Rahul Datta | New Delhi Tuesday, June 29, 2010
In an unprecedented move that has confirmed India’s concerns about China’s growing military might, the Government has for the first time given a directive in writing to the armed forces to enhance their military capabilities vis-a-vis the neighbouring country and prepare for a two-front war scenario with China and Pakistan.
Asking the armed forces to prepare themselves to fight simultaneous wars on the eastern and western fronts with China and Pakistan, Defence Minister AK Antony has directed the chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force to rapidly modernise and upgrade their weapon systems and tone up operational preparedness.
The Services have been assured full support from the Government in this endeavour, sources said.
Explaining the significance of the directive, the sources maintained that it came against the backdrop of the armed forces’ apprehensions about the rapid modernisation programme of their Chinese counterparts. The directive will allow the armed forces to build capabilities to rapidly move troops from one theatre of war to the other by procuring more transport planes and improved rail and road network for ferrying weapons systems.
Modern warfare was all about speed, lethality and mobility and the directive would go a long way in helping the armed forces achieve this objective as soon as possible, the sources added.
The directive follows the Cabinet Committee on Security’s (CCS) nod to the Army to raise two more mountain divisions (each division has 10,000 troops) on the China front. With the focus on improving infrastructure, the Army was last year allowed to raise two mountain divisions. It means that in the next four or five years, it would have four divisions on the China front.
The Government has also removed the 10-year cap on recruitment and permitted the Army to go for fresh intakes. Coupled with this important development, the Government has cleared the proposal to acquire more than 200 Howitzer guns for these divisions through the foreign military sale route from the US.
“The Howitzer guns are light. These can be dismantled and carried on horseback or by helicopters to the remote and rugged terrain of Arunachal Pradesh and other such regions in Jammu & Kashmir where road infrastructure is non-existent,” sources said.
While the two-front war concept was in public domain and being discussed in seminars and TV debates, the political leadership had so far refrained from joining the debate. The recently-issued directive clearly indicates that the Government has finally heeded the concerns of the armed forces and given them unambiguous orders to go ahead and do the needful, sources said.
This decision would give the necessary momentum to the security establishment to improve the infrastructure, including all-weather roads right up to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and airports and helipads in remote regions of States like Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, the armed forces are already engaged in upgrading nearly 25 airports in the North-East and the project is likely to be over within the next two years.
India and China have a 5,000-km-long disputed border and the Chinese have over the years rapidly improved their logistical lines by building roads right up to their side of the LAC. India is in a disadvantageous position as the terrain on its side is hilly and building roads there takes more time than in the plains, sources said, adding that the slopes on the Chinese side are gentler.
Brace for two-front war, Army told by Rahul Datta | New Delhi
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