Be­yond 1962


Be­fore De­fence Min­is­ter A.K. An­thony met his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Liang Guan­glie, New Delhi re­port­edly asked Bei­jing to limit its foot­prints in POK. Not that China will pay any heed but it is a be­gin­ning. It would have been equally good not to re­strict Ti­betan students dur­ing Guan­lie’s visit. Why bend back­wards when Zhang Yan, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador, tells an In­dian jour­nal­ist to “shut up” when asked why Chi­nese maps de­picted en­tire J&K as Pak­istani ter­ri­tory”.

Guan­glie’s poser that China is con­cerned about US build up in Asia-Pa­cific should be seen in the light that once China de­ploys SLBMs’ with sec­ond strike ca­pa­bil­ity and de­ploys a car­rier group in Hainan cou­pled with weapons in space and cy­ber ca­pa­bil­ity to kill crit­i­cal net­works, US may find it a prob­lem to de­fend Tai­wan with China’s AA/AD (anti-ac­cess/ area-de­nial) strat­egy.

For­get the cliché that the West wants us to have a war with China. The fact is that when China wants to at­tack us it will. The hype about Guan­glie want­ing to up­grade mil­i­tary ties with us could be the per­fect ruse, his visit more likely to as­sess first-hand the mood in In­dia. The fact is that the PLA is get­ting more and more say in for­eign pol­icy, con­trol of CCCP is shift­ing shortly to hard­liner ‘princelings’ and the gen­er­a­tion five years hence will be even more as­sertive.

The 1962 in­va­sion was timed to co­in­cide with the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis. Next con­flict with In­dia maybe timed with an­other US en­gage­ment in the Mid­dle East, at­tack­ing Tai­wan. Or con­flict in Asia-Pa­cific. PLA want­ing good re­la­tions and the com­mu­nist hi­er­ar­chy not lis­ten­ing to them is bunkum; sta­pled visas is­sue, deny­ing visa to North­ern Army Com­man­der, sports­men from Arunachal etc. Sur­prise, de­cep­tion and pre-emp­tion have been hall­marks of Chi­nese strat­egy. The US strat­egy of ‘Asia Pivot’ was per­haps fore­seen by China much ear­lier and coun­ters es­tab­lished by way of North Korea, Pak­istan, Iran, Libya, Syria, Su­dan, Ye­men and So­ma­lia.

China’s peace hom­i­lies are ex­posed with her train­ing, arm­ing and ad­vis­ing the Tal­iban how to fight in Afghanistan, sup­port­ing Pak­istan’s anti-In­dia ji­hadi pol­icy, pro­vid­ing sanc­tu­ar­ies/train­ing/arm­ing ULFA, sup­port­ing Nepalese Maoists and now arm­ing our North­east ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Maoists. China’s in­creas­ing en­cir­clement of In­dia and claims to more In­dian ter­ri­tory does not im­ply China will never at­tack us. We would be naive if we can’t see through the gains that China will have through de­mil­i­tari­sa­tion of Si­achen while al­ready sit­ting in POK (Gil­git-Baltistan), Aksai Chin and Shaks­gam. It is fool­ish if we do not recog­nise mul­ti­ple in­di­ca­tors that China and Pak­istan want to balka­nise In­dia.

We fought a su­pe­rior en­emy in 1962 not be­cause of its size but be­cause we lacked strate­gic fore­thought, could not read the en­emy, had poor po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship and had an army that was armed, equipped and trained very poorly. What we must do is dis­pas­sion­ately ap­praise our state to­day with that of 1962. 21st cen­tury wars are quite dif­fer­ent from those of 1962 era. Both China and Pak­istan have been wag­ing asym­met­ric wars against us for past sev­eral years and we are yet to de­velop de­ter­rence even against ir­reg­u­lar forces.

Any fu­ture con­flict with China will not only wit­ness an ‘in­formised’ PLA in ac­tion with op­ti­mum use of rapid re­ac­tion forces (in­clud­ing third di­men­sion) and net­work-cen­tric war­fare but fully ac­ti­vated do­mains of space, cy­berspace and the elec­tro­mag­netic. Cy­ber at­tacks to kill crit­i­cal net­works and mul­ti­ple mis­sile and EMP at­tacks cou­pled with laser and plasma weapons can be expected. Use of tac­ti­cal nu­clear weapons should not be to­tally dis­counted. We may not have match­ing econ­omy or mil­i­tary forces but we must fo­cus on hit­ting the en­emy crit­i­cal ar­eas con­ven­tion­ally, un­con­ven­tion­ally and asym­met­ri­cally. The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

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