, light war (which includes non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons & laser war) and invisible (Algorithm) war.

Read more: Repercussions of tensions between India and China for Asia

The Indian armed forces hitherto have no such capabilities, and that their dictionary includes only Hybrid, Conventional and Limited War, which it believes is a one-size fits all warfare that can be applied to any adversary.

It is underscored that the Indian armed forces need to realize that China is not Pakistan, and that to quell it the Indian army must gain expertise in these six fields, in which they are already light years behind China. For example, as regards light war, China has massive lasers and electromagnetic weapons that can shoot down a projectile up to 10 kilometres from the Earth’s surface.

Six dimensions of warfare explained further

Cyberwarfare is the use of technology to attack a nation, causing comparable harm to actual warfare. China has demonstrated extreme prowess in this dimension, with technologically advanced nations, such as Australia, alleging that China hacked into its maximum security internet domains.

Space warfare is combat that takes place in outer space. The scope of space warfare therefore includes ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellites from the Earth; space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites; and space-to-ground warfare, such as satellites attacking Earth-based targets. While no actual space warfare has taken place as of 2020, China has developed systems to shoot down projectiles in space.

Electromagnetic warfare is any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum (EM spectrum) or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly unimpeded access to, the EM spectrum.

Read more: Laser Weapon System Demonstrator: US unveils first look

Laser warfare is the use of a laser weapon to take out enemy targets. A laser weapon is a directed-energy weapon based on lasers. The general idea of laser-beam weaponry is to hit a target with a train of brief pulses of light. The rapid evaporation and expansion of the surface causes shockwaves that damage the target.

Algorithmic warfare is a warfare which is driven by autonomous systems powered with Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can control the weapon platforms, systems, operations and even tactics in a network centric battlefield. Algorithms are sequence of instructions and rules that computer machines use to solve problems.

Why India needs to catch up to China, and fast

Sawhney expresses no hope that India will broaden its warfare potential by adopting these six spectrums. He says that India has traditionally been resistant to change, and forecasts the Indian Army will resist any change and lose essential time in the race, time which it does not have.

Read more: India’s irresponsible government is adding fuel to Ladakh fire: Dr. Moeed Pirzada

India must wake up to the fact that China is surging ahead and has a very advantageous position in this race. To elucidate, the PLA’s new conquest of Galwan valley allows further reinforcements and army linkages to Tibet, which is a stronghold of the PLA.

China has already given a taste of what it can do to India. It has demonstrated its military might and tactical superiority to India and this should be a huge eye opener for policy makers in India. Failing this, India may just lose its opportunity to defend itself against China forever.

How Russia can help Indian Army to compete with China

For India, Russia is the way forward. Russia can be the mediator that India so desperately needs because it is a friend of both China and India.

Russia has already demonstrated its willingness to mediate between India and China at the RIC meeting on June 23rd 2020, where it was agreed that a trilateral summit between Xi, Putin and Modi would be held one the sidelines of the G20 summit in November.

Read more: Cornered India can not expect Russian help after humiliation by China: Andrew Korybko

However, the PLA has changed the dynamics between RICS, and that because India has been wounded, it must look to Russia to solve its disputes with China. There is also a case for a greater Russian investment in Indian arms in the future to bolster India’s laggard defences against a surging China.

GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources