India redirects 50,000 additional forces personnel to its border with China, 40% troop increase from last year

India has redirected at least 50,000 additional armed forces personnel to its border with China, international media reported.

On June 15 last year, Ladakh’s Galwan Valley witnessed a violent clash between the Armies of India and China. The clash, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, was one of the worst in 45 years, and led to a military standoff with China and at least 11 rounds of military talks for the disengagement process.

Over the past few months, India has moved armed forces and fighter jet squadrons to three distinct areas along its border with China, international news agency Bloomberg quoted four people familiar with the matter, as saying.

All in all, India now has roughly 200,000 forces personnel focused on the border, the news agency quoted two of them as saying, which is an increase of more than 40 percent from last year.

Whereas previously India’s military presence was aimed at blocking Chinese moves, the redeployment will allow Indian commanders more options to attack and seize territory in China if necessary in a strategy known as “offensive defense,” one of the people told the news agency. That includes a lighter footprint involving more helicopters to airlift forces personnel from valley to valley along with artillery pieces like the M777 howitzer built by BAE Systems Inc.

While it’s unclear how many troops China has on the border, India detected that the People’s Liberation Army recently moved additional forces from Tibet to the Xinjiang Military Command, which is responsible for patrolling disputed areas along the Himalayas, the report said.

China is adding fresh runway buildings, bomb-proof bunkers to house fighter jets and new airfields along the disputed border in Tibet, the report quoted two of the people as saying. Beijing also adding long-range artillery, tanks, rocket regiments, and twin-engine fighters in the last few months, the report quoted them as saying.

China’s Foreign Ministry “will not comment on unsubstantiated information,” a spokesperson said in response to questions, the report said.

The fear now is that a miscalculation could lead to an even deadlier conflict. Several recent rounds of military-diplomatic talks with China have made minimal progress toward a return to the quiet status quo that had prevailed along the border for decades.

“Having so many soldiers on either side is risky when border management protocols have broken down,” the report quoted D S Hooda, a lieutenant general and former Northern Army commander in India, as having said. “Both sides are likely to patrol the disputed border aggressively. A small local incident could spiral out of control with unintended consequences.”


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