Second Phase of China Border Upgrade to Start in Mid-2013
Indian government is hoping to start implementing the second phase of its China border modernization project by mid-2013, when the programme’s first phase, including formation of two new Army divisions and activation of several advanced landing grounds, would be completed. Discussing Indian military capability along the Chinese border, 50 years after its humiliating defeat in the 1962 war, a senior source in the government told TOI that the three military chiefs have been asked to work out an integrated strategy for the second phase.
With the massive military modernization across the border by China and India’s continuous efforts to play catch up, what is unfurling is the world’s biggest conventional military build-up along a frontier anywhere in the post-Cold War era. Half a century after the border war between the two Asian giants, a host of factors are now forcing the huge militarization along the border, their growing economy being among the key factors. The senior government source told ToI that the chiefs of staff committee, comprising the three military chiefs, has been asked to prepare an “integrated strategy” for modernization of military capability along the China border in phase II. “The PMO has asked for an integrated plan. We do not want to have silo approach by the Army, Air Force and Navy,” he said.
The move to evolve an integrated strategy came in the face of an Army proposal to create country’s first and only mountain strike corps along the Chinese border as well as other components, together worth over Rs 64,000 crore. The proposal was approved by the ministry of defence (MoD) and circulated to the finance ministry and the PMO. In response, the PMO has asked the military chiefs to evolve an integrated strategy. He said by mid-2013, the government is hoping that the first phase of the modernization would be complete. This includes the ongoing raising of two new Army divisions, activation of eight advanced landing grounds — air fields abandoned at various times since the World War II — and construction of several roads and tunnels close to the border.
The Indian response along the border, virtually abandoned without any modernization since the 1962 war, started only about a decade ago, after it formally reversed the strategy of not developing border infrastructure. India is far too late in catching up with the Chinese side, which has built an infrastructure, with all-weather roads almost up to their forward military posts. The Indian military also assess that China has built over the years a massive fighting ability across the border. Namrata Goswami, a research fellow at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said in a recent paper that China has replaced its old liquid fuelled CSS-3 missiles with more advanced CSS-5s, deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles north of Tibet, and deployed 13 Border Defence Regiments with around 300,000 PLA troops close to Indian border. The paper also points out that China has established airfields in Hoping, Pangta and Kong Ka in addition to the already existing six airfields in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).
“Of critical value to China’s force structure in this regard is the PLA’s 23 Rapid Reaction Forces (RRFs). The RRFs have been considerably modernised into a hi-tech force equipped for a limited war in the Himalayas. They are on a 24 hour operational mode, and are trained to function in any environment. These units are composed of two group armies, nine divisions, three brigades, and seven regimental or battalion level units with an approximate strength of 400,000 personnel including the Resolving Emergency Mobile Combat Forces (REMCF),” Goswami says.
News source: TimesofIndia