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Concentrating Forces and Audacious Action: PLA Lessons from the Sino-Indian War

CardSharp

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Is the PLA intended to use those bullpup rifles at the Indo-Tibetan border or do they have other plans?
All PLA combat units are now fitted with the Type-95 bullpup. Some are in service with second line troops and this may include the Chinese border force, which does the patrol on the border. Otherwise they would be armed with the Type-81.

Let's stay on topic though. The Chinese-Vietnamese border war of 1979 and the subsequent skirmishes.
 

lemurian

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Staying on topic, I would be interested in knowing more about the mountain warfare capabilities of the PLA. History is replete with examples of armies using the terrain to their advantage. Like the Finns in the winter war, a smaller adversary can bleed a materially superior adversary.
 

CardSharp

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Staying on topic, I would be interested in knowing more about the mountain warfare capabilities of the PLA. History is replete with examples of armies using the terrain to their advantage. Like the Finns in the winter war, a smaller adversary can bleed a materially superior adversary.
Look no further than this thread. We talk extensively about how the PLA used terrain and mountain passes to take the Indian position end on. I'll give a more complete explanation later if you don't have patience to sift through the posts.
 

CardSharp

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Here's Joe's explaination


In contrast to the frozen desert of the west, in the east, other than the broad swathe of the Brahmaputra Valley, and other tributary rivers, all the terrain consists of steep hills climbing to high hills, but not to mountains, not within the theatre (there are mountains to the north-west of the scenes of action, on the Bhutan-Tibet border, also on the Sikkim-Tibet border, and further west). We can see from the very beautiful photographs from Khullar's book what this dispupted country looked like. Further, we can combine the information about the Bailey Trail with the sketch map shown in the propaganda video on YouTube.

Having said that, please note that there were Alpine meadows at points in the east as well. There are photographs showing these.

Please connect the point midway between the international border as indicated and the road leading upwards to Tawang, thereafter forking to Le inside Tibet and to Bum La on the border (just go along with me on these descriptions; it will make the narrative unbearably long-winded to achieve political correctness at all points, at all times). On this road, the Bailey Trail debouches about midway between Bomdi La and Dirrang on the map.

Now consider the YouTube schematics, showing three Indian brigades lined up one after the other on the road. The description on YouTube and this map tie up in this manner. There was no head-on attack; rather, the PLA troops infiltrated into a flanking position, ready to ambush the Indian Army units in movement, and their attack, when it came, was wholly unexpected and led to disaster.

Sometime in the late 50s, two generals of the Indian Army fought a war game simulating a mysterious and unnamed Red Force (aha!) against a Blue Force. Three times, Red Force was led by a gunner, who was a POW during WWII, a brigade commander at that time, and went on to be the COAS later. He was a member of a noted family which also contributed a minister (two, counting the next generation) and a chairman of a major coal mining company. On each of the three occasions, Red Force attacked using the Bailey Trail or a parallel path, close to the Bhutan border. Three times, this general, General K, won.

The Indian Army knew that these positions were not defensible.
http://www.defence.pk/forums/india-...la-lessons-sino-indian-war-5.html#post1160375


My paltry summation in response to joe.
I think I am starting to understand the situation as you described it. You're emphasis on enfilading was on the brigade scale, where because the Indian brigades were strung out facing from one side of the road to the other, the PLA was able to attack them end on via the open flank created by the 7th brigades collapse and the sneak attack through the Bailey trail.
*note on the map the Indian brigades were strung out on the road from Tawang to Bomdila, and the PLA attack the road down its length from the west to east.

The PLA had good experience from Korea's hilly terrain. They learned to use hills as cover and concealment, moving on the low ground at night using several separate attack elements to converge on a single position.
 

lemurian

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Look no further than this thread. We talk extensively about how the PLA used terrain and mountain passes to take the Indian position end on. I'll give a more complete explanation later if you don't have patience to sift through the posts.
Well sure (at the cost of going off-topic), but the nature of warfare has changed. For example, the OBL raid emphasized the importance of superior intelligence and well trained special forces units. How is the PLA adapting to this new environment, where brute force doesn't matter as much as speed and intelligence? At any rate i would be watching this thread closely. Thanks:tup:
 

CardSharp

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The PLA also supposedly (according to an American historian) used a trail name the "bailey trial" that lead to the Bomdila road to cut off the Indian retreat after the main attack along the axis of the road started.

