A year has passed since India and China clashed in the Galwan Valley. The Chinese forces are still in the area, and there is no sign of a return to the status quo. India is expanding its military infrastructure in order to increase army deployment, which is currently between 50,000 and 60,000 personnel.
Over the last year, the Indian Army has focused on improving road connection for speedy mobilization of soldiers and improving equipment to be better prepared to counter Chinese belligerence in Ladakh, while a final resolution appears far off. The Indian Army has prepared to grind it out as the Chinese dig in even after the first disengagement in the Pangong lake area in February.
Last year, the Indian Army has maintained an extended military presence of nearly 50,000 boots on the ground in Ladakh, especially through the hard winter when temperatures drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius. According to the authorities, India is logistically and tactically prepared to meet Chinese aggression if and when it occurs.
In the winter, providing supplies during a peacetime deployment is difficult, and with roughly five times the number of troops operating in advanced positions, the full war machine was called into action.
Despite the withdrawal at Pangong Lake, there has been no progress after 11 rounds of military negotiations at the Corps Commander level.
The Galwan skirmish claimed the lives of twenty Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers. Last year on June 15, a conflict erupted, resulting in a war-like situation. Colonel Santosh Babu, the commanding officer of 16 Bihar, was among the Indian troops who died in the attempt to prevent a Chinese misadventure.
By the end of August 2020, there had been a further buildup across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and the picturesque Pangong Lake, at 14,000 feet, had become a battleground. India occupied important mountain peaks in the Kailash Range, which overlooks the lake’s southern side.
After the Galwan confrontation on June 15, the two sides agreed that the region up to Patrolling Point (PP) 14 would be a no-patrol zone. Both sides retreated 1.5 kilometres, and the region became a buffer zone.
The confrontation occurred when India complained to China’s surveillance station near the PP 14.
The Indian team retreated 700 metres. The first camp lies 700 metres back, followed by camps 2 and 3 at around the same distance, with Indian troops stationed nearby to keep an eye on Chinese activity.
According to sources, though no patrolling will take place until PP 14 — the site of collision — it is vital to keep a close eye on Chinese operations using various surveillance means as they continue to be present in large numbers not far from the disputed area. There has, however, been no unpleasant incidence.
Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia (retd.), former Director General Operations, said the journey had been long. “Status quo is still a long way off,” he added, “but the fact that disengagement occurred in the most volatile area is a good sign.” There has been no more escalation since then. It’s a patience game.”
“Many more Galwans may have been present, and the Chinese would have anticipated this. “However, our response, commanded by Col Santosh Babu, dissuaded them,” said Lt. Gen. Bhatia.
“This was the first winter following the Ladakh unrest. We are now better equipped to sustain operations in the same or even larger numbers for years to come,” the army officer stated.
Fast erectable modular shelters were included in the lodging for troops to survive the extreme cold and wind chill factor.
Aside from the smart camps with integrated amenities that have been established throughout time, further state-of-the-art habitat with integrated arrangements for power, water, heating facilities, health and hygiene has recently been erected to accommodate the soldiers.
It’s not only about the troops on the ground; it’s also about a shift in tactics and increased monitoring to keep an eye on Chinese actions.
This includes additional boats that will be deployed in the Pangong lake, which has been a flashpoint in the year-long battle.
According to reports, the Indian Army has begun receiving new boats appropriate for deployment in Pangong Lake for ferrying soldiers and surveillance.
The army required two types of boats: one for patrolling and surveillance, and the other for speedy deployment of troops on the lake’s shores in order to decrease the time spent manoeuvring over the hilly terrain.
The Indian Army would be receiving 29 boats in phases over the next few months. In January of this year, 12 boats were ordered for surveillance and patrolling, and 17 more for ferrying troops who were to be part of a separate fast response squad.
These boats can transport up to 20 personnel and their equipment, and they may be utilised for rapid mobilisation. The enhanced version of Israel’s Heron drones, which will be deployed at the Line of Actual Control, is also in the works (LAC).
As the standoff drags on, China has beefed up its monitoring capabilities.
China recently conducted a test of its new plateau-type UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in the Kailash Range, south of Pangong Lake, where India evacuated mountain summits as part of the disengagement agreement.
According to intelligence reports, the UAV intended to be used for surveillance on Indian positions near the Kailash Range was developed in Shaanxi and completed its first flying and control task at Gar Gunsa in Tibet Autonomous Region. India maintains that the status quo as of April 2020 must be restored, with the exception of the initial disengagement from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake, where the UAV was developed.
There are no signs of a de-induction to be found. This disengagement was supposed to pave the way for troop, tank, and other heavy armour vehicle de-induction and, eventually, de-escalation, but that hasn’t occurred.
Other stumbling blocks at Gogra, Hot Springs, and Depsang remain unresolved. Both sides’ tanks and personnel have withdrawn, and there is no direct conflict, but the build-up in eastern Ladakh continues.
In previous discussions, India has stated that the disengagement must take place over eastern Ladakh. The buildup in Depsang was not included in the present impasse, which began in early May of last year.
Since the escalation in 2013, India has insisted that all disputes in eastern Ladakh be handled via military commander talks.
PC- Economic Times, BBC News