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Decoding the huge accumulation of China along the LAC region: The Tribune India

Rahul Bedi

Senior journalist

The enigmatic tale of the military confrontation along the disputed real control line (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, which was recently provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, invites more questions than it brings to light. answers. The enigma of this military enigma is further complicated by the flood of contradictory statements by Prime Minister Modi, his Ministry of External Affairs and the military, on the one hand, and by the unfavorable statements by the Chinese authorities, on the other. go. These are further aggravated by the historic claims perceived on the unresolved LAC of 3,488 km and the outer limits of the two armies which patrol it.

Most importantly, this impasse raises the unanswered question of how it came about operationally.

Was it caused, like the entry of Kargil in 1999 by Pakistan, by the weakness of the Indian army and the country’s security agencies? After all, it took the Gujjar shepherds in April 1999 to sound the alarm on the intrusion of the Pakistani army through a 160 km long facade in the heights of Kargil to a depth of 8 to 10 km at sea. he interior of Indian territory which sparked an 11-week war in which nearly 600 Indian soldiers died and some 1,200 were injured, some permanently disabled.

Twenty-one years later, the Indian media had to announce the threatening presence of the troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at four critical points on a mountain range of 100 to 150 km along the LAC in the is from Ladakh.

So what caused the perilous situation which exploded in a prolonged crash on the night of June 15-16, in which 20 Indian soldiers, including a colonel officer, died? And, more importantly, who is guilty of the impasse that prevails along the LAC region, which is triggering frantic military and diplomatic negotiations between Beijing and Delhi, which so far means little or nothing? Is it the military, external security and surveillance agencies, or both? Or maybe neither?

It is instructive to examine the three main levels of surveillance and intelligence gathering used to monitor the LAC: on the ground, in the air and in space.

The first level is human intelligence emanating from joint LAC patrols by army Ladakh scouts – headquartered in the Nubra Valley – and the Indo-Tibetan border police, based in Choglamsar near Leh .

The intermediate level of surveillance is imagery and intelligence transmitted by Israeli high-altitude, long-endurance Heron drones, operated by the military and air force from bases around Srinagar.

But the third and most formidable layer of surveillance includes a ring of six to eight military satellites, the images of which are broadcast to the Defense Image Processing and Analysis Center (DIPAC) and to various intelligence agencies. DIPAC is providing these crucial images by four Cartosat-2 and GSAT-29 satellites which are complemented by the Risat-2 advanced radar imagery which was launched in May 2019, and is capable of operating in cloudy conditions and providing detailed images of Earth objects, structures and changes in ground motion, up to a resolution of approximately 0.8 m. These assets are also supplemented by spatial and electronic assets operated by the National Technical Research Organization which has operated under the direction of the National Security Adviser since its creation in 2004.

The images obtained from these sources, created at immense cost over a long period, are analyzed by specialists from the Directorate of Military Intelligence of the Army and NTRO and specialists from the Aeronautical Research Center, a complement from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

All these assets were – as before – regularly dedicated to the surveillance of the IBC before the military confrontation which started in early May. The resulting images and analyzes would undoubtedly have been communicated to the Directorate General of Military Operations (DGMO) of the army, one of whose specialized sections deals exclusively with images from the Pakistani and Chinese borders.

Therefore, it can be unequivocally assumed that the prolonged military exercise of the PLA on the Tibetan plateau, contiguous to the LAC in February, was carefully monitored and illustrated and transmitted to the DGMO and associated agencies. The images would no doubt have captured many PLA platforms, such as howitzers, light tanks, and multiple type 81 and PHL-03 rocket launchers, who participated in these maneuvers, but could not return to the base. Instead, they advanced menacingly towards the LAC, directly threatening the 255 km Darbuk-Shyok-BOD strategic route that emerged as the supposed casus belli for the PLA’s aggression.

All of these offensive platforms, as revealed by more recent satellite images, have been complemented by more than 200 PLA ​​dump and dump trucks, excavator machines and bulldozers to build permanent structures, which also proliferated in the past seven weeks. These land assets were further supported by H-6 strategic bombers, KJ-500 airborne early warning and alert and control systems and Y-8G electronic countermeasures aircraft, J-8F fighters, J-11B and J-17 and Y-7 transport platforms and combat drones.

Security sources admit that the massive accumulation of PLA along the LAC, which ironically seemed to be taking place before the eyes of the supervisors, was largely “ emboldened ” by the lack of deployments in March Indian army routine summer vacation due to the epidemic of the coronavirus pandemic. Retired senior military officers maintain that over the years, this deployment has tended to maintain military balance along the LAC, thereby avoiding confrontation. After all, even amateurs know that a lower force can deter or dissuade a more powerful opponent simply by foiling a surprise attack or ambush by its mere presence, which in turn nullifies the enemy’s intention by surprise and duplicity.

Senior defense analysts believe that if the PLA units and assets along the LAC have been accurately identified by the Chinese government’s spokesperson, The Global Times, they indicate a “ test ” by Beijing of the reorganization of its army, in progress since 2017. “ The situation (on the LAC) presents, perhaps, the first real opportunity for the combined armored brigades of different group armies to come together and prepare for a potential conflict with a real adversary (India) in a short period of time, “said Sameul Cranny-Evans, Editor-in-Chief of British platforms Jane’s Land Warfare. The PLA is undoubtedly seeking to learn lessons of this experience, he warned.

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