by Harsh V Pant & Pushan Das


China presents a long term, multifaceted challenge to India: on the disputed border and India’s maritime periphery. The aim of this primer is to assess India’s current military effectiveness and combat potential vis-a-vis China. While there are no easy answers or simple formulas for the assessment of Indian military effectiveness, it is vital to understand how the changing capabilities, doctrines and tactics of the Chinese military impacts the effectiveness of India’s conventional military deterrent. Given that China is unlikely to shift strategies away from relying on coercion and manipulating risk to achieve its territorial objectives, observing its military modernisation and development of power projection capabilities will influence the trajectory that characterises the Indian defence establishment’s strategy to counter the kinetic and geographic components of China’s growing capabilities.

India’s military effectiveness must be located at all the three levels of military activity: the strategic, the operational and the tactical. While overlapping, each is characterised by different actions, procedures and goals. This primer emphasises the operational approach, underlining the importance of doctrines, tactics, combined arms, inter-service systems and their proper utilisation on the battlefield, and makes a break from the narrative of observing capabilities centred on new military hardware as it is introduced in-service. If this primer succeeds in generating an honest debate on the military challenge China poses to India, it would serve its purpose.

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