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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

JFR Jacob on Chinese troops in Gilgit

September 1, 2010

Sify News (India)
August 31, 2010

Gen JFR Jacob, the hero of the 1971 India
Pakistan war, warns that unless India wakes up to
the recent developments in Gilgit Baltistan, it may be too late.

The Dragon has emerged from its lair with a vengeance.

A senior Indian army officer was denied an
official Chinese visa on the grounds that he was
commanding in Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory according to the Chinese.

The Chinese occupy considerable amount of
territory in Ladakh, which they captured in 1962
. They are now slowly making inroads into the
Indus Valley and other areas. In 1963, Pakistan
had illegally ceded some 5,000 square km (2000 sq
miles) in the area of the Karakoram to China.

Pakistan is now reported to have handed over
control of the major part of the northern
territories to China. Media reports indicate that
there are some 10,000 Chinese soldiers based in
Gilgit on the pretext of protecting the widening
work on the Karakoram Highway and the
construction of a railway line to link east Tibet
with the Pakistani port of Gwadar in the Gulf of Oman.

The Russians in the 19th and 20th centuries
dreamt of a getting warm water port on the
Arabian Sea. The Chinese seem well on the way to fulfilling this Russian dream.

In a further move to encircle India by sea, the
Chinese are establishing naval and air bases on
Myanmar’s Ramree Island in the Bay of Bengal.
(Incidentally, I took part in the amphibous
assault on  Ramree Island during World War II).
These bases on Ramree Island will help the
Chinese in their endeavors to control the upper
Bay of Bengal and pose a threat to Kolkata, Vishakapatnam and the Andamans.

The presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit is a
matter of great concern. During the Kargil
conflict, the five battalions of the intruding
paramilitary Northern Rifles were maintained from
Gilgit and thence from Skardu. There is a good
road from Gilgit to Skardu. In pre-Partition
days, road communications to Gilgit were along
the Kargil-Skardu-Gilgit route. This section can
easily be restored in a short period of time.

The reported presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit
poses a serious threat to Indian road
communications to Ladakh running through Kargil.

Another matter of concern is the increased
Chinese interest in the Indus Valley. The easiest
approach to Leh is along this valley. The Chinese
have not only shown interest in the Indus Valley
but also the Karakoram Pass between India and China.

Any Chinese move through the Karakoram Pass will
threaten our troops in Siachen and our base
there. In the contingency of any future conflict
with the Chinese, new areas of conflict in Ladakh
will open up. I served in Ladakh for two years
immediately after the Chinese invasion of
1962,  and it fell under my purview subsequently
as Chief of Staff and Army Commander  covering the northeast.

Keeping these factors in mind, there is a urgent
requirement for another division and supporting
armour to be raised for the defence of Ladakh.

In the northeast, the Chinese may after
negotiations reduce their claims from the whole
of Arunachal to the Tawang tract and Walong.

Major Bob Kathing and his Assam Rifles platoon
only moved to take control of  Tawang in the
spring of 1951 . The Chinese had placed a pillar
in Walong in the 1870's. They have built up the
road rail and air infrastructure in Tibet. It is
assessed that the Chinese can now induct some 30
divisions there in a matter of weeks.

In west Bhutan, they have moved upto the Torsa
Nulla. From there it is not far to Siliguri via
Jaldakha. This remains the most serious threat to the Siliguri corridor.

There is thus a need to raise two more divisions
and an armoured brigade for that region. There is
an urgent requirement for more artillery firepower and mobility.

More helicopters are also needed. The Air Force
needs to deploy more squadrons in that region,
since unlike 1962, the air force will play a
decisive role in any future operations.

The Chinese are also said to be re-establishing
their earlier links with the Naga insurgents.

In 1974/75, I was in charge of operations that
intercepted two Naga gangs going to China to
collect weapons and money. The Nagas were then
compelled to sign the Shillong Accord, and
Chinese support for the Naga insurgents was put
on the back burner. This has now been re
activated as part of an overall Chinese scheme to destabilize the north east.

The increasing military collaboration between
China and Pakistan is of growing concern, but we
seem woefully unprepared for this contingency.

The government urgently needs to expedite the
induction of land and air weapons systems and to
build up the required reserves of ammunition and
spares. In any future conflict logistics will be of paramount importance.

During the 1971 war, it took me some six months
to build up the infrastructure for the operations
in East Pakistan. The requirements now are far
far greater. Modern weapon systems take a long
time to induct and absorb. The induction of new
weapons systems and build up of logistical
backing should be initiated on an emergency footing.

At the moment, we seem to have insufficient resources to meet this contingency.

We are critically short of modern weapons systems
and weaponry. No new 155 guns have been inducted for some two decades .

During the limited Kargil conflict, we ran out of
155mm ammunition for the Bofors field guns.
Fortunately for us the Israelis flew out the required ammunition.

New aircraft for our Air Force are yet to be
inducted. The navy is short of vital weapons
systems . These shortages need to be addressed soonest.

There is no Soviet Union with its Treaty of
Friendship to help us now [in 1971,  the Soviets
moved 40 divisions to the Xinjiang and seven to
the Manchurian borders to deter the Chinese]. We
have to rely on our own resources. We must show
that we have the will and wherewithal to meet the emerging contingencies.

It is high time the government reappraises the
emerging situation and puts in place the measures
required to meet the developing situation. Or soon it might be too late.

Editor's note:
- Lt Gen JFR Jacob is not an armchair warrior. He
has dealt with terrorism and insurgency over a period of many years.
- As a young major, he took part in intensive
counter insurgency operations in Sumatra 1945/1946.
- In 1970, he was responsible for setting up the
army counter insurgency school in Mizoram.
- He was in charge of anti-Naxal operations in
West Bengal in 1969-1971. The then chief minister
Siddharta Shankar Ray used to say: 'Jake and I, we broke the Naxals.'
- In 1974/1975 the army intercepted two Naga
gangs going to China [Jacob camped at Mokochong
to conduct operations]. The army attacked their
bases and finally forced the insurgents to sign
the Shillong Accord in 1975. Twelve years of peace followed.
- He oversaw operations in Mizoram and got the
hostiles to the negotiating table in Calcutta. [Calcutta Conference, 1978).
- On the other side of the coin, he was
responsible in setting up the Bangladesh Mukti
Bahini in April 1971, and oversaw their operations.
- In October 2007, He was invited to speak to the
American military, State Department and CIA at
Capitol Hill. The lecture was broadcast live. The
US Marine Corps subsequently requested permission
to incorporate parts of the talk in their counterinsurgency doctrine.
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