India world’s Best In Mountain Warfare : Chinese Expert
India, not US, Russia or China, has the world’s largest and most experienced mountain army, says a top Chinese military expert. Vietnamese military officers and analysts agree. They say they have gained much knowledge on mountain warfare from Indian army, much as the Indians have on partisan behind-the-lines warfare and its integration with the enveloping tactics of the regular army from the Vietnamese who gave the PLA a ‘real bloody nose’ in 1979.
Huang Guozhi, senior editor of Beijing’s Modern Weaponry magazine has said India has the world’s largest and most experienced troops trained for high-altitude battles.
That realisation may have percolated to PLA command levels and may explain why it is unwilling to risk a 1962 border war with India on the icy Himalayan heights.
“At present, the world’s largest and experienced country with plateau and mountain troops is neither the US, Russia, nor any European powerhouse, but India,” wrote Huang Guozhi, senior editor of Modern Weaponry magazine.
The magazine, a respected defence journal, is affiliated to the state-owned China North Industries Group Corporation Limited (NORINCO), the main supplier of military hardware for the PLA.
NORINCO is one of the world’s largest defence contractors and has been earmarked a key role in President Xi Jinping’s legacy project, the Belt and Road Initiative, because countries receiving Chinese BRI projects are encouraged to rely on Chinese military hardware.
Huang’s article hit thr stand duri g the Ladakh stand-off between Indian and Chinese border troops .
Huang’s nuanced article in thepaper.cn is a rare admission of Indian military capabilities in Chinese media, which tends to flaunt its own military superiority .
“Mountaineering is an essential skill for almost every member of the Indian mountain army. To this end, India even recruited a large number of professional mountaineers and amateur mountaineers from the private sector,” Huang wrote.
“With more than 200000 troops in 12 divisions, the Indian mountain force is the largest mountain fighting force in the world,” he added.
His focus is on human material, training, special capabilities rather than equipment and logistics where the Chinese enjoy a huge lead.
Huang said that since the 1970s, the Indian military has expanded the size and the specialised training of its mountain formations .
The Chinese analyst appears trifle uneasy with the raising of the mountain strike corps headquartered at Panagarh , a mountain strike force of more than 50,000 troops.
Giving the example of the Siachen Glacier, Huang wrote: “The Indian army has set up hundreds of outposts in the Siachen Glacier area with an altitude of more than 5,000 metres, with 6,000 to 7,000 fighters stationed. The highest post has reached 6,749 metres.”
Huang’s source of information is possibly Chinese intelligence in view of its depth of details, specially about the weaponry.
“In terms of equipment, the Indian military, through procurement from abroad and domestic research and development, has equipped its mountain divisions with a large number of main battle weapons adapted to the combat environment of the plateau and mountains.”
“The Indian military has also spent heavily on advanced heavy equipment from the US including the M777, the world’s lightest 155mm-towed howitzer, and the Chinook heavy transport helicopter that lifts the gun, to boost its fire support and anti-armour capabilities”.
Huang also mentioned the high-calibre sniper rifles that Indian soldiers deployed at high-altitudes are now equipped with.
The analyst also listed shortcomings of the Indian army , mainly its lack of self-sufficiency in weaponry and ammunition and growing dependence on Western weaponry.
“In addition, there are many conflicts and differences between the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. This has also led the Indian Army to decide to equip its own US-made AH-64E Longbow Apache attack helicopters instead of relying entirely on airfield support from the air force,” Huang wrote.
Incidentally, India and the US signed an estimated $800 million contract in February this year in New Delhi for the delivery of six Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters to the Indian Army’s Aviation Corps (AAC).
Huang has also possibly drawn on the battle performance of the Indian Army, which even during the humiliating 1962 defeat , fought much larger Chinese formations with unusual bravery.
Vietnamese army, which outflanked and outgunned , admits to ‘rich military interactions’ with Indian army .
“We have gained much on mountain warfare and counter-insurgency though we dont have those exact challenges back home,” said a senior Vietnamese officer.
He said on condition of anonymity that the visiting Indian officers have closely studied and discussed the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war and the ‘tactics we employ to trap and encircle and then decimate the advancing Chinese formations.’
” If they fight now , the Chinese can forget about a 1962 type walkover. They will face unacceptable casualties and the Indians will really strike hard, even possibly advance into Tibet at certain points. It will be an up-and-down war, not a 1962 type one-way stuff,” said the senior Vietnamese officer.
” If the Indian soldier is properly supplied , he is unbeatable.”