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Sumit Sinha asked: What is the logic for raising of Mountain Strike Corps in the East and how does it affect the Balance of Power given China’s numerical superiority?

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  • Rumel Dahiya replies:India shares land borders in the North East with Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Bhutan and Nepal. The terrain is mountainous which requires a higher density of troops for defence. Presently, only six mountain divisions are deployed in the North East. Considering the length of the land border to be defended and the involvement of the Army for internal security duties it was felt that the force levels have to be augmented.

    India does not covet the territory of its neighbours. However, it must be prepared at all times to defend its own territory against any hostile neighbour. Since its formations on the Western borders will take time to redeploy in case of war in the North East, it was assessed that additional formations will have to be raised and located in the North East itself. The formations being raised are neither China specific nor earmarked for an offensive inside China’s territory. However, these could be employed both for defensive and offensive operations depending upon the requirement.

    It is true that China has upgraded its communication and logistic infrastructure in TAR tremendously, which gives it a capability to move a large number of offensive formations to the Indo-Tibet border in a relatively short period and sustain them logistically over a long period. The terrain across the border also facilitates this movement and sustenance. Although relations with China are improving gradually, but the build of Chinese capability and the opacity of its decision making process and rapid pace of military modernisation lead to suspicion about its intentions.

    Looking at the military balance, even after raising the two mountain divisions, the numerical superiority in manpower alone will still be favourable to China by a factor of at least 1:2, if not more. And since the military balance is not a factor of number of troops alone, the overall superiority in combat potential will continue to be enjoyed by China till India upgrades its infrastructure, improves long range fire power, C4I2 capability, its air power and missile capability. It is felt that the two divisions being raised will merely suffice to plug gaps in India’s defensive deployment in the North East for the present.