Calling the talk of war in the Chinese media as posturing, senior defence and strategic experts believe that India and China may not go for a full-scale war, but skirmishes cannot be ruled out.
The heights of the Doklam Plateau are occupied by the tents with both the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army soldiers digging in their heels to not clear off the area. The issues at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan elevating into a standoff, media reports constantly focussing on the words of war between the two countries have been coming.
The Chinese state-backed 'Global Times' wrote, "If India stirs up conflicts in several spots, it must face the consequences of an allout confrontation with China along the entire LAC."
Analysing the current situation defence and strategic experts consider it as posturing by China which may not lead to a full fledged war, but ingress by the Chinese Army in areas which they find vulnerable cannot be ruled out.
Major General D.K. Mehta (Retd.) said the situation created by the Chinese PLA at the Doklam plateau is a part of psychological operation to pressurise India. Talking of the war scenario, Major General Mehta said it to be highly impossible as both nations have mature methods to handle matters. General Mehta considers if war takes place, then the advantage will lie with India due to its lower heights. In mountain warfare, the ratio to win the war is said to be 1:9, for one soldier, the enemy will have to field nine soldiers to overwhelm the attack.
Yes, the Chinese can mobilise troops, add force for which the signature would be available as we now have a reasonably good all-weather systems in terms of satellite and the other surveillance capabilities. I am sure a very close watch would be on by us.
While a war is ruled out, transgression can be the other method employed by China to pressurise India.
Major General B.K. Sharma cautions that the Chinese may create other trouble spots in order to compel India to withdraw from Doklam. Major General Sharma, Heading the Centre for Strategic Studies and Simulation (CS3) of the United Services Institution says that we should be ready for fabricated ingress in other regions by the Chinese as then they will start the policy of quid-pro-quo. He also sees no possibility of a full-blown war.
Reinforcing the analysis of the Generals, sources, well aware with the Chinese border informed ANI that there have not been any significant movement of military forces in the Tibetan region in the last two months. He also added that for India the tipping point will be when there's a significant troop movement across the 11 bridges that join the northern parts of the 1,100 kilometers of Tsangpo with the southern part of Tibet. Line of Actual Control (LAC) is of 3,488 km long.
China has deployed about 15-16 divisions along the Line of Actual Control starting from the Karakoram Pass up to the Arunachal Pradesh (LAC 3,488 km). This entire area comes under the Western Theatre Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. In case of the war, China can also move four to five divisions, which are stationed in the Xinjiang province, in the north of the Jammu and Kashmir, to cover the Ladakh sector.
But, no unusual movement by the Chinese at the LAC since last two months. Talking to ANI, they explained it as Chinese tactics to pressurise India. Coming to the military infrastructure in Tibet, China has five operational air fields.
In addition, there are four-five landing strips, which may not be able to hold operations due to the lack of operational capabilities.
In order to increase the weight-carrying capacity of the fighter aircrafts, which comes down due to the heights Tibet being a plateau, the length of the runways of the air bases have been increased in the recent times. Also, the Second Artillery is deployed in the region and also the Chinese have developed a capability to move the troops swiftly by deploying their mechanised regiments, which are equal to the size of the Indian Brigades.
Both, India and China, have been taking measures to strengthen the infrastructure and the military presence along the borders. Since 2009 china is doing an annual division level movement, supply and logistics exercise. The exercise continues in Tibet to mobilise the infrastructure. It is a transregional support operation. India is busy constructive strategic roads and is raising an independent mountain strike corps.
Hardening the stance as adopted by the Chinese also is seen as face saving exercise so that the plan of the Chinese President Xi Jinping of placing his loyals into the Central Committee, a seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) and 25-member Politburo (PB) goes through. In all this, the PLA cannot be seen backing off.
Bharat Karnad, Research Professor at the Centre for Policy Research, considers the stance of the Chinese approach into the bluff and bluster mode.
"The Chinese believe that India may be deterred and intimidated by their rhetoric, provocative actions and will withdraw from Doklam Plateau. It is not going to happen."
Analysing the border positions in military terms, he added that the Chinese cannot do much. India has enough troops in both the Eastern and the Northern sectors facing China. The Central Sector is virtually impassable for both sides; high passes will make it difficult for big build-ups. He is also of the opinion that China will not go nuclear as then India has also enough leeway to even it out.
Professor Karnad believes that India has handled the Doklam standoff well and is playing it cool. There is nothing to worry about, not that Chinese do not have their military, as India has sufficient forces and prepositioned supplies to ward off any Chinese threat, Former Army Chief General Bikram Singh sees the Doklam as the potential escalation.
He says, "The faceoff at Doklam, given the hardened stance of both sides, has the potential to escalate tensions between the two regional powers. Since hostilities will be detrimental to the long terms interests of both sides, it is imperative that the tensions are diffused through dialogue."
He further says that it is equally important that the media continues to exercise maturity and balance in reporting on this incident. It is equally important that both sides scrupulously refrain from Jingoism and muscle flexing.