CHINESE COMMUNIST GROUND THREAT AGAINST INDIA FROM TIBET AND SINKIANG
Submitted by Ibe DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
ec in by the UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOAKD
mil >iia ioii
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
SUBJECT: CHINESE COMMUNIST GROUND THREAT AGAINST INDIA FROM TIBET
The object of this study Is to examine the offensive capabilities3 of CooBunlit China's ground forces against India and the Himalayan border states. This study does not consider attacks that might be launched by Chinese forces through Bum. It does not estimate Chinesest Intentions.
A. Chinese ComnuniBt forces presently in the Sino-Indlen border area consistivisions, II separate combatorderregiments, and administrative and support troops totalingan. ajor offensive effort against India, as specified in E, vould require the redeployment of additional divisions from elsewhere, which tha Chinese could do vithout seriously Jeopardising their overall military posture. (Para. 2)
dialed from automatic downgrading and declassification
E. Supplies for Chinese Cocxaunlst military forces ln southwest Sinklang and Tibet are transported by road from rail-served base depots at Chengtu ln Sxechwan; Laachou, end Halatung ln Kansu; and in the vicinity of Urumchl in Sinklang. Froa these railheads supplies are moved into tbe frontier area by motor transport over long ami difficult routes, rangingiles, thus limiting the quantities of supplies which can be delivered.
estimate that tbe Chinese could deliver an average ofper day to Tibet and southwest Sinklang; thla operation wouldaOjOOO trucks. This rate of delivery, assuming the establishment
of substantial reaervee ln the forward areas, would be sufficientontinuing basis to satisfy tbe dally resupply requirements ofombat and service troops. Ofaximum ofould be supported loglatically in almultaneouB attacka. Wehowever, that ln the feasible avenues of attack operational and logistic limitations are such that tbe Chlneae wouldorce en the orderan. Tbe tonnageons per day also could support air operations consumingons dally. Thla maximum support effort would tax China's motor transport capabilities and would resulteavy drain on POL supplies. )
believe that tha main threat to India and thestates would be limited to simltaneous attacks in Ladakb, through
the border passes between Lsdakh end Nepal, Into Nepal, into northern Assam ecroes Bhutan, and into the Northeast Frontier Agency (SETA). We estimate the forces that could be employed and supported in these attacksight infantry divisions,ndependent infantry regiments,irborne battalionsroops.
I. Wsostimate that tha Chinese, should they launch the attacks described above, would have the following military objectives:
Ladalch, to extend Chinese control to Include thetne Important center of Leh.
tbe border area between Ladskh and Nepal, to seizeterritorial claim north of Joshlmath.
e. In Nepal, to seize the major valley approaches and tbe city 'of Katmandu.
d. In the east, to occupy NEFA and that pert of Assam north of the Brahmaputra River bytrong lodgement ln the Oauhatl area. )
J, The next favorable periods for offensive operations begin in May for the avenues of approach on the frontier west of Katmandu and in September for the avenues oast of Katmandu. )
1. illion men the Chinese Communist Army is the largest in tbe world, and has been able, under certain circumstances, to field an
believe are causing the Chinese Communist leaders concern as to tbe ability of their armed forces adequately to aupport China'a foreign policies. now virtually without supply and support from tha USSR, obsolescence and wear and tear hareecline ln the effectiveness of tbe armed forces' equipment and weapons. We believe that China's industry cannot produce enough of the heavier and more complex equipmentnotably aircraft and naval ahlpa and possibly armored fighting vehiclesto maintain present equipment levels. Peiping also probably sees several aituations, into the border dispute with India, which may require the commitment of military forces: the situations ln Laos, Vietnam, tha Taiwan Strait, and North Korea. Even tbe Sino-Soviet dispute will probably place additional limitations on Chinese military capabilities through further reetrlctlon of supply of essential materials and the poasible need to watch over the long Sino-Soviet border more closely than to date.
2. China's troop dispositions are directed toward coastal and border defense. econdary mission for all units la internal security, and, in
some areas such aa Tibet, this function has been the main occupation of the units stationed there. The Chinese noworceen in Tibet and southwest Sinklangnfantry divisions,eparate combat regiments,order defense regiments. ajor offensive effort against India would require tbe employment of addltoaal divisions. These could, under present circumstances, be drawn from the estimatedn reserve in north, east, and central China to reinforce the frontier area without seriously Jeopardizing China's overall defense posture.
