The China Challenge: When Military Adversaries Become Friends

New Delhi: For nearly two weeks, the Armies of India and China, nations which frequently face off against one another along the disputed Line of Actual Control, have been working together, as friends.

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It is called Hand-in-Hand 2015, the fifth joint exercise between the two countries, held this year at the Kunming Military Academy in the Yunnan Province. These are exercises which feature soldiers from both countries training to fight insurgents, a somewhat strange irony since there have been reports of China arming insurgent groups in India’s Northeast.

Indian and Chinese soldiers fire automatic rifles together in a joint exercise
Nonetheless, in Kunming, it is all camaraderie as mixed formations of Indian soldiers fire their automatic rifles, lob grenades and stormed buildings to ‘take out’ imaginary terrorist threats. Both sides have also tried to overcome language problems to work together in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) training Operations.

Soldiers of both nations teamed together to take out imaginary terrorists in drills The spirit of friendship that has defined the 12-day ‘Hand-in-Hand’ exercises which end tomorrow are a marked contrast from the Naval exercises held southeast of Chennai between Thursday last week and this Monday.

The Malabar Exercises were the most complex naval engagement ever between India, the US and Japan.  The Malabar Exercises this year featured not just the United States and India but also Japan. All three countries have a range of concerns on China’s naval expansionism. Japan and China are locked in a dispute over the uninhabited Senkaku islands in the Pacific. In the South China Seas, China has been constructing artificial islands and claiming areas as its own, a dispute that pits Beijing against the United States and a host of Southeast Asian Nations. India, for its part, is worried about the increasing presence of Chinese nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean.

Without directly referring to the larger concern over China, Rear Admiral Roy Kelley, the US Carrier Strike Group Commander participating in the exercises, has told NDTV, “You look at Indo-Asia Pacific area, (it is a) huge expanse, (a) huge amount of commerce flows through here. India, especially, it’s expanding Navy, is a big part of that. We make sure that the United States and India have a great relationship as our Navies work together which requires good cooperation and ensuring freedom of the seas.”

The Malabar exercises involved air defence, anti-submarine warfare, surface drills by warships of the three sides Beijing, however, has not been oblivious to what these exercises were all about. An article in the China Daily, a government mouth piece stated, “The US concept of Asia Pivot revolves around isolating China and creating a block of Regional and Extra Regional second tier powers to strategically suffocate China in the 21 century. These second tier powers include India, Australia and Japan.”

The Chinese concerns are also based, at least partly, on the inaugural US-India-Japan Ministerial meet in Washington in September where all sides “underscored the importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes; freedom of navigation and overflight; and unimpeded lawful commerce, including in the South China Sea.”

During ‘Hand-in-Hand’ exercises, not just with guns, Indian and Chinese soldiers also displayed their skills in martial arts.

For New Delhi, the Army exercises in Kunming are a pragmatic gesture at being friends with an old military adversary and while the exercises are excellent exposure for soldiers at the unit level, the larger concerns on China were played out at the same time nearly 3000 kilometres away.

10 Comments

  1. The most powerful empires and nations of the world always relied on the strength of their naval forces. This is true from the Greeks, the Romans, the British, and now the United States. India had neglected the expansion of the Navy and now India is trying to expand its Navy. The northern land border disputes with China and Pakistan caused this imbalance in spending between Indian Army and Indian Navy’s needs. It is high time that the Indian government wakes up and makes the Indian Navy a strong military unit much like the US Navy that can dominate the India Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. This would send a strong message to both China and Pakistan.

    • Mr. B. Dinesh,

      I agree with you to a certain extent and your point was valid in bygone days, but today to maintain military forces, countries have to strike the right balance between its Army, Navy and Air Force (and Marines in case of USA). These considerations can be arrived by: 1) its relations with its neighbour and security threat, 2) its imports and exports through sea-lanes, 3) its population, 4) per capita income, 5) whether it is self-reliant in manufacturing arms or depends on military purchases (which can be expensive and funds would have to be diverted from other much-needed expenses), 6) its territorial depths, 7) its long-term foreign policy and national and international commitments, and various other factors.

