Indian Army not ready for War with China The Indian Army calls the black topped road Charlie 1.
But after a five hour drive from Leh when it skirts the breathtakingly beautiful 134 kilometres long Pangong Tso lake, Charlie 1 ceases to be a road. It twists and dissolves into a dust trail as soon as it crosses the lake that is split down the centre between India and China. The gravel track races eastwards for a back breaking 20 km until it meets the Line of Actual Control with China. Here, the difference across the border is stark: concrete all weather roads which can be used to rush troops and equipment. The lack of infrastructure is evident in the military posture on either side. While the Indian Army actively mans the borders, the Chinese Army is deployed several kilometres away from it. The two countries have maintained tranquil borders since 1993 as they discuss the contentious 3,350 km boundary dispute. If the PLA were to mount a repeat of the 1962 war, it would be in the vulnerable Demchok sector, 300 km from Leh. An army officer runs his finger over this sector south of Leh. "Chinese armoured and infantry columns can drive up to Leh in a day," he says. The situation is no different in Tawang, a border town in Arunachal Pradesh that China claims. Morale is high, but lack of infrastructure is a dampener. "We won't allow a repeat of 1962, but we need good roads. Look at China's development across the border," says a jawan posted at Yangtze, 53 km from Tawang. The PLA has built a two lane highway for its military to drive up to the border. Long stretches of Tawang's sole link to India, a 320 km road from Chariduar town in Assam, remain a muddy track. Over the past decade the Chinese Army has built a road rail network of over 58,000 km and nine new military airfields on the Tibetan plateau. It took the PLA two years to deploy 22 divisions against India in the 1970s. It can now deploy 34 divisions or over 4,00,000 soldiers in a month. In contrast, nearly one fourth of India's strategic border roads totalling 600 km remain unfinished (see graphic). These roads were identified by the China Study Group as vital for the army to rush troops to the border in case of war. Delays in environment clearances and slow work mean they will be complete only by 2017. A breakdown at Chariduar, in Assam, on Tawang's sole road link to India Little has changed since the yet to be declassified Henderson Brooks report of 1963 which blamed India's defeat in 1962 at the hands of China on poor equipment, unpreparedness and non existent communication links. "There is no way 1962 will be repeated," emphasises an army official. "Mountain warfare calls for a ratio of nine attackers for every defender and that puts us at an advantage. The Chinese will not be able to get past the Indian Army," he says. Hollow men, bloated machine In March this year, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) deliberated over a burberry deals online shocking presentation. An internal study by the Indian Army found critical shortages of Rs 60,000 crore worth of ammunition, missiles and equipment. This is roughly 10 per cent of the army's total inventory of Rs 9 lakh crore worth of equipment. "Forget modernisation or transformation, we are extremely low on our existing inventories and war wastage reserves," says a senior army officer. Years of accumulated neglect have hollowed out the core of the world's second largest army and rendered it unfit for war. Another senior officer mentions existing deficiencies of "between 20 and 30 per cent" in the three strike corps, the army's principal offensive formations. This means the army effectively has only two strike corps. It explains why former army chief General Deepak Kapoor told the CCS after the 26/11 Mumbai attack that the army "was not ready for war". The last war the army fought, evicting intruders from the Kargil heights in 1999, was on its own soil. Eleven years on, the wars the army is now preparing to fight are gigantic. It envisages a simultaneous "two and a half front war": against Pakistan and China as well as an internal insurgency. It has a shopping list of $50 billion (Rs 2.2 lakh crore) to meet these threats. Weapons not bought include artillery worth Rs 20,000 crore, and air defence missiles worth Rs 10,000 crore. These have left gaping holes in its preparedness. Hence, a projected surge in its combat ratio to 1:1.5 or a one and a half times superiority in troops and equipment over the Pakistan Army by 2012 has not materialised. Despite the Indian Army's Rs 83,000 crore spend accounting for over half the total defence budget, the fighting machine is bloated. The 1.1 million strong force will add 30,000 soldiers to counter the China threat by 2015, its largest expansion in three decades. The force carries a colonial legacy of over 50,000 drivers and sahayaks (orderlies). Yet, there are shortages where it matters. The army has 35,000 officers and is wrestling with a crippling shortage of between 22 and 24 per cent. Its 400 odd infantry battalions, each with 800 soldiers, currently function with less than half the sanctioned strength of 40 officers. It needs 12,000 young captains and majors to lead its sections and companies in the field. Limited war, not long haul At the root of the army's rot is the lack of an effective political and administrative vision. The army continues to remain platform centric, insisting on individual weapon platforms such as tanks and howitzers, rather than becoming mission