We don’t need Agni-V, the intermediate range ballistic missile that we successfully tested on April 19,2012, to give ourselves a deterrent capability against
need it only for a deterrent capability against Pakistan . China
2. Agni-V is a Chinese-centric missile. The Chinese rightly know it and would be evaluating any changes required in their defence strategy vis-à-vis
India in the light of India
having at its disposal a missile capable of hitting targets in mainland China, including . The operational missiles that we
have at our disposal now are in a position to successfully target
Chinese-occupied Beijing Tibet and
Western China such as Sichuan, which are not
yet economically as developed as Eastern China.
Once Agni V becomes operational, India
should be in a position to target those parts of Eastern
China on which its economic prosperity depends.
China’s plans to protect itself against a
possible Indian missile strike have to cover the whole of China, instead of only Western
China as it is till now. Our intelligence agencies have to be on
the look-out for indications of Chinese thinking on this subject.
4. While we are now in a strategically better position to protect ourselves against
China by discouraging Chinese temptations to
intimidate us with its missile capability, this does not mean that our
capability to protect ourselves tactically against will improve with the
induction of Agni V into our arsenal. China
5. Our ability to protect ourselves tactically will depend on our conventional capability to deter a surprise Chinese strike across the Himalayas to occupy areas---particularly in Arunachal Pradesh which it describes as southern
it claims as its territory. Tibet---
6. During the last 10 years, the entire Chinese military planning vis-à-vis
focussed on giving itself such a surprise strike capability. Its improvement of
its road and rail networks in Western China, particularly in India Tibet, its attempts for road-rail connectivity
with Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh,
its improvement of its air bases in Chinese-occupied Tibet
and live firing air exercises in are part of its plans to
strengthen its surprise strike capability. Tibet
7. Our Army did badly in the 1962 Sino-Indian war not because it was a bad fighting force, but because our policy-makers had not given it the required capability to neutralise a Chinese surprise strike. If you do not give the Army the required capability, you cannot blame it for doing badly.
8.Have we now learnt the right lessons from history and given the Army the capability to blunt a surprise Chinese strike and throw them back after inflicting a prohibitive cost on them? Unless we confront the Chinese with the prospects of a prohibitive cost and outcome if they indulge in a surprise strike as they did in 1962, the temptation on their part to launch a surprise strike, if they lose patience with the border talks, will remain.
9. While we are steadily closing the gaps in our strategic military capabilities with
, the gaps
in our tactical capabilities remain and need to be identified and redressed. In
our euphoria over the successful Agni V test, we should not lose sight of the
continuing gaps in tactical capabilities and the need to close them. China
10. The tactical situation that we face today is less favourable than what the Chinese face. In 1962,
China had no military
relationship worth the name with . Today, Pakistan China has a multi-dimensional military
relationship with ,
much of it focussed around the Gilgit-Baltistan axis. In 1962, Pakistan had no
military-related presence in our periphery. Today, it has in China Myanmar, Bangladesh
In 1962, we didn’t have to worry about the Chinese Air Force and Navy. Today,
we have to. Sri Lanka
11. In 1962, the war plans of the Chinese Air Force were largely focussed on
there are indications of a partial shifting of the thinking of their Air Force
towards Taiwan .
In 1962, they had no Navy worth the name. Today, they have a Navy increasingly
capable of operations in the India Indian Ocean.
12. It is my assessment that if the Chinese mount a surprise tactical strike across the
Himalayas now, it will be a joint Army-Air force
operation. It will be a lightning strike designed to satisfy their territorial
objectives in the shortest possible time without running the risk of a
prolonged war. The role of their Navy will be insignificant for some years to
13. We have to have a multi-pronged strategy designed to enable us to pre-empt a tactical Chinese strike with the co-operation of our Tibetan friends and to blunt their strike and throw them back if pre-emption fails. Such a strategy would call for better intelligence collection, better road-rail-air connectivity to the border areas, more well-equipped bases near the border from where our Army and Air Force can operate and a better logistics trail well-tested during peace time.
14. We have already taken steps towards giving shape to such a multi-pronged strategy in the Himalayan area, but the progress in implementation has been slow. Our policy-makers should pay urgent attention to this. Our strategic and tactical thinking continues to be largely Pakistan-centric.
15. Whatever Chinese-centric thinking there has been is largely in the context of our power projection with US blessing. We must remember : If there is another limited border war with
imposed on us by Beijing, the will have no
role in helping us. We have to fight and win the war alone. Are we in a
position to do so? US
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of
India, New Delhi,
and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and
Associate of the Chennai Centre For Studies. E-mail:
email@example.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 ) China