Fighting the Elements: Assessing a Sino-Indian Conflict at Doklam

Abstract

Tensions remain high between India and China over territorial control of the Doklam Plateau. What arc would a military confrontation over this territory follow? I analyze the capabilities and doctrines of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China and the Indian Army to establish a likely scenario for military confrontation and discuss challenges posed by the high-altitude, mountainous area of operations. I identify a plausible scenario in which China tries to create a locally-favorable balance of forces on the plateau in order to build new infrastruture without Indian interference. For this scenario, under some simplifying assumptions, I find that the PLA will be able to put multiple infantry brigades on the plateau before Indian troops can acclimatize and re-establish parity.

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