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India sits on Black Top with Helmet under its boots. A 1962 tactics by China is now likely

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Shorn of deception, disinformation and rhetoric, on the intervening night of 29 and 30 August, our armed forces launched a tactical operation with strategic import: to secure the Kailash Range opposite the Chushul Bowel. This was the long-awaited riposte to the People’s Liberation Army’s preemptive operations violating the Line of Actual Control in Depsang, Galwan, Hot Springs-Gogra-Kugrang and north bank of Pangong Tso in May 2020.

Officially, the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Defence, released a signed statement by the Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand at 10:35 am on 31 August: “On the Night of 29/30 August 2020, PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo. Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground.”

Be that as it may, with this operation, for the first time in the past four months, the armed forces seized the initiative and put the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on the defensive, partially neutralising the strategic advantage secured by it through its preemptive operations. I analyse the strategic and tactical importance of the operation and the likely military reaction of the PLA.

Also read: The truth of Galwan must come out, unlike the 1965 battle with Pakistan in Khemkaran

Our armed force have secured all tactical heights on the Kailash Range from south bank of Pangong Tso to Tsaka La that include Helmet, Black Top, Gurung Hill, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Rechin La. All these areas are on the Indian side of the LAC and were sites of intense battles in China-India War of October-November 1962. China also recognises the alignment of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in these areas, except in the area of Black Top, which it claims is east of its claim line.

Since China harks back to its 1959 claim line and, at will, moves into un-held areas, the 1993 agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility and the subsequent agreements, have lost their sanctity. Now, the principle of ‘finders are keepers’ currently prevails, though the facade of LAC is still being maintained for keeping diplomatic lines open (see Map 1).

We had not held these areas since 1962 because the LAC passes over the crest and we did not want to create a situation for a confrontation like it happens on the Line of Actual Control. As the crow flies, this frontage is approximately 30 km.

I assess and presume that south east of Rechin La and north of Indus River, we have selectively secured tactical features on the Kailash Range along the LAC/International Border (IB) up to north of Dumchele, a frontage of 45 km. This is a very difficult terrain, but given our mountaineering experience, it is doable. The Kailash Range from Chang La to Jara La, a frontage of 40 km, was captured by the........

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