India may add 35,000 troops along China border as tensions simmer, changing the status quo forever


    Twenty Indian soldiers and unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in an ugly skirmish on June 15 and since then, both sides have rushed soldiers, artillery and tanks to the region. With border agreements not holding, the situation requires additional troops, and the nature of the LAC, at least in Ladakh, has changed forever, says an expert.

    By Sudhi Ranjan Sen

    India is preparing to position an additional 35,000 troops along its Himalayan border with China as the possibility of an early resolution to the deadly tensions between the two neighbours fades.

    The move would change the status quo along the contested 3,488 kilometer (2,162 mile) Line of Actual Control and stretch the nation’s already tight military budget, senior Indian officials said, asking not to be identified citing rules on speaking to the media.

    Twenty Indian soldiers and unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in an ugly skirmish on June 15 and since then, both sides have rushed thousands of soldiers, artillery guns and tanks to the region. With India-China border agreements not holding, the situation required additional troops, the officials said.

    “The nature of the Line of Control, at least in Ladakh, has changed forever,” the director of Delhi-based think-tank The United Service Institution of India and retired major general, B K Sharma said. “Additional troops rushed by either side will not move back, unless there is a rapprochement at the highest political level.”

    For now, the skirmishes have stopped. And after several rounds of high level military talks, Beijing said troops were disengaging in most locations.

    “Currently the two sides are actively preparing for the fifth round of commander-level talks to resolve outstanding issues on the ground,” China Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. “We hope the Indian side will work towards the same goal with China, implement the two sides’ consensus and jointly uphold peace and tranquility along the border.”

    The Indian Army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Stretched Budget
    The extra deployment to eastern Ladakh comes as the Indian Army is heavily committed — from protecting the 742 kilometer (460 mile) disputed border with Pakistan, to counter insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and north eastern states and monitoring every ingress point along its border with China.

    Strengthening border defences comes at huge cost and places new pressure on the nation’s military modernization program. While New Delhi is the world’s third-biggest military spender, its air force, navy and the army are still equipped with weapons that are largely obsolete.

    About 60% of defence spending goes to paying salaries for India’s 1.3 million soldiers — one of the world’s largest standing armies. What’s left is spent on past purchases, leaving the forces with obsolete equipment and not enough ammunition.

    “The additional commitment in Ladakh would put further pressure on serviceability, research and development and capital expenditure as revenue cost rise,” Laxman Kumar Behera, a senior research fellow at the Delhi based think-tank Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses said. “It will be painful if the defence budget isn’t increased.”

    — With assistance from Colum Murphy.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

    17 Comments on this Story

    Narasimhan Bangalore53 days ago
    That’s the ultimate solution however it may stretch our resources and finances! Let us compensate in other areas to overcome the necessity!
    Ravindran Pranatharthy54 days ago
    PM Modi must stop meeting Xi at the drop of a hat. It has cheapened the Indian PM with the snake eating chinese.. Modi was also not wise to take every modern leader to gandhi ashram in gujarat to play the anachronistic wooden chakra.New age leaders will not be mpressed by showing them what gandhi said or did. Show them our military might and industrial ability or our IITs.
    He must shore up nuclear forces and start a nuclear arms race by stocking up both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, alongside modern conventional weapons.. China and Pakistan fear only such nuclear weapons.
    Dayashankar Upadhyay56 days ago
    Heartening to note apprising public of the factual position obtaining . While reporting situation you claim that Army , Navy And Air Force are equipped with obsolete ammunition . Conclusion is gore gone .Himan wall only has little meaning . I would appreciate you must dissect and start a tirade as who is responsible for this weakness and how to punish who contributed this ???
    The Economic Times