To deal with China on LAC, India must downsize and restructure the armed forces

By The Print

There is optimism in the air with respect to the proposed 12th round of Corps Commander–level talks between India and China that are likely to be held in near future. As per anonymous government/military sources, a deal is likely to be struck for disengagement in the Gogra-Hot Springs area.

It is hoped that this may pave the way for disengagement in the remaining two intrusion areas in Depsang Plains and south of Demchok. Given the past experience, the best India can hope for is disengagement with buffer zones, spread mostly in areas earlier under our control.

Whatever be the outcome of the diplomatic/military engagement, confrontation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh and elsewhere has created a new strategic reality for India. China, which is hell–bent on exploiting the unsettled borders to assert its hegemony, is now India’s primary and permanent adversary.

Mutual suspicion will force deployment of reserves within striking distance of the LAC. India has to review its strategy to deter China, which so far has been based on reactive massive deployment of land forces to safeguard further loss of territory.

Strategic review
A strategic review will highlight the harsh reality and tough decisions that India must take to confront and compete with China.

There is a huge differential between the comprehensive national power (CNP) of the two neighbours, particularly with respect to economic and military components. Until our GDP becomes at least 50 per cent of China’s, which will take no less than 10-15 years of sustained economic development, we have to rely on deterrence by dissuasion and denial rather than punishment.

Our defence budget too is unlikely to increase exponentially in the near future. Our salary and pension budget is disproportionately high. Unless we reduce and optimise the size of our land forces, we cannot modernise them.

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