September 12, 2019
   Posted in News From Other Sites
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Rajat Pandit, Times of India. Read the article here.

An Indian Army soldier stands guard. (Picture for representation only.)

NEW DELHI: Border tensions between India and China flared up yet again on Wednesday with a prolonged confrontation between the rival troops in eastern Ladakh, even as the Indian Army gets all set to hold a major war game to test its new integrated battle groups (IBGs) in Arunachal Pradesh next month.
Sources said the face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers began on the northern bank of the 134-km-long Pangong Tso (Tso means lake), two-thirds of which is controlled by China as it extends from Tibet to Ladakh, soon after dawn on Wednesday.
“Indian soldiers were on a patrol when they were confronted by People’s Liberation Army soldiers, who strongly objected to their presence in the area. This led to a scuffle between the rival soldiers, with both sides sending some reinforcements to the area… the face-off was in progress at the site till the evening,” said a source.
The Army, on being contacted by TOI, only said that delegation-level talks led by brigadier-rank officers “had been sought and agreed to by the two sides” as per the established bilateral mechanism to defuse tensions. “Such incidents often take place due to differing perceptions of where the Line of Actual Control (LAC) actually lies … they are usually resolved through border personnel meetings, flag meetings and the like,” said an officer.
The disputed “Finger-5 to Finger-8” (mountainous spurs) area on the north bank of Pangong Tso, incidentally, had witnessed a violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers, with stones and iron rods being used to injure each other, on August 15, 2017.
The incident had coincided with the then much more serious troop face-off at the Bhutanese territory of Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction that year. Though the two armies had disengaged from the face-off site at Doklam after a 73-day confrontation, the fallout has been that the PLA has constructed military infrastructure and helipads as well as permanently stationed troops in north Doklam, as was earlier reported by TOI.
Interestingly, the Indian Army will be holding its “Him Vijay” exercise in Arunachal Pradesh at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit India for the second informal summit with PM Narendra Modi. The first summit at Wuhan in April 2018, in the aftermath of the Doklam face-off, had led to “strategic guidance” to the two militaries to manage and defuse troop confrontations during patrolling in accordance with existing protocols and mechanisms.
Sources said China has not been informed of the “Him Vijay” exercise because it will not be held close to the border in Arunachal Pradesh. It will witness around 15,000 soldiers in three IBGs, carved out of the 17 Mountain Strike Corps, being tested for mountain warfare in terms of operational viability and logistics. The IAF, in turn, will deploy C-17s, C-130Js, and AN-32 aircraft as well as helicopters for airlift of soldiers and equipment as well as inter-valley transfer.

The Army is raising the new IBGs, with a potent mix of infantry, tanks, artillery, air defence, signals, and engineers, to ensure they can mobilise fast and strike hard across the borders with Pakistan and China. The IBGs for the western front have already been “test-bedded and exercised” in war games in April-May in the plains of Jammu, Punjab, and Rajasthan as part of the Army’s overall plan to reformat its entire war-fighting machinery and sharpen the “cold start” doctrine, as was reported by TOI earlier.
The IBGs bring together all fighting arms and support units into self-contained units even during peacetime to ensure much faster mobilisation for cross-border strikes. “The existing structures, under which the different elements largely marry up only during actual combat, are outdated. The IBGs are being fine-tuned through such exercises,” said an officer.


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