India is set to launch its biggest war games in disputed Arunachal Pradesh, near the Chinese border.
The exercise, involving around 15,000 soldiers, including air force personnel, is most likely to coincide with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in October for bilateral dialogue on a range of issues, including the border dispute.
The exercise will also serve as a launching ground for Integrated Battle Groups (IBG) by the Indian Army’s 17 Mountain Corps.
IBG is a brand new war-fighting concept that includes a cross-border strike capability mooted by Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat last December. The exercise will be carried out at an altitude of 10,000-feet in the presence of General Rawat, along with other top commanders of the 1.3 million-strong Indian Army.
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In 2005, India and China signed an agreement discouraging each other from holding exercise in the region involving more than 15,000 troops.
“As part of the war games, the troops of the Tezpur-based 4 Corps will be deployed at a high altitude location to defend their ‘territory’ while a brigade-sized force (over 2,500 troops) of the 17 Mountain Strike Corps would be airlifted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to ‘launch an offensive’ against them”, top Indian Army sources told the news agency ANI.
India’s war doctrine emphasizes that all forces deployed along the Chinese border shall be self-contained in all aspects and capable of fighting in isolation. “Strike formations shall be suitably mobilized, postured and acclimatized for rapid application”, it adds.
India and China share a nearly 4,000 km border and, aside from the middle sector, most of the region has a disputed border, including Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.
The recent border tension started in August this year when New Delhi declared Ladakh a separate administrative territory.
China expressed serious concern over this and asked India to restore the status of Ladakh, which India politely declined, claiming the decision does not have any impact on the status of the Line of Actual Control – a loose demarcation that separates the two Asian giants.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi canceled his visit to New Delhi, scheduled for 9 September, where he was supposed to hold special representative talks on the boundary question.
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