Well sure (at the cost of going off-topic), but the nature of warfare has changed. For example, the OBL raid emphasized the importance of superior intelligence and well trained special forces units. How is the PLA adapting to this new environment, where brute force doesn't matter as much as speed and intelligence? At any rate i would be watching this thread closely. Thanks:tup:
That's a whole different kettle of fish I think. No connection between how the PLA did thing back then and how it might do special operations raids now (which the OBL mission was) .
 

lemurian

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The PLA also supposedly (according to an American historian) used a trail name the "bailey trial" that lead to the Bomdila road to cut off the Indian retreat after the main attack along the axis of the road started.



That's a whole different kettle of fish I think. No connection between how the PLA did thing back then and how it might do special operations raids now (which the OBL mission was) .
No, but OBL sent a message. Not just the special forces aspect of it. After all what the OBL raid accomplished was the "real" objective- hunting down a man responsible for 9/11. Despite the Aircraft carriers, the cruise missiles, F-22s, Aegis cruisers, what really mattered? Anyway, I apologize for carrying this discussion off-topic.
 

lemurian

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The Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)


Book Review: China- Military Modernisation and Strategy
Claude Arpi
E-Mail- .

A new book on China, more particularly on the People’s Liberation Army is always welcome—more so, when it is well researched like China—Military Modernisation and Strategy authored by Dr. Monika Chansoria (KW Publishers, New Delhi).
One still remembers that some years ago, George Fernandes, the then Defence Minister was fired at short range by his own NDA government for having dared to affirm that China is India's No 1 enemy (and not Pakistan). Since then, the mindset in the Indian establishment has changed, mainly and paradoxically thanks to the tremendous progress made by the Chinese PLA in developing the military infrastructure in Tibet.

In the last 10 years, the perception of the Chinese Dragon in India has taken if not a U-turn, at least a sharp bend. For example, in 2009 the Ministry of Defence sanctioned two new divisions to strengthen the Indian borders in Arunachal. This change of mind is due to the stubbornness of Beijing’s leadership who continues to claim the North-Eastern State as South Tibet. More recently, information has circulated that a new mountain strike corps, (40,000 more troops) may be permanently located in northeast India to retaliate against any Chinese offensive. Ajai Shukla wrote in The Business Standard: “For decades after India’s humiliation at the hands of China in 1962, New Delhi shrank from a robust defence posture on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control, fearing it might provoke China. In the aftermath of 1962, through the 1960s and 1970s, the Indian Army stayed away from the border, remaining behind a self-imposed ‘Limit of Patrolling’. In the 1980s, the army returned to the LAC, but remained entirely defensive in outlook. The sanctioning of a strike corps, therefore, signals a dramatic new assertiveness in New Delhi.”

This is in response to the constant PLA nagging, whether on the Ladakh front or in Arunachal. The latest example: some Chinese soldiers damaged a wall erected by the Indian troops near the border, north of Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh). The incident was termed "as the most important one along the Sino-Indian border this summer." Indian troops eventually repaired the 200 metre long wind-breaker wall and lodged a complaint with the local Chinese military commander. This type of relatively minor incident will only repeat itself and eventually escalate, if India does not show that its defence forces are ready for any eventuality.

This incident and hundreds of others explain why we should know more about China, its armed forces, its concept of war and planned strategy. The lack of knowledge about China is probably the greatest tragedy of a modern India, obsessed with Pakistan. Too few scholars and think tanks have tried to understand the mindset and military culture of the Middle Kingdom. Dr. Chansoria should therefore be complimented for her thorough research.

Predating the 1950s, when the country plunged into the folly of the Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai policy and swore by non-violence as the Supreme Truth. The only China advisor of Jawaharlal Nehru was dreadful KM Pannikar who could only kowtow the Communist regime. The consequences were seen in October 1962; India has still not fully recovered psychologically from the trauma.

Chansoria begins her study by exploring the history of China's People's Liberation Army, “a journey of resolute struggle and grit directed towards triumph” and then follows the PLA “from a small Chinese Communist Party organ to a guerrilla force, comprising workers and peasants, to the PLA of today which has transformed into a tri-Service military force.” Later the PLA went through several phases to finally become a regular military force.

Chansoria reminds us of The Art of War written by Sun Tzu more than 2,000 years back: "War is a matter of vital importance to the State. It is mandatory that it be studied thoroughly;" (it is rarely done in India) or "For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill; to subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill;" or other principles such as:

• war is based on deception
• win through unexpected moves
• gain victory by varying one's strategy and tactics according to the
enemy's situation
• use the soft and gentle to overcome the hard and strong
• stay clear of the enemy's main force and strike at his weak point
• make the devious route the most direct
• fight back and gain the upper hand only after the enemy has initiated fighting
• make a feint to the east but attack in the west

Though the times have changed and the CCP is going through constant RMA, these basic principles of war remain (whether or not they are explicitly mentioned or not in the White Papers on Defence regularly published by the Chinese government). One word constantly appears in all the books on the PLA: ‘modernization’. It seems that it has been the leitmotiv of the CCP Central Military Commission especially after the return of Deng Xiaoping in 1978/79. In the last White Paper issued on March 21, 2011 by the State Council, an entire chapter is consecrated to ‘modernization’.

