When it comes to China we are paranoid. Our commentators have recklessly embellished the China threat with hysterical paranoia. The latest to join the list of such distinguished commentators is Suman Sharma. (LT Satyameva Jayate) Central to her argument that Chinese forces will be able to mobilise and capture Arunachal Pradesh in 48 hours, no more, are three claims.

First, China has stationed four Rapid Reaction Force divisions that can be airlifted into the region. The Chinese Rapid reaction forces are not a new phenomenon – in fact these have existed in one form or the other since early 1990’s. Thus these are not new raisings but mere re-organised troops with a new label attached.

Second, these four rapid reaction force divisions are ‘airborne’. While it is true that some of these rapid reaction troops can be quickly airlifted to the region the assertion that PLA can airlift 90,000 troops in less than 48 hours is laughable to say the least. A quick look at the PRC’s air assets indicate that PLAAF is capable of airlifting no more than one division in 24 hours.

Third, if you believe Suman Sharma India utterly lacks airlift capabilities. For reasons of convenience the dozens of Antonov and Hawker Siddeley aircraft that are at the disposal of the Indian armed forces are ignored.

It is nauseating to treat airlift like a heaven sent gift that would solve the complexities of large scale mobilisation and deployment of armed forces. Airlift like rapid reaction forces are not new.

India had convincingly demonstrated its airlift and quick deployment capabilities as far back as 1987. Under the talented leadership of Gen.Sunderji the IA had airlifted three divisions into Arunachal Pradesh in the shortest possible time. It is not hard to see that our airlift capabilities have only increased since then.

Allow me to warn you that this post is not a contest of who has the biggest stick. It is indeed true that India has lagged in a number of crucial areas like border infrastructure. Arms procurement is truly  in a state of mess.

But these setbacks are not excuses for alarmist Sinophobia.

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Amar

Amar Govindarajan is a management professional based out of somewhere in South India. He spends his spare time in bird-watching, dog keeping and reading Popular science. He is also a member of the CRI Editorial team.

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