Even as the military standoff between India and China was on Doklam plateau, the Indian Army carried out its biggest exercise, involving actual war gaming with troops, in the Himalayas.
The 74-day standoff (June 16 to August 28) did not come in the way of Army’s 17 Crops to conduct its scheduled two-month-long exercise that commenced in the first week of August and ended just a week before Diwali.
The 17 Corps is also known as the Mountain Strike Corps. A brigade-strength (around 3,500 men) exercise was carried out in strategically located Eastern Ladakh. Though this could have sent a message to China that Delhi was ramping up, the exercise was carried out.
Eastern Ladakh, part of Jammu and Kashmir, shares 826-km frontier with China and is geographically defined as the area from Karakoram Pass in the north to Demchok in the south-east.
Eastern Ladakh—a barren landscape dotted with high mountains and equally high passes—has been virtually militarily “tailored” to prevent a repeat of 1962—when China, with a few exceptions, literally overran the Indian military defences.
Indian war gaming aimed at stopping the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) of China, in case of a war in the sector. This includes a method of getting real-time updates on Chinese movement using satellite imagery; countering their patrols along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC)—the de facto border—with own patrols; maintaining a minimum level of firepower and future stationing of fighter jets at Leh, the key airbase in Ladakh.
The Army has already stationed three regiments of tanks in Ladakh. India and China have differing perception along the LAC, including Pangong Tso. The sub-sector north, which includes Depsang plains at 18,000 feet and also the areas abutting the Aksai Chin and Galwan, is among the other flashpoints.