Hello defence lovers! Almost a year ago we published two articles that compared the Chinese Army against the Indian army and PLAAF against IAF. In those articles, we tried to analyse the actual situation beyond numbers. Since then many things have changed and the capabilities of the Indian armed forces have changed a lot. In the series of articles, we are going to analyse what would be the scenario if war breaks out today. In this hypothetical war, we will consider all the aspects.
In today’s world, all countries are interconnected with each other. unlike the second world war era, powerful nations cannot afford a war with each other as they are interdependent on each other due to globalization. No country is self-sufficient completely and it fulfills the deficiencies through trade with other nations. In that case, all countries try to avert large-scale conflict with each other. The same applies to China and India. However, the insanity of the Communist Party dictators like Xi Jinping is unpredictable.
So let us first discuss the scenarios which can lead to a full-blown conflict with China. The first possibility is that Chinese leaders go insane and invade Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh. As per China’s Five finger philosophy, Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh belong to Tibet. Since China annexed Tibet, it believes it owns these two territories. Thus Chinese Invasion of either region can start a full-scale war. Thus we can analyse this situation for our hypothetical war.
The next possibility is that during standoffs like the current Ladakh Standoff, small skirmishes like the Galwan valley incident turn into a small-scale fights. Again the Insanity of the Chinese leaders cannot be predicted. It might lead to full-scale war.
The third possibility is highly unlikely but since we are considering all possibilities we must consider this one too. Suppose India annexes the POK. Annexation of POK would be a huge setback for China due to its heavy investments in the CPEC. In that scenario, China will either negotiate with India or will take military action.
So now let us discuss what would happen if a hypothetical war breaks out between India and China. In this article, we will on focus on land engagements and thus only on the army. We will cover the aerial and naval engagements in the next articles in the series.
Land Based Engagements
According to the global firepower index, China has the largest army on earth consisting of 2,185,000 active personnel and 510,000 reserve personnel. India is not much behind. India has the second-largest army on earth consisting of 1,237,117 active personnel and 960,000 reserve personnel. One should note that the majority of Chinese soldiers are conscripts and not professionals. According to Chinese law, all citizens must register themselves after the age of 18 years. Although China calls it volunteered conscription, for most of the conscripts there is no other option but to join the PLA. Unlike China, every Indian Soldier has to earn his/her uniform and the soldiers wear it with immense pride.
Neigbours And Land Disputes
Now China has a vast border to protect. And thanks to its aggressive foreign policy and hunger for the land of neighbouring countries, China has land disputes with all its neighbours. It even has disputes with those countries with whom it does not share any border. Compared to China, India has a comparatively much smaller border to protect. India also shares very friendly relations with Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal and their respective militaries. Thus in our hypothetical war, India can deploy a large number of soldiers compared to China as China cannot leave other borders off guard.
Conflict zones will be very limited in our hypothetical war as most of the Actual Line of Control is protected with the natural barriers – Himalayas. All the conflict zones will be mountainous terrain. Thus Indian army will have superiority since no other army in the world is as experienced as the Indian army when we talk about mountain warfare and high altitude warfare. The movement of the troops is only possible through certain passes. These passes can easily be chocked by a few soldiers and equipment. Heavy tanks won’t be used in such conflicts as using these on such high altitudes and difficult terrain is not feasible. Medium and light tanks will be used in areas such as Ladakh Here ATGMs such as Javelin would be very useful due to non-line of sight engagement. These ATGMs can attack tanks from top, from where they are most vulnerable.
The Indian army’s mountain strike corps will play a crucial role in the conflict. India needs to ensure the strategic deployment of this unit.
Thus having a numerical superiority won’t give China any advantage in the conflict. The side with effective deployment at strategic areas will have an edge over the other.
Acclimatization is the most important factor. During the entire Ladakh standoff, China has rotated almost 90 percent of its troops due to their inability to adapt to the harsh climate. More Chinese soldiers have succumbed to the climate as compared to the enemy. However, on the Indian side, the scenario is completely different. The soldiers finishing their deployment on the world’s highest battleground Siachen are deployed on the LAC. Moreover, acclimatization is not a problem for the Indian army as the soldiers are trained in the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS).
The acclimatization limits both the side from bringing in more troops during later stages of the war. Regular soldiers who will be directly mobilized from the plains cannot fight effectively at high altitudes as the lack of oxygen in the air affects the performance of the soldier. Thus the side whose soldiers are more resilient to the harsh climate will be able to hold the ground for a longer duration.
Considering the above-mentioned points we can say the Indian army will be the dominating force in our Hypothetical war. However various other factors will affect this conflict which we will discuss in the upcoming articles. The Chinese Army has very well understood these points after the Galwan valley incident and during the Ladakh Standoff. Thus hopefully this hypothetical war will never become a reality, but if it does, there is no doubt that the Indian Army will be victorious.