      For example, China does not require top-of-the-range and sophisticated arms, simply because it is a totalitarian regime (lacking human rights and freedom of expression, etc.) and can mobilize forces, due to its huge population, simply by press-ganging its military age population. The government is no way answerable to its people and a minor functionary can just give a press release saying that your sons have died for their fatherland and have some rock or granite monoliths sculpted and installed to honour the dead and these will stand as mute sentinels for time memorial.

      If you have read history, China’s military strategy in land warfare is to vanquish the enemy with a numerically superior force. If the opposing Army has deployed a platoon or two, then Chinese will overwhelm that force by attacking it with one or two companies or even a battalion. Similar tactics were also followed by erstwhile USSR and today’s Vladimir Putin’s Russia would not shy from using similar tactics. Human lives are used as cannon fodder by these countries. Due to human wave tactitcs, which is no way based on sound strategy, they may suffer heavy losses, but they do not care about it. Their mission is to defeat the opposing force by any means.

      In case of Israel, it is approx. 8,000 square miles and has a population over 8,000,000 people. They, today manufacture the best arms and also export it. As it is very small in area, with lack of military depth, their civilian leaders have adopted “offence” as their military doctrine and that is why it is not only existing today, but also prospering. They have and can afford to have the best arms. Due to their “offence” doctrine for survival, they won the 1967 war, when they destroyed the entire Egyptian Air Force that had highly modern fighters and bombers in the first 180′ of the war, in spite of being heavily outnumbered. Due to not adopting the “offence” strategy and allowing the Eygptians to attack, they had initial shocks and losses in the 1973 war, though ultimately they were able to push the Egyptians to the West Bank of Suez canal and surround the IIIrd Eyptian Army, which would have completely capitulated, if cease fire had not come to its rescue.

      The Israelis till 1967, would buy second-hand aircrafts, tanks, etc. or pick items from international scrap-yards and they would modify it by installing say, powerful engines, better guns and refurbishing it to suit their conditions.

      I will conclude this by writing the second write-up.

      • The Israelis till 1967, would buy second-hand aircrafts, tanks, etc. or pick items from international scrap-yards and they would modify it by installing say, powerful engines,… – Mr. Nelson

        “pick ITEMS from international scrap-yards”? “..modify it by installing, POWERFUL engines”? Ahem!

        In 1959 Bedek began manufacturing its first aircraft, a V-tailed twinjet trainer of French design, the Fouga Magister, locally called Tzukit (Monticola). The Tzukit became the Israeli Air Force principal trainer for 50 years. The IAI Tzukit was also used in the 1967 Six Day War by 147 Squadron as a close support aircraft, attacking targets on the Egyptian front during the first day of the war, when Israel’s more capable combat aircraft were deployed on Operation Focus against Arab air bases. They were then deployed against Jordanian forces, including armour, on the West Bank. The Magister proved effective at the close-support mission albeit with heavy casualties, with six being lost.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Aerospace_Industries
        ————————————————————————————–
        Anyway, Mr. Nelson – a quick one. According to you, is it possible to JUST fit in a V12 engine (say – delivering a whopping 600+ HP) on a .. say.. Tata Nano or SAY..a Renault Duster or SAY a Spark – WITHOUT COMPLETELY redesigning AND REBUILDING the ENTIRE CAR?

        Hint: Think about Torque, rpm, stability, maneuverability, power-to-weight ratio, tyre size, rigidity of outer shell + supporting base (chassis), braking force required etc…… the works…,, not JUST the 9 yards.. SAY.. some 18 or so! 🙂

        And then, if time & self-will permits – you just multiply the myriad problems of a ‘doctored’ car (as I have pointed out) to address the complexities of aerodynamics with your “second-hand aircrafts, tanks, etc. or pick items from international scrap-yards and they would modify it by installing say, powerful engines”.