or capability centric. The Ministry of Defence instructs the army to remain burberry online prepared for a full scale war lasting up to 90 days. In case of a simultaneous two front war with China and Pakistan, the army is also tasked with "defeating Pakistan" and "holding China". The defence ministry believes that such a wide ambit will let the army prepare for a full spectrum of conflict, including lesser contingencies. In reality, the lumbering army is struggling to keep up. At a time when modern armies are retooling themselves into leaner fighting machines for local conflicts, the Indian Army still envisages fighting battles on a large scale. Pakistan continues to be an obsession. Next month, the army is to undertake a massive military manoeuvre, Sudarshan Shakti, in the Rajasthan desert near the border. It has been 25 years since it held a similar corps level (24,000 soldiers) exercise to assess its preparations on the Chinese border. "Indian military transformation has lagged primarily because the political leadership with the vision and capacity for transformation doesnt exist," says Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar. "And, therefore, the traditional equipment centric modernisation continues instead of a deeper transformation around objectives and capabilities for those mission objectives," he says. The 2.25 million strong Chinese Army, in contrast, is focusing on fighting only local or limited wars. China's military spends have trebled in a decade from $27.9 billion in 2000 burberry tote bag outlet to $91.5 billion this year. It is acquiring high technology and developing indigenous weapon systems. It is also moving to trans regional mobility or the ability to swiftly move troops across its seven military districts. "The PLA is rapidly transforming into a light, lethal, agile and networked force that will soon be capable of taking the fight into the adversary's territory," says Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal of the army's Centre for Land Warfare Studies, based in New Delhi. Experts say the Indian Army must respond with a similar limited war doctrine. Bakshi. The army's existing battle strategy that revolves around three strike corps (each with one lakh troops and 1,000 fighting vehicles) has been hit by outdated technology. Roughly a third of its Rs 2.5 lakh crore equipment inventory comprises outdated equipment. Two critical projects worth over $2 billion (Rs 90,000 crore) to equip infantry soldiers with modern assault rifles and night vision devices and another one to allow high speed encrypted communication links between army formations are over a decade behind schedule. The army functions on a communications system developed in the 1970s that has negligible data transmission. "We are fighting fourth generation warfare (insurgencies), preparing for third generation warfare (conventional conflicts) with a Second World War mindset," says a general. Only two major weapon systems have been acquired since the Kargil war: over 1,000 T 90 tanks and Smerch long range rockets from Russia. Meanwhile, its infantrymen lack lightweight body armour and modern helmets. The army officially admits that close to 80 per cent of its 3,500 tanks are not equipped with night vision devices and hence cannot fight at night. The new T 90 tanks in the strike formations are protected by 1960s vintage air defence missiles. Their replacements, modern long range surface to air missiles from Israel, are still years away from induction. The army's solution for China's looming threat has been a Government sanction for adding four more mountain divisions of 12,000 soldiers each. Two of these divisions will form part of a new mountain strike corps to mount an offensive into Tibet. Yet, a tardy acquisition programme threatens to derail even this modest addition to its offensive strategy. Among the key equipment this new strike corps requires are heavy lift helicopters, gunships, howitzers and modern communication systems. The army has not bought a single new 155 mm howitzer since 1987 when the last of the 410 Bofors guns were delivered. Its Field Artillery Modernisation Plan, which aims at buying 2,200 155 mm guns for Rs 22,000 crore, is running a decade behind schedule. A cumbersome defence acquisition procedure ensures it takes up to eight years to buy a weapons system. The army earmarks roughly $4 billion (Rs 1,80,000 crore) each year for buying burberry sample sale new military hardware. "Our funds are getting utilised but not in a visible way that would greatly increase our firepower or offset our deficiencies," says an army official. Unlike the US military, the Indian Army does not post its best officers to the armament acquisition sections at its 10 'line directorates' like infantry, artillery and armoured corps. The best officers still go to Military Operations and the Military Secretary's branch (which handles postings and promotions). A 2002 internal army study found that eight of these 10 line directorate heads were on the verge of retirement. The acquisition wings continue to get low priority. The army's director general (weapons and equipment) retires at the end of October.
Officers often do brief two year tenures in the highly specialised acquisition branches. "We need quality acquisition staff with longer tenures. An efficient acquisition organisation not only expedites procurement but also saves time," says Major General Mrinal Suman.
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