Whereas the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) propaganda machinery reported frying of Indian troops by futuristic energy weapons on 29 August in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army has dug into Chinese warfare manuals and deployed “tunnel defences” to pre-empt any further transgressions by the enemy.
On 29-30 August, the Indian Army troops, along with Special Frontier Force (SFF), occupied positions on the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) south of Pangong Tso lake on the Kailash Range ridgeline for the first time since 1962. Indian Army has already dismissed the Chinese energy weapon report as “fake news”.
The Chinese had successfully used tunnel defences against Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Vietcong used the same tactics at against Americans in the guerrilla war. North Koreans adopted it in the Korean War in the 1960s.
The Chinese army has built tunnel shelters to house aircraft at the Lhasa air base and underground pens to house nuclear ballistic missile submarines in Hainan Islands in South China Sea.
Senior military commanders say that the Indian Army has deployed large-diameter Hume-reinforced concrete pipes in dug-in tunnels to shelter the troops from enemy attack and surprise the adversary in the worst-case scenario.
The reinforced concrete pipes have a diameter of six to eight feet, which allows troops to easily move underground from one location to other without being exposed to enemy fire. The other benefit of tunnels is that they can be heated to shelter the troops from polar temperatures and snow blizzards.
While the ninth round of India-China military dialogue to disengage and de-escalate from the friction points is expected to take place soon, the Indian Army has settled down to defend the LoAC from any further transgression by the Chinese army. The Indian security planners are quite clear that the restoration of status quo ante has to begin with the Chinese army, which started the entire build-up by transgressing on the north banks of Pangong Tso early May 2020. The PLA then followed the Pangong Tso aggression by making similar moves in Galwan river valley and Gogra-Hot Springs area near Kongka La.
The Indian Army is not only defending the Ladakh LoAC but also keeping a close watch on PLA moves in Central, Sikkim and Eastern sectors with the Chinese army continuing to build military infrastructure in Tibet.
The Indian diplomacy is in no hurry to negotiate an early withdrawal of PLA from east Ladakh and believes that restoration of status quo ante is the only just solution even if it takes a long time. “The Chinese army always likes a staring match, waiting for adversary to blink. But this aggressive tactic will not succeed with India,” said a senior official.