With India entangled in a bitter conflict with Pakistan and China concurrently, what is the possibility of a two-front war? Is India ready to fight a two-front war with Pakistan and China if both the two neighbours collude and attack India simultaneously?
Indian Army Chief, General M.M. Naravane recently admitted that there is a threat of possible collusion between China and Pakistan against India which could lead to a two-front war.
“Though it can take place at any level, Siachen and Shaksgam Valley are the places where the territory of these two countries meet. The threat of collusion is maximum in the strategically important glacier which forces us to keep our possession,” said General Naravane talking to the media ahead of the Army Day celebrations in the national capital.
With raging tensions between India and China on the eastern Ladakh border, where the troops of both the nations got into a brawl with 20 casualties on the Indian side and an unaccounted number on the Chinese side, both nations are now keen to de-escalate but ‘how’ remains a big question.
Thousands of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops were reported to have moved into sensitive areas along the eastern Ladakh border, setting up tents and stationing vehicles and heavy machinery in what India considers to be its territory.
In response, the Indian army had also moved several battalions from an infantry division usually based in the Ladakh city of Leh to “operational alert areas” along the border, and reinforcement troops bought in.
Relations between Pakitan and India have always been turbulent along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan violating ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir over 800 times this year.
“The troops have been put on alert and vigilance through manual and electronic surveillance equipment has been intensified,” an officer said. The Army and police have identified 19 infiltration routes along the LoC in Baramulla, Kupwara, Poonch, Rajouri and Bandipora districts of J&K, they said.
For years, we have been focusing on the western border on the basis of threats. Now, we have to rebalance our deployment towards the northern sector. Northern front with China is being given importance by moving modern weaponry. Making roads, facilitating habitats and storage of modern equipment are aimed towards capacity building in the region,” said the Indian Army chief.
Retd. Wing Commander Amit Ranjan Giri echoed a similar possibility of a two-front war. According to Giri, the worst-case scenario for India is that both the western as well as eastern fronts being attacked simultaneously.
“Any more coordinated effort by the enemies would require centralised command and control structures, aka WW II, which is envisaged not to be a possibility in the present situation,” he said.
Talking about the Indian Army’s strength to handle a two-front war with China and Pakistan, General Narvane said in case of a simultaneous threat, there would be a primary front and a secondary front.
Our forces will be concentrated on the primary front and we will adopt more deterrent posture on the secondary front so that we are not found wanting,” he said.
Most of of our aggression will be concentrated on the primary front and we will adopt more deterrent posturing on secondary front. We have formations which can quickly be moved from the east to west or vice-versa,” he added.
Commander Giri thinks that in a scenario of a two-front war, India would have to break down the war into three distinct major geographical theatres, that is the west theatre, encompassing the borders and sea we share with Pakistan, the north theatre, encompassing the border regions of Ladakh down south to the northwestern edge of Nepal and the northeastern theatre, encompassing border regions from the south-east of Nepal to all the way up to Arunachal and further down towards the south.
“This sounds rather rosy but in actuality would be a Herculean task for the centralised war room at Delhi to handle,” he wrote.
While laying down the path ahead for the Army, General Naravane concluded saying that his focus was on ABC — Allegiance, Belief and Consolidation. “Allegiance to the Constitution should guide us at all times.
It also translates to core values of the Constitution that is justice, equality and fraternity. Second is the belief in our organisation—our seniors and juniors. If we have a belief in them, we will not fall to rumours.
Then comes the consolidation. We are in a transformative stage. We will follow the policies of my predecessor. Of course, there will be a course correction,” he explained. He maintained that the focus of the army is quality and not quantity, both in terms of personnel and equipment.