While the Chinese dragon has been hissing in recent months through its aggressive incursions into Indian territory and its warning to the Indian leadership over issues like Arunachal Pradesh and the Dalai Lama, the Indian elephant is now showing signs of gradually shrugging off its complacence. New Delhi has many China-centric strategic projects in the pipeline, but I’ll focus on just one of the many long-term measures it is taking with China in mind.
The Government of India has sanctioned raising two mountain divisions (one division has roughly 10,000 troops) to be deployed along the India-China border. More significantly, New Delhi has for the first time lifted its 37-year-old freeze on fresh recruitment for the China-specific mountain division. The proposed two mountain divisions will be in addition to the two presently deployed two divisions of the Indian Army. These two new divisions are much needed for better patrolling of the 4,057-kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, and they would help the Indian Army plug gaping operational gaps. As there is no properly demarcated border between the two Asian giants, the LAC is the effective border between India and China. The LAC traverses three parts of Indian states: the west (Ladakh, Kashmir), the centre (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and east (Sikkim, Arunachal).
In another move, the Indian government has also decided to fast track the process of procuring specialized weaponry needed for mountain warfare. The Indian Army’s plans are to procure at least 200 Howitzer guns, which can be carried on horseback or in choppers (depending on local operational requirements) for lending teeth to the remotest posts in these rugged mountains.