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Exclusive: India's plans to counter the China threat

January 03, 2011 14:17 IST
China, not Pakistan, will be the focus of the Indian Army's future strategy, reports R S Chauhan.

To counter China's steadily increasing military might, the ministry of defence is likely to shift the focus of the Indian Army's next Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan, LTIPP.

From its current Pakistan-centric approach, the MoD may shift the plan's emphasis to meet the potential challenge from India's neighbour on the eastern border.

The Indian Army's next LTIPP is for the period between 2012 and 2027.

By 2020, the army seeks to have a full-fledged Mountain Strike Corps in place. According to sources in the MoD, the army has recommended that infrastructure in India's border areas, along the over 4000 km boundary with China, be upgraded swiftly to enable it to deploy more troops and operate effectively in the difficult terrain.

The army wants the government to build roads that can sustain the harsh weather in these terrain right up to the Indo-China border and connect important formation headquarters in the high-altitude areas of Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh.

The army also wants to acquire integrated field shelters for high-altitude areas to enhance the quality of living accommodations for its personnel even in the remotest locations.

In some ways, the implementation of the LTIPP is already underway. The army will complete the formation of two mountain divisions in the north-east by the middle of 2011. Once completed, these divisions will add muscle to the Indian Army's defence plans on its eastern border.

The addition of these two divisions has enabled the Eastern Command to redraw its orbat (order of battle).

Now the Tezpur-based 4 Corps will look after the Kameng sector in western Arunachal Pradesh with the deployment of three Mountain Divisions.

The Army Corps based in Rangapahar will now be in charge of eastern Arunachal Pradesh and will have three Mountain Divisions operating under it.

At least two more divisions to be raised in the next five years will then enable the army to have a dedicated Mountain Strike Corps to be either placed in the sensitive terrains of north-east or Ladakh.

The army also wants the Border Roads Organisation to speed up its road-building capabilities in tough terrain.

Over 75 tactically and strategically important roads are currently under construction in areas bordering China. The army wants these roads to be operational as quickly as possible to increase its ability to deploy and maintain adequate troop strength on the border.

Apart from these basic requirements, the army has projected some China-specific steps in its next LTIPP.

  • Augment and optimise force application capability.
  • Address logistic voids and enhance logistic capability
  • Enhance mobilisation capability
  • Ensure quick reaction capability in aviation
  • Improve and develop wide area network and satellite communication network.
  • The change in the Indian Army's priorities comes in the wake of a recent study conducted by a team of generals which looked at ways to 'transform' the force from a large, standing, lumbering army to a more lethal, nimble and technologically savvy entity capable of meeting future challenges.

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    R S Chauhan In New Delhi