China recently paraded its army officer that apparently went against Indian soldiers during the Galwan valley clash, in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The parading of the soldier was proof that China had finally, albeit reluctantly, accepted that a brawl indeed took place. While China took India by surprise with its coward attack at first, the Indian forces struck back and struck hard by capturing the advanced outposts in the mountainous regions of the LAC.
Ever since China has been circumspect about taking on the Indians, so much so has been the fear of Indian troops amongst the loaned PLA soldiers that they fear going against them. Huang Guozhi, senior editor of Modern Weaponry magazine, in the aftermath of Galwan remarked that India had the most sophisticated armed forces for mountain warfare.
Chinese expert speaking PLA troops tongue
“At present, the world’s largest and experienced country with plateau and mountain troops is neither the US, Russia, nor any European powerhouse, but India,” wrote Huang Guozhi.
It is pertinent to note that Guozhi’s magazine is considered a comprehensive military and defence journal. It is affiliated to the state-owned China North Industries Group Corporation Limited (NORINCO), which describes itself as “the main platform responsible for developing mechanised, digitised and intellectualised equipment for PLA”. Thus, Guozhi was indirectly speaking the tongue of the PLA troops.
Indian troops and their mountain training
Mountaineering is an indispensable part of almost every soldier of the Indian mountain division. India guards the highest battlefield in the world in Siachen. Only the cream of the crop is deployed in such hostile conditions. And yet, year after year, such brave hearts are chiselled with utmost perfection by the army.
For the majority of the soldiers, the mountains are their second home, with few knowing the ins and outs of the region like the back of their hands.
SFF – China’s worst nightmare
As reported by TFI, it was India’s secretive Special Frontier Force (SFF) that pre-empted Chinese strikes in the region and put the PLA troops in their place. Being fully aware of the local terrains and already accustomed to the environment, it was SFF that made China crawl back in its burrow hole.
Strictly speaking, the SFF units are not part of the Army but they function under the operational control of the Army. The units have their own rank structures which have equivalent status with Army ranks. However, they are highly trained special forces personnel who can undertake a variety of tasks that would normally be performed by any special forces unit.
Read more: Revenge is a dish best served cold: How India gave Tibetans the opportunity to start reclaiming their land
The battle of the mountains
The Finger Area, a set of eight cliffs overlooking the Pangong lake is in the eye of the storm. However, the challenge of high altitude warfare means that Chinese soldiers have never really managed to get an upper hand in the region.
Magar hill, Gurung Hill, Recehen La, Rezang La, Mokhpari and the dominating height over Chinese positions near Finger 4 were some of the strategic mountainous locations that Indian forces won against the Chinese. And yet the media will want the reader to believe otherwise.
While the Indian troops fight for their country and take training seriously to develop themselves into absolute beasts, the same cannot be said about China. Most of the troops in the PLA are conscripts. Thus, their motivation to join the army is purely monetary and a way to complete the mandatory army service and quickly get on with civilian life.
Read more: China gets a taste of its own medicine as Indian Army’s SFF with Tibetan soldiers gives a bloody nose to PLA
While China blindly deputizes its soldiers at the LAC, Indian soldiers along the border have undergone necessary acclimatisation to be deployed at high altitudes. India has Ladakhi, Tibetan and other highlander soldiers in its infantry who have grown up in the region, while China has no such luxury as its authoritarian regime is occupying Tibet and committing unspeakable atrocities in the region. Tibetans have the extra motivation to defeat the Chinese occupation and there’s no question of Tibetans joining the PLA troops.
Beijing can only one up the Indian army through a proxy war. It cannot take on it in the conventional battlefield or the mountain battlefield. The Indian troops are far too nimble, athletic and strong for China’s liking and that makes them one of the dangerous outfits across the planet.
It is indeed wonderful to see a fairly neutral and factual piece on the situation with China. As a soldier, I must share that over a period of several decades, the entire Indian Army has served in the most inhospitable terrain geographies and under extreme conditions and also under fire. I doubt if there are more battle more battle hardened soldiers anywhere on the globe. The Chinese have usually believed in superior numbers and conscription. Having said this, we, as a nation must continue to build resilience, build capabilities and most importantly stay focused and united, while rooting out divisive and inimical forces from within – they are our real enemy!