Writing about a conceived future scenario under the title “Second India-China War” the author, Maj Gen (Retd) GD Bakshi, a renowned military analyst says that in case of Chinese aggression in the next three to four years, the U.S. may not be willing to intervene, given that it would have just come out a war in Iraq with heavy casualties and would be in the process of disengaging from Afghanistan.
“The US had withdrawn from Iraq and was just completing its extrication from Afghanistan where it had suffered heavy casualties. It had little stomach then for a war with China” says the lead story of Indian Military Review, depicting a setting for 2014 for an India-China confrontation.
The Editor of IMR, Maj Gen (Retd) RK Arora, himself a former head of Red Forces Branch and an expert in Chinese armed forces modernisation says the Peoples Liberation Army’s (PLA) infrastructure in Tibet is now a big cause of concern. “With an expanding railway network, improved road capacities, oil pipeline, and above all, large modern logistics bases even south of the Tsangpo (Brahmaputra)
“While 1962 cannot be repeated and we are much better prepared than in the past, if the gap between Chinese and Indian weaponry keeps widening, as is happening today, the Indian armed forces will pay heavily,” says Gen Arora.
Gen Bakshi, who commanded Romeo Force in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) believes that the centre of gravity and the focal point of operations in the next round with China will be J&K, with coordinated offensives from the East and West with Pakistan.
“In 1962, the Central Military Commission had chosen NEFA as the main theatre, where adequate Indian forces could be sucked in and annihilated in a sharp and painful operation (La dang da tang). In 2014, the Chinese deliberately selected J&K as their primary centre of gravity, where China and Pakistan could operate in concert and coordinate air-ground operations” says the article.
A make-believe operation, though not impossible scenario, conjured up in IMR is code-named “Thunder Dragon 2014”. It opens with the PLA carrying out large scale military exercise in the Lokha area of Tibet, just opposite Tawang to deceive the Indians on their intent. The trigger is provided by a Mumbai-style attack by Pakistani sponsored terrorist assault. Sensing the ugly public mood against inaction, the Indian government is forced to carry out artillery assaults and Special Forces’ strikes on terrorist attacks in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Pakistan reacts with conventional military strikes on Indian cities.
The situation deteriorates into localized military offensives in J&K followed by the launch of “integrated battle groups” in the plains of J&K. The PLA mobilizes its Rapid Reaction Forces in Tibet. Within three weeks of the opening salvo against Pakistan, Chinese Group Armies launch a major offensive into Ladakh.
A joint Sino-Pak force, built up in Skardu, attacks Kargil to “remove the so called threat to the Karakoram Highway.”
“The Indian political leadership was seriously perturbed by this joint Sino-Pakistani offensive. The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff again asked for permission to retaliate with Strike Corps offensives across the IB against Pakistan and launch the Navy to interdict Chinese sea lanes of communications (SLOCs) via the straits of Malacca. The absence of an aircraft carrier was keenly felt. The indigenous Air Defence Ship (ADS) was quickly fitted out and put to sea.”
The scenario depicted by the Indian Military Review does not lead to a nuclear exchange between India, Pakistan and China. The war is limited in scope andf a cease fire is announced with limited gains and losses on all sides.
Indian Military Review, which Arora says is read by a large number of military officers and a growing number of civilian readers at large, lists a number of indicators showing recent activities as part of Chinese preparations. Among them are:
* China’s massive upgrading of the logistical infrastructure in Tibet.
* Increase in Chinese mobilisation capacity.
* Widening of the Karakoram highway.
* Stationing of Chinese troops in Gilgit.
* Construction of deep caves and tunnels in the Gilgit mountains to deploy its killer Dong Feng 21D aircraft carrier killer missiles.
* Chinese military exercises to practice mountain warfare by troops earmarked for Tibet.
Gen Arora says that Indian Military Review will publish futuristic studies on likely war scenarios related to other sectors in the coming months.
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