Indian Army’s modernisation push will help reduce asymmetry with Chinese counterparts
India may have between 10-12 years to reduce the asymmetry for its forces when compared to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. Many military observers here feel that though the northern neighbour has a two-decade headstart in modernising its armed forces – with the current thrust given by President Xi Jinping – India’s current modernisation process, barely a decade old, is moving apace.
Considering that the Chinese drive is a top-down process that encompasses command, control, communication, computers, intelligence and information, it will take a while for all the resources to be in place. And, the training that will also have to bring on the soldiers in the rank and file to come up to the desired level.
Having said that, the new Western Theatre Command, headquartered at Chengdu that is supposed to confront the Indian army is the largest theatre command amongst all five. It stretches from Inner Mongolia in the northern edge of the nation to Xinjiang in the west and Tibet in the east.
Some of India’s military planners feel that since the earlier disposition of PLA forces consisted of two military regions, Chengdu and Lanzhou, and were mostly inward looking to keep the level of internal insurgents at bay, the task of the Western Command will also be of the similar kind.
They will have to worry about security of their areas even if they seek to pre-empt any of Indiia’s military moves, the PLA command will have to be looking askance at their backs. On the other hand, India’s 14 Corps that is primarily based in Ladakh to look for the Chinese across the Line of Actual Control need not bother about any insurgency of the Buddhist population that is the majority in that part of Jammu and Kashmir.
Now that New Delhi has already positioned an armoured brigade in Ladakh with another being raised, it’s a major shot in the arm for the Indian army. There are two independent mountain divisions being also raised in the north and two more Corps being raised for the North East part of the country, the Indian armed forces will be quite well equipped to take on the Chinese.
But in terms of the sheer manpower and an arithmetical exercise of bean-counting like how many and what kind of artillery pieces the PLA has or how many and what kind of battle tanks they have may show up India falling short. Even more important for pure strategic reasons at the frontiers, is the Chinese build-up road and rail network that would help them to quickly deploy and move around their troops.
Indian planners are also addressing these issues. But considering the time they had been sitting on their haunches, this late effort is taking its time, thus hobbling the Indian forces.