3. Supplies for Chinese Communist military forces in southwest Sinklang and Tibet are transported by road over distances rangingiles from rail-served base depots at Cbengtu in Szechwan; Lancbou, and Eaiatung ln Kansu; and in the vicinity of Urumchi in Sinklang. The facilities at these railheads are capable of handling the supplyof the maximum forces deployable in the Sino-Indian border area.
rom tbe Cbengtu transshipment point supplies are delivered to the Changtu-Psagtavia tbe Szechwan-Tibet highway for distribution to forces located in eastern Tibet and along the frontier from Lima vest
l/ The Chinese Ceennunlst "army" resembles inS corps, its basic tactical components consisting of three infantry divisions.
to Kilin. From Lanchou and Hsiatuag supplies are moved over the TBlnghai-Tibet road to the Nagehhu Dzong and yangpachlng distribution depots serving west, central, and southern Tibet. From the Uruschi railhead goods move by roadupply base at Kashgar and from there to units in the iarkand and ladakb areas. The Kashgar base probably also gives some support to troops located In extreme weatem Tibet.
Under optimumotalons per day could bethe military subdlstricts In southwest Sinklang ond Tibet. This tonnage, however, is unlikely to be achieved during all periods of the year because of climatic factors. Therefore, lt Is estimated that the maximum sustained tonnage deliverable to supply distribution points In Tibet and southwest Sinklang Is an averageO0 tons per day. The attacks described in this study would tax China's motor transportand would resulteavy, although not insupportable, drain on POL supplies. The delivery of tonnages to support these operations over the periodear would requirerucks andons of motor gasoline,ercent of the total motor gasoline available ln all of China An effort of this sizecould not ba supported if China were involved in significant mill-tery activity elsewhere.
This rata of delivery, assuming tbe establishment of substantial combat reserves in the forward areas. Is sufficientontinuing basis
to satisfy tbe daily resupply requirements ofombat and service troops. Ofaxioum ofen could be supported logistically in simultaneous attacks. However, we believe that the operational and logistic limitations encountered in feasible avenues of attack are such that the Chinese wouldorce on the orderen. In addition to meeting the above ground force needs, theons per day also could support air0 tons daily. s
7. Although severe winter weather is an important factor in the conduct of military operations along the Slno-Indlan border, lowand snow in themselves are unlikely completely to prohibit activity. More serious problems ariBe from melting snow and ice and heavierin spring and summer. Mid-October to mid-December is the mostperiod for operations all along the border and road conditions will be at their maximum capacity during this time of the year, although ln the western segment of the frontier as far east as Nepal, favorable conditions may begin as early as May, but usually later.
6> In tha western half of the frontier, which encompasses Ladakh, tne high central Tibetan plateau and most of Nepal, April and May is a
difficult season because melting snows make streams unfordable sod flat-floored valleys are often flooded. Tbe summer ln this sector ln generally favorable for operations except in Repel, where heavy rains from the southwest moneoon cause landslides and swollen streams particularly along the dccosb routes from India. From December to March temperatures are severely low and winds, occasionally reaching gale force, not only make the cold OATleult to endure but also fill tbe air with fine penetrating dust. Snowstorms and blizxards are frequent, especially In the mountains.
9- In the eastern segment of the frontier, extending from eastern Nepal through Slkkim, Bhutan, and tha Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA) and including Lhasa to the northarrow belt of tha Brahmaputra River Valley to the south, road conditions during the spring months of April and May will he only fair. Flooding, unTordable streams, andmay obstruct routes for short periods. June to September are the worst months for operations in the eastern segment of the frontier; roads ln tbe Brahmaputra River Valley end in the Lhaaa area may be flooded. In NEFA, particularly in the eaatern part, road capacities are reducedinimum during the southwest monsoon season.
IV. MILITARY. CPERATICriS
10. In the Himalayan region the physiographic effecta on military operations are enormous, and the harsh environment requires modifications
In organization, equipment, and tactics. Tha use of trucks, armor, and artillery is Halted by the inadequate road network. Maintenance problems are also increased. Troops tire easily, combat loads must be reduced, and dally march times and distances must be shortened. Animal transport and porters are relied upon heavily.
movements require more detailed preparations thanlower altitudes, fleeonnalesanee and security on the marchattention. Tactical operations will rarely take place at an echelon
above that of'the regiment. The regiment and the battalion are the units usually employedingle axisingle tactical objective. Operations are characterized by infiltration, ambushes, and envelopments.
believe the standard organization of the Chinese Cotanunistdivision haB been modified to conform to the decentralizedrequirements of mountain operations. During the recentthe border tha Chinesemmm mountain guns,rifles. The largest artillery piece likely to beof the Himalayas isax howitzer. Although tanks havein Ladakh and in the Chumbi Valley, there is no evidence that
the Chinese have large numbers of tanks in Tibet. Ve believe that only in southern Slkkim could tanks be employed ln other than an assault gun and artillery role. It would be extremely difficult for the Chinese to move moreew tanks on to the Indian plain.