Chansoria extensively explores the principles of ‘active defence’, as well as ‘local wars under conditions of 'informationisation', both parts of the RMA. Chansoria and earlier Bajwa have done a good job in showing these components of the ‘peaceful rise of China’. One can regret that the lessons of the 1962 War with India have not been more detailed. Because there is always a gap between the theoretical strategy published in specialized websites or publications and the actual facts of an armed conflict. A small detail (details are often telling for China watchers): when in July Vice-President Xi Jinping visited Bayi in Nyingtri Prefecture, north of Arunachal, General Chen Bingde, PLA Chief of General Staff did not accompany Xi. He headed, with some other members of the Beijing delegation, for Ngari (Western Tibet). Bayi is a special place: it is a town run by the PLA, north of McMahon Line; ‘Bayi’ means 'Eight-one" or 'August 1' and refers to the anniversary of the Nanchang Uprising, considered to be the founding date of the People's Liberation Army. It is today one of the two main PLA bases in Tibet. Xi Jinping, the future President of China (and future Chairman of the CMC) probably did not want to alarm India, by taking the Chief of Staff of the PLA with him. Sun Tzu would have probably agreed, “No use to worry the opponent in advance”.

Claude Arpi is a French-born author and historian with expertise on Tibet, China and Indo-French relations. The author of numerous books, Arpi is also the director of the Tibetan Pavilion of Auroville, inaugurated by the 14th Dalai Lama.
 

OrionHunter

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Look mate, these events get blown out of portion way too often. Two of them were platoon strength patrols who bumped into each because of the ill-defined LAC. the last one was a stand off with both sides mobilizing then demobilizing, when things were settled politically.
I'm not referring to the size of infantry platoon skirmishes at Nathula/Chola. It was the Indian artillery that played havoc with the Chinese there, destroying com centers, MMG bunkers and counter mortar fire that destroyed many Chinese gun positions. The Indian Army had the advantage as all the dominating peaks were in their hands from where artillery observation posts were able to direct fire with pin point accuracy. According to estimates there were more than 400 casualties on the Chinese side and destruction of most bunkers within 2km. 150 Indian soldiers were also martyred. Due to unacceptable number of casualties, the Chinese asked for a ceasefire.

You're right when you say that there was no skirmish at Sumdrongchu Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. But the Chinese were given an ultimatum to withdraw from encroached areas failing which 1967 would be repeated. The Chinese then withdrew.
I think the reason why airforces weren't used on either side was because neither side had good basing around the area of battle and that terrain + fast resolution of battle + Chinese side using night attack made CAS useless. I really doubt that air power would have crippled the PLA in 1962
As regards CAS in the 1962 conflict, you are right when you say that the terrain did not permit effective air support. But Indian Canberra bombers could have destroyed the tenuous lines of communications including roads and bridges in the initial stages of the Chinese advance thus effectively cutting off logistic and artillery support which could have halted the Chinese to some degree. (This should not be confused with the superb cross country outflanking manoeuvers by the Chinese infantry which hit the Indian units from the flanks and rear which caught the latter by surprise).

The failure of logistics support was the turning point in the war that happened during the final stages when Chinese troops ran out of supplies including ammo due to the tremendously extended supply lines. As Maxwell mentioned in his book, the Chinese were down to eating 'grass and weeds' which was the main reason for the Chinese withdrawal.

The Indian government had dithered as usual and refused to give the go-ahead for employment of air power for fear of escalating the conflict. This was the dumbest decision the ball-less Indian government made at that time. India has learnt its lessons and hopefully such mistakes will never be repeated. Kargil is an example where air power was used to good effect.

Cheers!
 

Joe Shearer

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I would be grateful if military minded Indian commenters stopped this vulgarity of referring to politicians' balls on every occasion that they find, appropriate or otherwise. This is totally devoid of any decency or restraint in discussion.

Is it your opinion that all Indian politicians are in this state? All the time? All governments? Even if a single one is, the startling distinction between the Pakistani and Chinese systems and the Indian system is that we have a functioning political system, they don't. What is it that makes you so ****-sure that nothing about the Indian system works, or worked? Would you really like our country to be like Pakistan? or like China?

Give me a break!
 

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