NEW DELHI: While rival soldiers are close enough to literally smell each other in the rarefied air of the high-altitude region at Doklam, the Indian security establishment is reasonably sure China will not take the risk of a war or even a small scale military operation against India.

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While the “face-saving” workable option for both India and China is to withdraw their troops from the Bhutanese territory of Doklam at the same time, if it comes down to a skirmish or a battle, the Indian army is strategically well positioned with “fully acclimated troops” and “and enhanced border management system” to prevent any attempts by the People’s Liberation Army.

Even though “Both countries do not want a conflict”, a tactical operation by the Chinese border guards and PLA to construct a motorable road at Dokhlam (physically blocked by the Indian soldiers on June 18) was not successful, leading to a strategic fall out. 

China is yet to sound placatory, at least in its public stance, and as a consequence, the 7th edition of “Hand-in-Hand” exercises held in China between the Indian Army and PLA are expected to be among the “casualties”, with the initial planning conference, still not having taken place despite reminders. 

In Doklam, at over 11,000 feet,  the troops from both sides continue to be ranged against each other, having built makeshift defences after pitching earlier tents and establishing logistical supply lines, despite the 150 meters of Concertina wire coils separating them. 

"The Chinese troops at the faceoff site are backed by around 1,500 PLA soldiers in three layers towards the rear. There are some verbal and loudspeaker exchanges but in a non-aggressive manner," said the security forces.

Accidental escalation, however, remains a big worry. Indian Army formations in the region, including the 17 (Gangtok), 20 (Binnaguri) and 27 (Kalimpong) Mountain Divisions (each with over 10,000 soldiers), continue to be in a high state of operational readiness.