India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat recently warned that a military option is still available on the table if diplomatic talks fail with China. So what options does India have on the table and what measures can New Delhi take against China?
India and China have been at loggerheads ever since the deadly Galwan valley clash which resulted in the killing of 20 Indian soldiers and unconfirmed numbers on the Chinese side.
Speaking to reporters, Rawat said, “Transgressions along the LAC occur due to differing perceptions about its alignment. Defence services are tasked to monitor and carry out surveillance and prevent such transgressions from turning into intrusions. The whole of government approach is adopted to peacefully resolve any such activity and prevent intrusions. Defence services always remain prepared for military actions should all efforts to restore status quo along the LAC do not succeed”.
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Exercising the military option would simply mean that the Indian defence forces are prepared to engage in a ‘defensive war’ along the 3,488 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
Talking to the BBC, Lieutenant General (Retd.) D.S. Hooda, who was the Chief of the Northern Command of the Army said that India’s military strategy with China is completely different from that with Pakistan.
He added that an aggressive approach is adopted with Pakistan on the Line of Control (LOC) while a defensive strategy is used on the LAC. “That doesn’t mean that we cannot go beyond the LAC and attack. If that is necessary, we should do it. Mountain Strike Corps is formed for this purpose.”
On a question about the ‘Tit for Tat’ strategy meaning if India could seize some of the Chinese lands and use it to bargain, Gen. Hooda said “such options might have been adopted earlier. For example, the option of haggling by adopting a titular strategy may seem quite provocative, but I think we are in a good position in terms of our military capabilities and can answer them.”
Talking about a geographical advantage in Ladakh, Gen. Hooda explained that the area of Eastern Ladakh is flat and quite high. It is not hilly like at the LOC. “Road network is also good and most of the posts can be visited by car and hence that isn’t a challenge for us. But it would be wrong to say that the geographical location of Ladakh is in India’s favour. China’s basic structure is much better and it gives them an edge in the region.”
According to Former Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh earlier told BBC that China is far ahead of in terms of infrastructure along the border. “Until a few years ago, China could gather 22 divisions of its army in a very short time. As of today, it can collect 32 divisions.
There are up to 10 thousand soldiers in a division. They can take immediate positions. We also need to match them. We have completed 75% of the required infrastructure and the rest also needs to be done soon,” he explained.
A former Chief of Navy stated that if the issue escalated with China in the maritime sector, India will go to the area where it is in a strong position i.e. in the Indian Ocean. “If anyone says that the Navy will be sent to attack China in the South China Sea, then I would be surprised. We can only lead China in the Indian Ocean because we know this area and the most important. The thing is that we will have more options available here,” he added.