India and China are in a complex stand off situation for more than 2 months now. This situation was quite different from earlier ones as this time after 1967, we had a battle casualty at Line of Actual control. Who can forget the brutal skirmish at Galwan Valley on 15th June?
Both the Nations are engaged in negotiation to back out, and we can see little bit of improvement in the situation along LAC, however if anyone thinks that LAC or the Aksai Chin is the bone of content, then they are absolutely wrong.
The actual war is somewhere else
Yes, you heard it right, the actual war will be fought somewhere else, in waters of Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, because that’s is where the interest of China actually lies.
India has deployed half a squadron of Jaguar-IM maritime strike Jets
Per some unconfirmed reports, Indian Airforce has deployed half a squadron of Jaguar-IM maritime strike aircrafts at Car Nicobar island. These Jaguar-IM are armed with AGM-84L Harpoon Block 2 missile. Harpoon missile is called as ‘Ship Killer’ for their immense ability to destroy War Ships and Vessels.
This deployment came after the news that 2-3 Chinese PLA Navy warships have taken to safe waters near the Djibouti coast and three other PLA Navy warships have exited through Malacca Strait to their Hainan base.This news confirms that China is indeed planning something big in Indian Ocean and India has started confronting China in waters as well.
Is Indian Ocean the new Battleground for India and China?
China knows how to keep its enemy busy and prepare a new war front at some other place. While China kept India busy at North-Eastern border past few years, its Maritime activities are in upswing in the Indian Ocean Region. China has been buling ports and other major infrastructure in nations like Sri Lanka,Myanmar and Bangladesh.
China has its Naval base in Djibouti
It has built and activated its first overseas base in Djibouti and has been conducting regular patrols in the region for quite sometime now. This base was set up in 2017 as a logistics support unit (as they projected), is being upgraded into a full-fledged naval base with a 1,120-feet pier. This base stations more than 10,000 troops and China can bring its Warships, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier here at any time it wants. China also trying to militarize the Gwadar port to use it against India.
China has also sent its nuclear submarine patrols and frequent port visits to Pakistan, which has been detected by Indian Navy at multiple times. It seems, it is only a matter of time before the Chinese will unleash its aircraft carrier group in Indian ocean, provided if nobody raise an alarm and give a befitting reply to China.
What India is doing?
India holds a unique advantage in Indian Ocean, through access to and from this Ocean is via choke point called Malacca Straits. This is the very point which connects the Indian Ocean to the Eastern Asian nations and Pacific Ocean. China feels this as a grave threat as most of its trade traverses from Malacca Straights.
India has strategic location advantage, as it can monitor the movement of traffic to and fro, specifically any movement of any warships or submarines in this very region. In event of any war like situation, India can block the movement of Chinese merchant ships/Warships through these waters, however that will remain a last option always.
India’s Maritime and Strategic Alliance in Deep waters
India has signed an concordat with USA, Japan and Australia, all formed a ‘Quad‘ in Asia-Pacific region to thwart and regional threat. India, USA and Japan are organizing ‘Malabar Exercise’ for couple of years and in future Australia will be joining this exercise. Indian and Japanese warships have recently carried out a small exercise near the Malacca Strait. All Nations have a common threat aka China.
Since India-China standoff started, USA has unprecedentedly deployed three Carrier Battle Groups in the Western Pacific, including two in the South China Sea to mount a pressure on China and to ensure it doesn’t attempt an misadventure in this region.
India is fortifying the Andaman Nicobar Base
India has been working to deploy additional defense personnel in Andaman & Nicobar Islands and boosting infrastructure to counter China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean Region. The Andaman Nicobar Command is India’s only ‘Theatre Command‘ with all assets and manpower of Army, Navy, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard placed under one operational commander. In last 5-6 years, India has fortified this Command like never before, keeping an eye on China for any future flash-point.
Currently Indian Airforce’s 15 FBSU, comprising 153 Squadron and 4 Maritime Element, are deployed at Port Blair. Indian Airforce has deployed 37 Air Wing, comprising Helicopters from 122 squadron and Dornier Do 228 from 151 squadron at Air Force Station Car Nicobar.
PASSEX Exercise with USA Navy
While you are reading this article, Indian Navy Warships have the USS Nimitz, the largest American warship, to conduct The PASSEX (passing exercise) between the two Navies. The PASSEX has helped build “interoperability” through a series of “Malabar” and other drills, it will provide a greater opportunity to both the Nations to build a strategy to counter any threat in this area.
USS Nimitz arriving in Andaman and Nicobar, indeed sends a strong strategic signal to China that in any adverse situation USA is will be backing India and take appropriate measures.
In the end, we can say that skirmishes at North-Eastern borders are just a diversion, the actual tipping point in the future would be Indian Ocean. China has actually worked on this in last decade when it devised its ‘String of Pearls’ strategy. India was lagging behind, but it has catch up up to good extent in last 5-6 years. But we have to be very cautious and have to prepare ourselves to match the aggression of China.
The war is coming; there is no doubt about it. Whether it is in our ocean or it is on the Himalayan borders, we need to be prepared for a 2-front war. Since we would require all our strength on the eastern border, India might want to reconsider no-first-use nuclear strike restriction if Pakistan intervenes on China’s behalf while our troops are busy.
We are not strong enough to fight 2 countries simultaneously and need to weigh in drastic options, which means resorting to preemptive nuclear strikes in case of Indian territorial losses.