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India After Galwan

Galwan Valley was a name given by a Ladakhi explorer, Ghulam Rasool Galwan, in the late 1800s. Galwan, situated within India's Ladakh region, historically served as a crucial trade route connecting India and Tibet. The valley's steep cliffs, rocky landscape, and the Galwan River characterise its geography; the Galwan River flows through this valley.

Illustration by The Geostrata

Situated near the Line of Actual Control separating India and China, the valley holds geopolitical relevance. Recent India-China border tensions, notably the 2020 Galwan Valley clash, have thrust it into the international spotlight. Its location near the India-China border Line of Actual Control (LAC) makes it strategically vital. 

The Galwan Valley has a tough landscape and a past filled with battles. Yet it stands for nature's charm and the knotty links between history, land shapes, and today's strategic interests.


During the Galwan conflict in 2020, the initial response of the Indian Army aimed to protect India's land and keep its troops in that area safe. In response to the aggressive manoeuvres by Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley, the Indian Army implemented strategic operations aimed at halting escalating tensions while reaffirming India's territorial sovereignty.

The Indian military's response to the Galwan Valley conflict involved fortifying the troop presence in the disputed region, ere­cting robust defensive positions, and simultaneously engaging in diplomatic discussions aimed at defusing the tensions.

Despite concerted efforts to resolve the contentious situation through peaceful negotiations, the confrontation has only intensified, culminating in a violent clash between Indian and Chinese forces, resulting in casualties sustained by both sides.

Ultimately, the initial response orchestrated by the Indian Army during the Galwan standoff was characterised by a multifaceted approach encompassing a defensive posture, diplomatic overtures, and an unwavering resolve to safeguard national interests while simultaneously exploring avenues for a peaceful de-escalation of the impasse.


After the 2001 parliament attack, India launched Operation Parakram. The operation was based on the Sunderji Doctrine of 1979, which was focused on the mobilisation of troops on the battlefield.

The Sunderji doctrine talked about having a pivot corps and a strike corps; the pivot corps was stationed close to the border areas, while the strike corps was stationed away from the border areas. 

1 strike corps (Mathura)
2 strike corps (Ambala)
21 strike corps (Bhopal)


In case of a conflict, the pivot corps is responsible for holding the ground until the strike corps arrives, and then the strike corps takes on the responsibility of capturing enemy territory and conducting deep strikes.

During Operation Parakram, the Strike Corps took 27 days to mobilise, which gave the Pakistani military time to counter-mobilize, due to which the element of surprise was lost, and eventually, India did not go ahead with the plan. This meant that the Sunderji doctrine failed and that India now needed a more sophisticated military response doctrine.

India later adopted the Cold Start doctrine, which focused on quick and effective deployment of troops on the battlefield. It also adopted the creation of integrated battle groups. In 2011, India tested this doctrine with Operation Vijay Bhava. The exercise achieved the desired results as it was a multi-service operation and it took less than 48 hours to mobilise troops and equipment. 

After the Galwan incident, India used the same Cold Start doctrine to effectively deploy troops close to the Chinese border. It used the transport fleet of the Indian Air Force to deploy troops and equipment. Within a week, India was prepared to respond to any threat from the Chinese.

The Indian troops, reacting swiftly to the unfolding crisis, reinforced their presence in the strategically vital Galwan Valley, deploying additional personnel and fortifying their defensive positions. This proactive measure aimed to establish a formidable deterrent against potential escalation while simultaneously signalling India's firm commitment to upholding its territorial integrity.

Concurrently, the Indian military leadership engaged in multilateral diplomatic consultations.

  1. Constant watchfulness, and unending readiness—the incident highlighted their essential significance in contentious borderlands. Both sides are armed and alert; swift response is foremost when tensions inevitably ignite.

  2. Open pathways of discourse, extinguishing sparks of strife: communication's clarity, protocols preempting escalation to combat, paramount necessities, let misunderstandings erupt calamitously.

  3. Soldiers adept at navigating nature's obstacles might be tailored to rough terrain. Ground-level mastery proves vital, fortifying units for operations amid frontier hardships.

  4. Visible might project sovereignty, deterring its audacious ambitions. Appropriately postured forces and robust deterrence capabilities are cornerstones for repelling aggressive forces and asserting territorial integrity.

  5. The incident emphasises the broader geopolitical implications of border disputes and the importance of diplomatic initiatives to resolve underlying issues.

  6. Tactical lessons may include the importance of force protection, rules of engagement, and situational awareness during high-pressure encounters.

  7. Military actions should be complemented by strategic communication and diplomatic efforts to manage crises and prevent further escalation.



Right now, Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a border standoff. India, having the experience and skill of mountain warfare, is effectively managing its troops at the border. India channels its high-altitude deployment in three phases.

In the initial phase, troops are stationed at low altitude for 20 days, where they undergo basic acclimatisation, after which they are deployed at base camps for high-altitude acclimatisation for five days. The troops then get ready to be deployed at high altitudes after a medical evaluation.

Through this, the Indian army maintains a constant flow of deployment and training at higher altitudes, which gives it a competitive edge over the Chinese. 

Post-Galwan, the Indian army has created multiple Mountain Strike Corps, which are dedicated to being deployed against the Chinese. This will further enhance India’s military capabilities in mountainous terrain and solve problems like communication and logistics in mountainous terrain. 

The Indian Army has also used some of the most sophisticated weapons and machines near the border; the deployment of indigenous artillery and armoured vehicles has proved India’s defence capabilities.

Also, the deployment of heavy tanks such as the T-90 and T-72 has provided support to the infantry in the area. India is also looking forward to producing weapons and machines that can be deployed at higher altitudes and transported easily. One such project is the Zorawar tank, which is a lightweight tank that can be easily deployed and used against the Chinese.

Post Galwan incident the Indian Air Force has also increased the number of bases near the Chinese border. The IAF has converted its semi-operational air base to a fully operational base, and the strategically important Daulat Beg Oldi airfield has also been transformed into a transport air base to provide logistical support to the Indian army. 

This has improved the logistical and strike capabilities of the IAF, also the IAF holds an advantage over the PLAAF as its air bases are located at a higher altitude compared to its counterpart. Due to this, the aircraft takes less time and fuel to attain operational altitudes.

Overall, post-Galwan, the Indian Armed Forces have transformed in terms of their operational capabilities and management of manpower. This transformation is helping India prepare for future challenges.





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