13- The Chine Be hereHalted capability to employ airborne forces. We estimate that not More than tvo battalions could be dropped in support of the actions described beloviven time. Airborne troops could be staged at airfields at Kashgar, Eotlenocba, Kaarhou, Chengtu, and Kunming.
AVENUES Cf ATTACK
We believe that, in tha most feasible avenues oforceCO Ban, consistingight infantry divisions,nfantry regiments,irborne battalions, could be employed. Difficulties of logistics end restrictions of terrain, ve believe, would limit the Chinese to the following major military objectives:
a* In Ladakh, aa extension of Chinese control to Include the capture of the important cocsnnnlcatlons center and air bete at Lab.
the border area between Ladakh and Nepal, to seiseterritorial claim north of Joshiaath which would be athreat to Hew Delhi.
Nepal, to facilitate the eventual occupation of theby seizure of the major valley approaches and the capture of theKatmandu in order to forestall Indian intervention.
d. In tbe East, the effective occupation of tbe NEFA and that part of Aseac north of tbe Brahmaputra River.
15' Io Ladakh the Chlneae Cccmjunlstsoad fron Sinklang Fron this road, they haveumber of feeder roade, including one in the vest that roughly parallels tbe main road, vhlch.the movement of troops and supplies to outposts. Generally tbe valleys provide natural roadbeds that require little construction or maintenance to be made usable for motor transport. The approach routes from Ladakh converge on Leh across the Karakoram and Ladakh Ranges; through the Basereet) to Panamik from tbe north and via Chushul and Shyok from the southeast. Of these, theotorable route, is by far the more favorable avenue of approach. From Leh the road tviata across tvo great nountain ranges to Srlnagar, the major Indian military base In Kashmir.
16. The road network leading from Sinklang and western Tibet into Ladakh will support an estimated seven light infantry divisions. This capability exists for operations within northern and eastern Ladakh and north of tha frontier; for operations further south, however, this support capability drops as motorable roads give way to pack trails.
17- The Chinese could launch the following attacks In the Ladakh
infantry regiment could move from Daulat 3egthe Saser Pass to0ut since the passfrom December to May, the resupply of this regiment duringmontEs would have to be accomplished by airdrop or by road
sufficient engineer support for road improvement,infantry division could be supported from the Chushul area, withadvancing to0 miles)egiment supporting thethe north on Panamik by advancing up the Shyok River Valley toof0 miles).
of logistic limitations and the need to improveas they advance, Chinese military objectives would probablyto an extension of their control of the Ladakh area to includeof the key ccwniini cations center of Leh.
The Border Passes Between Ladakh and Kepal
16. Along the border between the Chushul area in southern Ladakh and Nepal there are several passes through which Chinese forces could
attack. Of those, the best avenues of approach, although they are narrow defiles subject to blockage by snow during the winter months, are through Shipkianeltl Peasnd Lipulekeet).
After May, two infantry regiments could be supported in and advance through Shipki Paaa to the vicinity ofiles). Not more than three regiments could be moved through Mano and Nlti Passes to Joshlmath- (approximatelynd two regiments through Lipulek Paaa to the general area ofiles). Advances beyond Chini, Joehlnath, and Dharchula could not he legist lea Uy aupported until the Chinese had improved the existing trails to accomodate one-quarter-ton vehicles. Further, we believe that tbe Chinese would be unable to re-supply by air during the winter months, end the reglmenta would be forced to withdraw north of the pasaea.
The Chinese have good lateral communications along the entire frontier on the Shlgatse (Zhikatse)-Gertok rood. They have built feeder roads toward the major peases and trails lead from these roads through all tbe passes, many of which are open for much of the winter.
Zf tbe Chinese could salts the Katmandu airfield, they could then airland upightly-equipped infantry divisionays.
We estimate that by extensive utilization Df pack anionIs and porters the Chinese could support attacks by one infantry regiment through each of the following passes: through Norelagns Pass to Bojang; through Kore Pass to Dana; through Kyirong Pass to Nawekot; through Kodarl Pass to Dhulikhol; and through Rakha Pass to Dingla.
22. The tenure of even limited Chinese forces in northern Nepal would be largely dependent on stockpiling and their ability to sustain
porterage operations through the northern passes in winter. We estimate
that they could not attack India through Nepal. The Slkklm Area
23< There are two converging avenues of approach from the Chumbl Valley through Sikkim to Siliguri. otorable road, leads through Hatu Paaseet) via Cengtok; the other, an unimproved road, crosses the frontier through Jelep Pass joining the former road near Ksllmpong.
