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Discussions begin in armed forces on future course of action against China

Serious thinking has begun in the official armed forces circles here about how to deal with the Chinese, if they repeat the Daulat Beg Oldie-like episode. Even in a different shape and form, a situation of such nature has to be dealt with in a more adroit fashion.

Talking with a recently retired major general, Bal Kishen Sharma, a distinguished fellow at the United Services Institution (USI) – a think tank – closely allied with the armed forces, the thought veered towards the fact that while India is in a better position fighting a ‘tactical defensive battle,’ because of its ‘positional advantage.’

But if the Chinese decide to escalate and make it less symmetric and more strategic, like a cyber attack on computer nodes controlling rail, road movements, of troops or even logistics, it could create serious problems for the country. In fact, according to Sharma, the Indian defence establishment will be hard pressed to come up with a matching response.

With the Chinese rocket force, the Second Artillery Force handling both nuclear and conventional missiles, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could strike any part of the country from ‘stand-off’ ranges with even conventional warheads. China’s advantage in terms of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets will help the SAF to launch such kinds of attacks. If it also starts shooting down the country’s satellites, it could at the same time, blind and mute the ability of to retaliate. As Maj Gen Sharma says, ‘If the political class decides to wage a war, let them decide that resolutely and with them being fully informed.’ He points at the changed nature of the Tibetan plateau and how the Chinese have built road and rail heads in the area, creating multi-access points. This itself should goad the Indian decision-makers to quickly develop infrastructure in the contiguous areas.

He urges that the ‘vulnerabilities’ within the Chinese war-making machine needs to be identified. The ‘Tibet option’ needs to be kept alive, Sharma says, and the Indian navy has to beginplaying a larger role.

He adds, ‘The navy should be able to rule the Bay of Bengal corridor and the Arabian Sea corridor by which we should be able to take on strategic sites like Sittwe in the east and Gwadar and Xiajiang in the west.’
Pinaki Bhattacharya

Pinaki Bhattacharya

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