The report said General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army, is set to visit the Kolkata-based Eastern Command before the end of the month to track the progress of the new 17 Corps, which is being set up to counter China's reconnaissance and intelligence along the 4,057-kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries. The corps is likely to be operational by 2022, the report said, adding that it is expected to reduce China's combat power advantage over India from the current ratio of 3:1 to 2.1:1.
Singh, who recently completed a tour along the the disputed LAC in the sensitive Ladakh area of India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, has also served as an inspector general in a covert China-centric unit comprising Tibetan soldiers called the Special Frontier Force, the report added.
Additionally, India is seeking greater opportunities for defense cooperation with the US in the development and production of modern weapons systems, the report said, though plans to buy 145 BAE Systems M777 ultra-light howitzers from the US for the 17 Corps have stagnated due to the high cost.
The Tribune, another English-language Indian daily newspaper, has also reported that India is ramping up military defenses in Jammu and Kashmir after Beijing "ringed the area" with six airfields, fighter jets and special forces. As part of the movie, New Delhi will reportedly move an armored brigade of 150 T-72 tanks to Ladakh and deploy Smerch multi-barrel rocket launch units — which are capable of hitting targets 70-80km away — at key locations.
The Indian media reports were published shortly before new claims that Chinese troops crossed what New Delhi perceived to be its side of the LAC before entering 25-30km deep into in Burtse area of north Ladakh on Sunday. India reportedly despatched a quick reaction team to the site but the Chinese troops refused to budge. A spokesperson from the Indian army downplayed the incident by saying that there are areas along the border where India and China have differing perceptions of the LAC.
Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told China's nationalistic tabloid Global Times that India's bolstering of defenses along border comes as no surprise. Due to significant differences in perception over the LAC, Chinese and Indian troops have had many confrontations in the area in the past, Zhao said, though it is clear that recent actions from New Delhi are not in the interests of Sino-India relations.