Experts explain India’s 'military options' against China

General Bipin Rawat told the press that India has military options if talks with China don't pan outBCCL
  • General Bipin Rawat asserted that India has ‘military options’ at its disposal in case talks between India and China don’t ease tension along their shared border in Ladakh.
  • Brigadier Anil Gupta with the Indian Army told Business Insider that military options can include everything from quid pro quo to full-fledged war.
  • International securities expert Sameer Patil with Gateway House believes that even though the scale for escalation is wide, India is likely to hit back with an all-out military retaliation.
  • With tensions at a stalemate in on the ground Ladakh, Gupta believes that if India retaliates it will be by way of air or sea.
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If talks with China fail, General Bipin Rawat believes that India has ‘military options’ at its disposal that it can exercise. However, experts don’t think that it will be along the existing hotspots between India and China in Ladakh.


“Military options are not theatre specific. Generally, you don’t use the option where the point of conflict is,” said Brigadier Anil Gupta, who is currently based out of Jammu, told Business Insider. According to him, the government’s directions to the army will depend on the level of escalation they wish to instigate.


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On the surface ‘military options’ include everything from quid pro quo to an all-out war. It can be carried out using the entire armed forces from the Indian Army to the Indian Air Force (IAF), or the Indian Navy.

“My best guess is that it won’t be an all-out military retaliation. It would be somewhat for limited action in the places where the Chinese forces are vulnerable,” said international securities expert Sameer Patil with Mumbai-based think tank Gateway House.

Military options get more difficult to exercise over time
Military options were always at India’s disposal — from the initial Chinese incursions in May to the Galwan incident and even today. “The more you delay, the more difficult your options become,” said Gupta.

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According to him, the current points of inflexion along the India-China border will become the front to hold as the actual engagement occurs elsewhere — mostly likely in the arena of air and sea where China may not have the advantage. The end-game being to shift the centre of gravity of the operations.

“We obviously want to score points where the Chinese positions are vulnerable, we don’t want to venture into places where they are at an advantage,” said Patil.


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The situation between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) continues to remain tense. Despite at least five rounds of talks at Lieutenant-General levels, disengagement and de-escalation look unlikely with both sides getting ready to settle in for the winter.

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