China wants to build its military base in the Indian Ocean region. India is also increasing its offensive capabilities in the naval sector to compensate for its strategic defensive posture in the continental region.
Two nuclear-armed nations, India and China, came face-to-face on December 9 in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh to compete in the sub-zero temperature zone at an altitude of 16,000 feet. His soldiers were equipped with weapons but he did not use them. Perhaps following the orders of their political masters through their military officers, the soldiers of both countries merely fought, pushed and beat each other. Some of the soldiers attacked with sticks due to which some were seriously injured and some had to be hospitalized.
Military force was used only to the extent of mutual consent. The meeting lasted only a short time. The local commanders quickly held a meeting and blamed each other. A statement was issued to cover up this matter, emphasizing that such incidents should not happen in the future.
Such incidents have been happening for many years, except for the clash in Galwan Valley in June 2020 which resulted in some casualties on both sides. It was expected that more such incidents would follow, although when, where and how they would occur could not be said with certainty, but India’s political will and military capacity to retaliate could not be doubted. .
Around the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC), China has ample space for such activities. But it is important to distinguish between two types of potential problems. The first problem is that the areas patrolled by both sides are within their respective claims and are interpreted differently. Patrolling is usually done for a short period of time. Patrollers from both sides may encounter and skirmish, sometimes culminating in skirmishes.
As in Depsang in Ladakh, when a patrol party occupies an empty space and makes a permanent base there, there is a second problem that makes it difficult for us to patrol. It was called ‘salami slicing’. It changes the status quo and also changes control over land.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told the Parliament that the Chinese army tried to change the status quo in the LAC by encroaching on the Yangtze, but the Indian army, being vigilant and taking timely action, foiled this attempt. Although it is not clearly stated, but this statement indicates that the Chinese army is trying to capture the places that were not occupied by anyone or to dislodge our army from some places.
Considering the nature of the incident, it is more likely that the first attempt will be made. After the Nathula incident of 1967, China has not attacked any of India’s border posts but has changed the status of land occupation in some places and India lost those places without a fight. The question now is whether India’s military preparedness can prevent such losses in the future. Does the Yangtze incident offer any hope?
It certainly gives hope, if we don’t ignore the bigger benefits in the name of smaller benefits. The small gain here is the capture of small areas by China, and the big issue is the confrontation with other countries, including the US and Japan (which have officially declared China’s ‘biggest strategic challenge’) and China’s strategic goals in a broader perspective. who
India’s strategists should know this big game and strategize accordingly. It should be understood that the military pressure created to expand one’s control under the guise of a land dispute also plays a role. Its goal is to force India to confine itself to the subcontinent so as to weaken its role in the Sino-US rivalry.
Militarily, China is trying to limit India by putting pressure on the northern border and Pakistan. Along with this, China is trying to enter the neighbouring region of India by using the supply of economic tools and military equipment as a weapon and aims to establish its base in the Indian Ocean region. The region could become a strategic weakness for China if it fails to secure trade routes critical to its economic power. He has already started the construction of military bases in Djibouti, Pakistan and Myanmar. For this, he is now looking at Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and some African countries.
Naval capabilities can change the equation
India’s strategists will always face challenges due to its resource capacity to defend the country’s borders and strengthen its naval capabilities. India’s strategic options for developing military power must be aligned with the threat China and Pakistan face on the continent and its ability to challenge them on the naval front. Importantly, the naval side opens up the possibility of cooperation with countries whose interests overlap with those of India, such as the US, Japan and Western countries.
In the continental region, a strategically defensive posture vis-à-vis China and Pakistan will have to be offset by enhanced naval offensive capabilities. I This can change the balance of power. This emphasizes the need to maintain balance by bringing troops from the west to the north. This process may be underway, but it also demands restructuring of its combat capabilities, centred on the ‘Strike Corps’. Consolidation of large territories is no longer a realistic political goal. The Navy needs inherent attack capabilities of submarines, aircraft carriers and seagoing ships.
All of these are very expensive and take a long time to develop and produce It takes and requires foreign technical help. This certainly cannot be achieved by allocating 17.8 per cent of the defence budget to the Navy. The Air Force, which plays an important role in the continental and maritime sectors, also needs to replace various equipment that are reaching the end of its life. Hence, the delay in the procurement of aircraft, submarines, aircraft carriers and naval vessels is a matter of concern.
what should be done
The bottom line is that even with 1.8 lakh posts vacant, the Army is ready to fight land threats, but India is still a long way from becoming that kind of player in the naval arena with its strength on land. is That potential cannot be achieved without a major increase in the defence budget, which by contrast is shrinking as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of government spending. At the same time, resources must be allocated taking into account the identification of operational instruments linked to the broader strategic picture and political goals.
Developing military capabilities has always been a challenge. It should be guided by the ‘vision’ generated by the major powers operating in the strategic environment and therefore facilitated by the prioritization of national goals. The answer lies in India’s ‘vision’ of emerging as a force to be reckoned with in a directionless world in terms of national security and development. In the absence of this vision and strategy, preference is given to short-termism and sabotage, which may be politically useful but detrimental to the national interest.
Incidents like the Yangtze should make us aware of the reality of the land. At the same time, lest they blind us to important strategic factors.