After recent bloody clashes with Chinese troops over a disputed border area along what is known as the “Line of Actual Control” (LAC), India has now deployed its Special Forces units in Ladakh to prepare to defend its territory against further violence.
On June 15, the worst border fighting in nearly 60 years took place. Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the same disputed Ladakh region located high in the Himalayas. At least 20 Indian soldiers and up to 50 Chinese troops were killed in the fighting. Both sides accused the other of violating the LAC, the de facto border between the two countries.
In compliance with the provisions of a previously agreed upon pact aimed at stopping the escalation of any border skirmish to all-out conflict, neither the Indian nor Chinese troops were armed. So, the troops reverted to warfare akin to the Stone Age, as the two sides fought for nearly six hours with fists, rocks, iron bars, and whatever weapon they could pick up from the ground. Most of the dead were either bludgeoned to death or pushed off the high cliffs.
As a result, the Indian military has moved several Special Forces and airborne units from different areas of the country into Ladakh. They are now training for different scenarios with exercises meant to simulate what could transpire in another outbreak of hostilities between the two nations.
“Para special forces units have been moved from different locations in the country to the Ladakh region where they are already carrying out exercises,” military sources told media outlets Aajtak and India Today.
The Special Forces units, the sources added, played key roles in India’s operations against terrorist camps in 2017 following a terrorist attack on the Indian Army Brigade Headquarters in Uri. Those Special Forces units conducted surgical strikes against terrorists based in the Pakistani area of Kashmir and would be immediately called upon if more clashes with the Chinese PLA were to occur.
During the 2017 strikes against the terrorists, Indian Army Special Forces, near the Line of Control (LOC), destroyed several bases that the terrorists were using to launch attacks. The SF units also targeted and eliminated a number of terrorists, as well as Pakistan Army troops that been tasked with training and guiding the terrorists to India through different routes.
India has more than 12 Special Forces regiments that specialize in warfare on different types of terrain; they have developed specialized units in the desert, mountains, and jungle terrain. The Special Forces units deployed in Jammu and Kashmir regularly train and operate in high-altitude areas in and around Leh.
However, the Indian Army has recognized that the Special Forces need to be more cross-trained and have better flexibility whereby all of its units will be able to operate effectively in all different kinds of terrain and operations. The Indian Army is in the midst of changing its Selection and Assessment of Special Forces personnel to better see to those needs.
The two sides had fought an open conflict over the disputed border area in 1962. Thousands on each side were killed in the brutal fighting. The LAC came about as a result of those clashes. The previous time that hostilities occurred in the area was in 1975 when Chinese troops killed four Indian soldiers in an ambush in the Twang region of northeastern India.