        Well, the link above clearly shows that the Israelis had their flying stuff in place. Or WERE they trying to go on a 1 way mission to MARS? Or probably fly inter-stellar missions like our ANCIENT Indians did? (Ref: Deenanath Bhatra. AND I sent you the link earlier).

        And there you go. A mere ‘starter’ for you! Maybe we can chat again out here after you mull over stuff and revert. And oh, that is IF Rampa doesn’t

        Oh Rampa… please feel free to contribute something meaningful besides your usual SOP name-calling and self praising! I just hope that all pistons are firing and the fuel pump is in good nick! Ahem again. 🙂

  2. Till the end of the World War II, Great Britain had colonized the largest territory in the world, between one-third and two-third of the earth’s land and it was natural for her to have the world’s largest Navy then, 1) as it had to patrol the sea lanes to protect the Merchant Navy ships carrying its imports and exports. 2) protect its colonies from external aggression, keep her subjects under control and stamp out dissent, 3) transport troops and armaments to its far-flung colonies as a routine and in the event of emergencies, etc.

    After the World War II, it had to grant independence to virtually all its colonies and, therefore, it just could not afford to have a gigantic or large Navy, because it just could not afford it. I speculate in the days of glory, she had over 1,000 vessels of different types and tonnages.

    As per Wikipedia, the strength of the present day Royal Navy is 76 vessels, of which 19 are major vessels, a shadow of her glorious past, though it is still a highly potent and modern force. I remember that before the Falkland crisis, they had sent HMS Hermes to the scrap-yard, but Argentina’s Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri invaded and captured Falklands and Stanley islands. Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, had the HMS Hermes pulled back, got it immediately refurbished and this aircraft-carrier led the British Fleet to to victory during the crisis, when the Argentinian flag-ship, General Belgrano, the pride of their Navy then, was sunk. Argentinians suffered massive losses in that crisis. HMS Hermes has been purchased by India and re-named INS Viraat and is in service with the Indian Navy.

    Today, USA is the most modern and dominant world power and it became one, thanks to Japan, when her carrier-based aircrafts attacked Pearl Harbour on 07th December 1941. Sir Churchill had declared war on Germany on 01st September 1939, relying on manpower from her Indian Colony and hoping to drag USA on her side, as she had enormous resources to fight this war. However, USA was hesitant to take part, until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour and virtually destroyed her entire Pacific Fleet. Till then, Nazi Germany was conquering territories and over-running countries. Germany’s greatest folly was attacking Russia – a landmass of limitless distances and severe winters. Japan’s greatest folly was attacking the Pearl Harbour.

    Once USA entered the war, its armament industries and naval dockyards were running 24-hours shifts (manned mostly by women, because most men had been enlisted in the military) and when it came to ships, they were, at their peak, manufacturing, on an average, one vessel per day. It could have been as small as a tug or gun boat on one end of the scale or 80,000 odd tons aircraft-carrier having crew complement of 6,500 sailors at the other end of the scale.

    • Once USA entered the war, its armament industries and naval dockyards were running 24-hours shifts (manned mostly by women, because most men had been enlisted in the military) and when it came to ships, they were, at their peak, manufacturing, on an average, one vessel per day. It could have been as small as a tug or gun boat on one end of the scale or 80,000 odd tons aircraft-carrier having crew complement of 6,500 sailors at the other end of the scale. – Our DEFENSE expert (According to Africa’da KS Bhat)

      Hello sir’ji, – did you just say – “manned by women…., they were, at their peak, manufacturing, on an average, one vessel per day? Including 80,000 odd tons Aircraft carrier?

      Gasp! Smelling salts needed! Pronto! (Psst: Im referring to the 1 vessel/day, pl).

      Say, do you know what is ‘keel-laying’?

      Do you know the quantum of welding work involved in it? I don’t know if advanced NDT techniques were involved back then to certify the welds to the then prevailing stds. (but then, that is another topic/issue altogether).

      Do you know that EVEN a wartime vessel needs to be coated (painted)?

      And marine paints (3 or more coats – in excess of say a total of 2000 to even 3000 + microns (DFT) NEEDS to dry – a good coupla hours PER COAT and at LEAST 3 coats are needed! Lol.