24. We estimate that tha Chinese could attack through the Natu end Jelap Pesses with two light infantry divisions and advance to* miles) without improving the roads. If the road capacities between the frontier and Gangtok were increased, which would require anootalight infantry divisionstandarddivisions with armor could be supported in an advance to Siliguri
ies free the frontier). The Chinese could oaks an enveloping movement around the established Indian defensive positions in Sikkim by making an initial attack in not sore than regimental strength down the difficult Torsa River Valley which generally parallels the Bhutan-Sikkim border.
25. XSgIatic support of larger Chinese forces required to hold the exposed Siliguri position during the winter months would be extremely difficult? Unless stocks of supplies were captured or airfields secured to support airlifteduction in strength to not more than one division would be necessary and its withdrawal to the Darjeeling area would be required.
26. Western Bhutan. An undeveloped trail goes from Pari Dxong in Tibet through western Bhutan and joins the road connecting Paro Dcong to Hssioara. We estimate that the Chinese could advance to Paro Diong with one division without Improving the trail. If the trail were improved to permit the movement of vehicles, this division could be supported in an advance to Basinara. Overland logistic support of this division in the Hasimara area during the winter would be possible providedwere carried out promptly.
27- Eastern Bhutan and Western KSFA. There are two converging routes which cross Bhutan and form an approach to Assam: one from Lhakhang Dzong to Gauhati via Lhuntsl Drong and Dewanglri; the other froa Baa La to Gauhatl via Towang, Tashlgang Dzong, and Dewanglri.
26. Id an advance through Bhutan the Chlneee initially could2 Infantry regiments at Toshlgangnfantry regiments st Lhuntsliles). After road improvements, the Chinese couldight Infantry divisions within Bhutan, or could advance to Gauhatimiles) with ativisions.
29. jH-northwest NEJA thereotorable road which connects Bum La with Texpur and which passes through Towang and Bomdi La. We estimate that, if Ihe Chinese were to attack from Bum La to Bomdiiles) they could support two light infantry divisions at Bomdi La and advance with one of these divisions to Tezpur.
Central and Eastern KSFA. There are two avenues of approach across the McMahon Line into BETA: in central KETA from the border village of Longju south through the Subaaalri River Valley; and in eastern KETA from Lima through the Luhit River Valley via Walong.
A penetration from Longju would be restrictedistance over which porter supply lines could be operated. stimate that,aximum, the Chinese could support two regiments via tracks in the Subansiri River Valley up tor Uo miles south of the border. In an attack from Lias the Chinese could initially support on attack by one light infantry division in tbe Luhit River Valley as far west as Tepang. Subsequent to the developmentoad to Tepang, which would require an
oeeks, the Chinese could support upight infantry divisions in this area and advance to Balsmaghani, approximatelyiles west of Tepangf these divisions.
32. It is estimated that the Chinese would he unable by direct delivery from the Lhasa erea or by redistribution of surplus supplies from Ladakhiano eastern Tibet to stockpile sufficient amounts of military stores to support simultaneous advances to Siligurl-Hasicara. and Gouhati end TezpurT An attack through Sikkim and Bhutan to Siliguri and Basimara. included in theforce levelroopa, we believe is The establishmenttrong salient in the Gauheti area,in the force level, would achieve virtually the same objective and would be easier to Belie, less exposed to counterattack, and easier to sustain.
ESTIMATED PERSONNEL AND MATERIEL OF TIE CHINESE COMMUNISTIVISIOH (LIGHT) AND THE INDEPENDENT INFANTRY REGIMENT AS FOUND IN
DAILY RES'JPFLY REQUIEFM5.T3 for THETAMTHr division (STANDARDEE INFANTRY DIVISION (LIGHT) AND THEINFANTRY RECIMEICi'
OTANTHr DIVISION (STANDARD)E)
(General Supplies) Class iii (POL)Annuel*.lea)
mh;imvm (static, no action)
Rations) Class II ft IV
(General Supplies) Class in (POL)
HINIMUK (patrol actions only)
nil (pack animals and porters
The supply re quireaecte are baaed oc the most likely emplcyaent of unitB. The standard division, we estincte, vould be used only when terrain the employment of armor and medium artillery. The supplyfor the light division and independent infantry regiment are baaedonsumption rates for mountain fighting.
(Table continued next page)
Table II (continued)
deephcjehi ikfaicry. HEci>crircaeJ
(General .Supplies) Class HI (POL)
MAXIMUM (continuous light conbat)
(patrol actions salyj
nil (pack anisals and porters only) .6
note: All figures are expressed in short tons.
J/bl". 3Original document.