According to Sources, American Intelligence Assisted India in Routing China in the 2022 Border Conflict
Due to unprecedented intelligence sharing with the U.S., India was able to thwart a Chinese military incursion in disputed border territory in the high Himalayas late last year. military, U.S. News has learned, an act that caught China’s People’s Liberation Army forces off-guard, enraged Beijing and appears to have forced the Chinese Communist Party to reconsider its approach to land grabs along its borders.
According to a source familiar with previously unreported U.S. actions, the U.S. government for the first time gave its Indian counterparts real-time information about the Chinese positions and force strength prior to a PLA incursion. intelligence review of the encounter into the the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The information included actionable satellite imagery and was more detailed and delivered more quickly than anything the U.S. had previously shared with the Indian military.
It made a difference.
The subsequent clash on Dec. 9 involving hundreds of troops wielding spiked clubs and As in previous encounters, the use of tasers did not result in any fatalities; instead, only a dozen or so injuries and, most noticeably, a Chinese retreat were reported.
“They waited, and the reason for that is that the U.S. had given India everything to be fully prepared for this,” the source says. “It serves as a case study for how well the two militaries are currently collaborating and exchanging intelligence.”
The details of the encounter and the American role, including the U.S.’s unprecedented support, were confirmed by a number of current and former analysts and officials, some of whom spoke under the condition of anonymity. military provided to India on the ground is the result of a new era of cooperation between the two powers in recognition of their shared goals to oppose Chinese expansionism.
While the new partnership produced positive outcomes in this remote and relatively undeveloped area of the world, it also has significant implications for how the United States conducts business. and its allies can effectively offset Beijing’s ambitions for land grabs there – and elsewhere.
“A phase of probing and testing is typically underway with the PLA. They want to know how the Indians can and will respond and to see what the Indians can detect,” says Former top Pentagon representative for international affairs who is now with the United States Institute of Peace is Vikram Singh. “It’s about China preparing for future conflict.”
The United States, according to a highly credible source who is familiar with the evaluation of this intelligence. government in the weeks before the encounter was fully cognizant that China was conducting test operations in the area to see if it could gain a new foothold in the isolated mountain passes there or in other areas that were under Chinese and Indian claim.
As they have done in the past, most notably in 2020 in the Galwan Valley, several thousand miles to the west, when the two militaries last engaged in combat, several hundred PLA soldiers operating on the Chinese side intended to move forward and stay along the portion of the border that is not officially demarcated. At least twelve people died in that fight on both sides.
But unlike the previous encounters, the Indian forces identified the Chinese positions using the intelligence provided by the U.S. and maneuvered to intercept them.
The basis for the new intelligence-sharing arrangement stems from an agreement the Indian and U.S. governments signed in 2020 known as the BECA, or Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation. It was the fourth agreement that guaranteed increased military, logistical, compatibility, and security information sharing between the two powers.
The BECA itself is known to the public, but there hasn’t been any prior reporting on the process of actually sharing intelligence to useful effect.
It is still unknown why the Chinese decided to enter the disputed territory in Arunachal Pradesh at that time. The state news services and public officials have kept relatively quiet about the embarrassing encounter, as they have in previous encounters where its forces did not prevail. A spokesman for its foreign ministry said days later that the situation at the border was “generally stable.”
A spokesperson for the Chinese government informed the U.S. that the government would not comment on specific inquiries regarding the incident and its aftermath. News only, “As of right now, we don’t know anything about this problem.”
However, a distinct U.S. intelligence assessment considered of lower reliability than the first suggests the Chinese paid particular attention to several U.S. military activities in another region in the weeks before – all part of unprecedented training exercises the The 11th Airborne Division, which was reactivated in 2022 and is based in Alaska and is responsible for operations in the Pacific, was hosted by Indian military forces.
Along with the exercises, which China views as provocative, the American visitors also held a promotion ceremony for four of the unit’s officers at a staging area beneath Nanda Devi, India’s second-tallest peak and a source of immense cultural significance for the nearby communities. Along with their regional counterparts, they also put on an impromptu outdoor rock concert at one of the bases. Public relations representatives made both events, which took place in late November and early December, days before the conflict in Arunachal Pradesh, public, which, according to the intelligence assessment, infuriated Beijing. Many current and former officials claim that it seemed intentional.
“It certainly looked like it was designed to annoy the Chinese, which I completely appreciate,” says Singh. “That was certainly the kind of thing the Chinese would view as a signal, as a message, and that they would potentially want to respond to.”
When asked if the 11th Airborne believes there to be any connection between the morale-boosting activities and the subsequent battle, a spokesman declined to comment on any intelligence conclusions.
“But we are excited to continue working and training with our counterparts in the Indian army during exercises like Yudh Abhyas,” added the spokesman, John Pennell, referring to the official name of the exercises, which are now yearly. “The promotions and spontaneous music, on the other hand, were just a friendly gesture to recognize the professionalism and dedication of our soldiers and a chance to unwind with friends following a demanding training mission.”
India has historically shied away from formal military alliances, preferring to maintain security by courting a number of patrons, as, for example, it continues to do with Russia, taking advantage of a long history of arming its military with Soviet weapons and equipment.
That started to change in the years leading up to 2020, when several Indian troops perished in the Galwan Valley conflict and the White House, led by then-President Donald Trump, sought to hasten cooperation with New Delhi.
The Galwan Valley conflict, according to several former officials who worked on the BECA and other agreements, caused the Indians to recognize the need for more geospatial intelligence similar to that provided by the United States. can deliver.
“The current standoff stems directly from the growing strategic competition between China and India,” private intelligence firm Arunachal Pradesh brawl was specifically mentioned by the Soufan Center in an analysis from early February.
“The strategic alliance between India and the West is seen by China as a threat to its sway over the Asia-Pacific. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the standoff, as both countries put forth fewer diplomatic resources to resolve the dispute while dealing with pandemic-related crises,” it added. “Indian foreign policy is very likely to pivot around tackling the Chinese security threat and ensuring its own ascent in the Asian power balance.”
New Delhi has irritated the last several U.S. presidential administrations by suddenly pulling out of planned arms purchases of U.S. drones, for example, or insisting on maintaining its economic and energy ties with Russia – a move analysts attribute to the vastness of the resources India must secure for its people, 800 million of whom require government food assistance.
However, several people who worked in those administrations claim that every president since Barack Obama has understood that India is still a crucial partner for the 21st century, if not the most crucial one. The Americans say they are not disappointed because they are used to working with their Indian counterparts on a regular basis and they know New Delhi will never form a formal alliance.
Others point out that after defeating their Chinese counterparts in the Arunachal Pradesh region, the new arrangement has had the desired impact for the Indian government.
“This will definitely rattle the Chinese because they will have not experienced this before, and they perhaps had a sense of superiority that they were able to do this with different skirmishes in the past,” the source says. “The advantage they previously enjoyed was gone this time.”