Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel celebrate Republic Day near the bank of Pangong Tso, in Ladakh. (PTI)
Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel celebrate Republic Day near the bank of Pangong Tso, in Ladakh. (PTI)

Chinese report claims to have detailed knowledge of India’s border deployment

The analysis by expert Pan Xinmao, formerly from the PLA Academic of Military Science’s Operation Theory and Doctrine Research Department, was published on the website of the Outlook Weekly
By Sutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Sanya Mathur
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:15 PM IST

The Indian Army’s strategy on the border with China comprises protecting the eastern part, stabilising the middle and seizing the western section, the location of the recent and most serious military standoff in decades, according to a new report on a Chinese website that makes a rare public claim - having detailed knowledge of the Indian Army’s and the Air Force’s deployment across the Sino-Indian border.

The analysis by expert Pan Xinmao, formerly from the PLA Academic of Military Science’s Operation Theory and Doctrine Research Department, was published on the website of the Outlook Weekly, focused towards Chinese policy makers, affiliated to the news agency Xinhua.

In the report, Pan claims New Delhi has deployed 20% of its soldiers and kept another 30% of troops as reserves in “strategic areas” along the Sino-Indian boundary.

Explaining the Indian Army’s policy, the expert said the “eastern section” of the boundary – in Arunachal Pradesh claimed by China as part of south Tibet – is the “key focus” for the Indian military.

It said around 85,000 troops, 21 fighter aircraft (Su-MKI), 33 transport planes and 36 helicopters are deployed in the eastern region; the Sikkim section has some 64,000 troops, 30 fighter jets, 39 bombers, and 10 helicopters.

More than 100,000 soldiers are deployed in the western (Ladakh) and middle (Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh) sectors including from the elite Mountain Divisions and infantry divisions besides several battalions of paramilitary forces, dozens of fighter jets, and helicopters.

Overall, the Indian military has deployed 10 fighter squadrons along the border with about 320 combat aircraft of various types.

In addition, three A-50 early warning aircraft and eight P-8I patrol aircraft have been deployed, and even the P-8I has been dispatched to the Galwan Valley for reconnaissance to strengthen surveillance of border areas to make up for the lack of early warning capability of the Indian Air Force, the analysis said.

In the lengthy analysis - more than 6,000 Chinese characters - Pan says India’s China-focused military doctrine and detailed deployment at the border reflects operational thinking.

“The deployment of troops is a direct reflection of operational thinking. In terms of troop deployment, India emphasises ’offensive deployment’, and establishes the deployment policy of stabilising first-line troops, strengthening second-line reserves, expanding the depth of campaigns, and enhancing defensive flexibility, thus demonstrating its territorial ambitions,” he wrote.

Pan does not mention the information source in his analysis.

The analysis comes in the backdrop of Indian and Chinese soldiers disengaging from the Pangong Lake area in eastern Ladakh – in the western sector -- after nine months of being locked in a military standoff.

“The Indian army believes that the eastern section is ‘the most vulnerable’ and the Sikkim section is ‘the most sensitive part of Indian’s defence’ as it overlooks the ’strategic’ Siliguri Corridor and where the ‘Chinese army can quickly cut of the Siliguri Corridor and isolate the provinces (states) in northeastern India’.”

“Therefore, its deployment focuses on the eastern section and Sikkim section, where 70 percent of the troops in the China-India border area are deployed,” Pan wrote.

According to the Chinese expert’s analysis, the Indian army is deployed in three tiers to increase the flexibility of its defence in border areas.

“The first echelon is at the front of 10-20 kilometers from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and is mainly stationed by paramilitary forces; The second echelon is located 50-100 kilometers away from the actual control line and is held by brigade and battalion troops to form the main defence zone. The third echelons are located 100-300 kilometers away from the LAC line and are held by the main forces of the army, division and brigade to form an in-depth defense zone, equipped with strong air combat forces and ground air defense forces,” Pan says in the report.

The PLA expert said the India military has focused on its strength, mountain warfare, in deployment in mountainous regions. Among the eight infantry divisions, seven are mountain infantry divisions.

Of the 38 brigades, 30 are mountain brigades and mountain artillery brigades.

Mountain infantry divisions are equipped with helicopter units and artillery adapted to mountain operations in order to give full play to their specialties, Pan wrote.

“After 1962, the Indian army paid attention to learning from the experience and lessons of combat in high and cold mountains. For decades, it has been constantly tempered in actual combat in such areas, and flexibly mastered tactics, such as firepower warfare, air-ground integrated warfare, information warfare, logistics support and anti-support, etc. Their actual combat experience should not be underestimated,” Pan wrote.

The Chinese expert also said that most of the Indian army’s main battle equipment and ground troops are equipped with night vision supplies. “They are good at night attacks, carrying out air raids, ground infiltration, airborne operation on the enemy’s rear.”

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