      Bool ja – the ‘commissioning’. Wartime you see!

      And JUST forget about the ‘sea-trials’, THOSE days, will you?

      So JUST One (1) day per vessel? And you are throwing in a SIMPLE ‘tug’ or ‘gun-boat’ like it is our Baba Ramdeva’s knitted flying carpet and our Rampa’s Akhanda Bharatha?

      AND to add insult to ignorance, you EVEN add a 6.5k manned vessel – JUST 1 day? Hola, bro! Hello…JUST a ‘tuggy’ tows in huge vessels and needs to be SPECIALLY designed and built!

      Wake up, Nellu. I seriously suggest that you don’t take up our penny-USB.. I mean.. KSB at face value and get all buoyed-up. Stick to HR policies of ‘Hire and Fire’.

      Thanks, Mr. Defense expert! Your views were extremely entertaining to say the LEAST! 🙂

      • “Including 80,000 odd tons Aircraft carrier?” – Saudi-returned Joker

        Where did Nelson say ‘including’?? Read the last line in his post again. It says – ” It could have been as small ….or 80,000 odd…’. When are you going to learn how to read?

        • Where did Nelson say ‘including’?? Read the last line in his post again. It says – ” It could have been as small ….or 80,000 odd…’. When are you going to learn how to read? – Rampu

          Hahahaha. Joker’ji

          When the word “or” is used, isn’t it included? Jeez! Which do-shala did you learn your samskrutam from? 😉

  3. I am worried about association of any kind with the Chinese and wonder why India is having military exercises. As far as I am concerned, India should not allow any Chinese or their investments into the country. Why has India to rely on China and can it not sell its products and services elsewhere on this planet. Finally, Chinese products are substandard and health hazard too. There is a saying, “Rastey ka maal, sastey mein,” and this is very true of products manufactured by Chinese companies. Their factories and assembly lines are just sweat shops and their workers work mechanically like robots on the shop floors and live up in dingy and pathetic surroundings.

    I would not be surprised if Chinese in India are engaged in espionage. Is any watch being kept on the Chinese in India? China is the most dangerous country in the world, a big bully and a threat to world peace.

    Why are Indian leaders and politicians so dumb?

    • China is the most dangerous country in the world, a big bully and a threat to world peace. – Mr. Nelson

      To the “big bully” – I would say ‘yes’, but to the other two, it is highly debatable. You see, if China were indeed to be the “most dangerous country in the world” AND “a threat to world peace”, Tesla would never even think of China as a manufacturing centre for their much-vaunted cars. Britain would not suck-up to them either! (Now, just lean back and watch him bad-mouth me

      Now, with regard to the other two, WHY on his non-existent ‘Akhanda Bharatha’ & very-existent voluminous frock (subtitle in Kannada – ಆರ್ ಎಸ್ ಎಸ್ ಚಡ್ಡಿ) is our bewildered Yumreeki Rampa – a very very rare earth deep down…. I mean, a person deeply DOWN to earth (ref: “sophisticated mind, superior post, excellent analysis etc. Ahem! 🙂 ) yammering on and on saying that Pakistan deserves that dubious distinction?

      What gibberish is he dishing-out on a daily basis? Does he think that there is anybody else to lap it up – his “sophisticated” self EXCLUDED?

  4. “When the word “or” is used, isn’t it included? Jeez!” – joker Praveena Pinto

    As I told you earlier, read Nelson’s post again!! It says – “It could have been as small as a tug or gun boat on one end of the scale or 80,000 odd tons aircraft-carrier”. The keys words are ‘could have been’ and ‘or’. He is referring to average daily industrial output during world-war days!! It doesn’t mean that they produced an aircraft carrier everyday. It also doesn’t mean that it took them only one day to produce an aircraft carrier. The post refers to what they managed to deliver on daily basis!! For an educated, sophisticated mind, these are easy to understand. In your case, even after multiple attempts and help, your struggle continues. You better practice ‘dinka-dinka-do’ and ape your foreign masters!!

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