December 2022 Tawang clash: US intelligence helped India thwart China’s LAC land-grab attempt, report says

Team India Sentinels Thursday 23rd of March 2023 09:36 PM

An Indian Army artillery position near the LAC in the Tawang sector.

New Delhi: An American news outlet has reported that the United States provided India with real-time intelligence which enabled the Indian Army to thwart China’s People’s Liberation Army to unilaterally alter the status quo at the line of actual control near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh last December. It may be recalled that Indian media, including India Sentinels, reported widely about the clash that took place on December 9, 2022, in which the Indian troops were able to repel the Chinese land-grab attempt.

According to a US News March 20 report citing an unnamed source familiar with a previously unreported American intelligence review of the Tawang encounter, the US government provided real-time details to the Indian government of the Chinese positions and force strength in advance of the PLA incursion at the Yangtse sector in the Tawang region. The report cited the source as saying that the information included “actionable satellite imagery” and was “more detailed and delivered more quickly than anything the US had previously shared with the Indian military”.

This enabled the Indian troops to ready themselves before the PLA attempted the incursion. They identified the PLA’s positions using the US-provided intelligence and beat them back successfully. This was in stark contrast to the 2020 clash in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan valley, where 20 Indian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed and nearly a 100 injured and dozens taken prisoners by the PLA. In that clash, China sustained an unknown number of casualties, although Indian troops captured no Chinese soldiers.

The report quoted the source as saying: “They were waiting. And that’s because the US had given India everything to be fully prepared for this. It demonstrates a test case of the success of how the two militaries are now cooperating and sharing intelligence.”

Read also:

Indian and Chinese troops clash at LAC near Tawang

Rajnath says China unilaterally tried to change status quo near Tawang

The report claims that the source’s story has been corroborated by “several current and former analysts and officials, some speaking on the condition of anonymity.”

The report also says the real-time intelligence sharing was possible because New Delhi and Washington, DC had signed an agreement called Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation (BECA), in 2020. However, it is still unknown how the agreement is making a difference on the ground when it comes to such actionable intelligence sharing. Nonetheless, experts say without the BECA agreement, the US government would have not shared such information with its Indian counterparts.

China, which has a long-standing border dispute with India and several maritime disputes with several Southeast Asian nations and Japan, is wary of the increasing military and strategic cooperation between India and the US. In December 2022, Beijing raised an objection when India and the US held a joint army drill in Uttarakhand’s Auli, which is barely 100 kilometres from the LAC in the middle sector.

Read also: China objects to India-US drill near LAC, New Delhi shows mirror to Beijing

Neither the US nor the Indian government have come out with an official comment on the US News report on the purported intelligence sharing before the Tawang clash between the two countries yet.


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