This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The war that wasn’t
’Army was unable to gauge the depth of the situation’
One of the biggest challenges during Operation Parakram was to restrain the three service chiefs who wanted to have a crack at Pakistan in the aftermath of the attack on Parliament in December 2001,former external affairs minister and senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh has written in a new book.
Singh,who was in the thick of things as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security,has written that India had three aims in mobilising the army to the border defeating cross border terrorism without conflict,containing the national mood to teach Pak a lesson and in the case of war,degrading the neighbouring nations war fighting capabilities.
Identifying internal challenge during the operations as the most difficult,Singh has said that the service chiefs had to be convinced that restrain was a strategic asset. The chiefs so wanted a chance,to have a crack as the military would put it I had not only to persuade but also convince them otherwise, Singh has written in his new book India at Risk.
The book captures Singhs views and personal experiences on most matters relating to national security that the nation has faced since Independence. It borrows extensively from his experience as a cabinet minister in the NDA government and identifies mistakes,misconceptions and misadventures of security policy.
In a chapter that includes recollections about the Kargil war,he recalls how in the initial days the army was unable to gauge the depth of the situation,believing it to be an attack by irregulars and terrorists. Singh says that initially,he was against the use of the air force to evict the infiltrators as it would escalate the conflict and the loss of an aircraft would become an issue that catches the public eye.
Operation Parakram in 2001 was the most punishing mistake for the Armed Forces,former Navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar said
Operation Parakram in 2001 was the most punishing mistake for the Armed Forces,former Navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar said on Friday,maintaining the government then lacked any political aim or objective for deploying the Army along the Indo-Pakistan border.
There was no aim or military objective for the Operation Parakram… I dont mind admitting that Operation Parakram was the most punishing mistake for the Indian Armed Forces, Kumar said here,addressing a seminar on Limited wars in South Asia-Against a nuclear background.
Operation Parakram,the 11-month-long border stand-off,took place soon after the December 13,2001 terror attack on Parliament.
When the Parliament strike took place,in the (CCS) board room it was super charged atmosphere,as you are aware in the CCS board room,the three Services chiefs sit opposite the Cabinet. In the end,Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee turned to me and said aap khush nahi lag rahen hain,Admiral sahab (You don’t seem to be happy).
I said I beg your pardon,sir,can you give us what is your political aim,we need to derive a military aim from it. That is the whole principle of war. What is the aim,you need an aim and military objective. Operation Parakram was the most punishing mistake for the Indian Armed Forces…, he said.
Kumar also said China and not Pakistan is the biggest problem for India.
China is our biggest problem,not Pakistan. But the whole target seems to be hovering around Pakistan…. God forbid,if we have to try Op Parakram against the Chinese, he said.
Losing soldiers without fighting a war
NEW DELHI: The Kargil conflict led to the death of 527 Indian soldiers while heroically taking back heights occupied by Pakistanis in 1999. Shockingly, without going to war, 798 soldiers have been killed during Operation Parakram.
"During Operation Parakram up to July 2003, a total number of 798 Army personnel suffered fatal casualties," said Defence Minister George Fernandes in Lok Sabha on Thursday.
It was in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Parliament that Operation Parakram began in December 2001, with offensive and defensive formations of the Army being mobilised along the Indo-Pak border.
"The government later decided, in October 2002, to strategically redeploy the troops under Operation Parakram, with the objective to respond aggressively and decisively to any emergency on the International Border," said Fernandes.
"The expenditure incurred on mobilisation and present redeployment of troops under Operation Parakram can be assessed only after the redeployment is complete," he added.
In the initial phase of Operation Parakram itself, around 100 soldiers were killed and 250 injured during mine-laying operations. Vehicle accidents, artillery duels with Pakistan and other incidents led to many more casualties.
India suffered 1,874 casualties without fighting a war
NEW DELHI: The life of an Indian Army soldier comes cheap. The US-led coalition forces lost just around 150 personnel during the recent Iraq operations. In sharp contrast, and without going to war, almost 2,000 Indian Army soldiers were killed or wounded during the 10-month forward deployment along the Indo-Pak border last year.
"What else do you expect? We have to soldier on without even basic necessities like decent helmets, proper webbing or bullet-proof jackets. Many accidents during the mobilisation were due to the poor quality of mines and fuses," retorted an angry young Major.
Usually extremely tight-lipped about casualty figures, the defence ministry had to disclose them in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday in response to a question.
"The number of Army personnel killed or wounded in Jammu and Kashmir and the western sector during the mobilisation, Operation Parakram, from December 19, 2001 to October 16, 2002, was 1,874," said Defence Minister George Fernandes.
This, by any benchmark, is a truly staggering figure for a 10-month period, even if the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir are taken into account.
In the initial phase of Operation Parakram itself, after the December 2001 Parliament attack, over 100 soldiers were killed and 250 injured during mine-laying operations. Vehicle accidents, artillery duels with Pakistan and other incidents led to many more casualties.
Relentless counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir are also, of course, exacting a heavy toll on the soldiers, with over 1,000 being killed in terrorist activity in the last three years.
The government, however, continues to sleep. Battling extremely well-equipped terrorists, soldiers face a crippling shortage of bullet-proof jackets, night-vision devices, communication sets, sensors and other equipment which can make their gruelling jobs much easier.
Take bullet-proof jackets, for instance. Only 1.24 lakh jackets are available when 3.53 lakh jackets are required for troops operating in counter-insurgency duties and along the Line of Control.
"Sometimes, our jawans are reduced to swiping bullet-proof jackets and assault rifles from slain terrorists for personal use. The bullet-proof jackets provided to us are bulky and restrict mobility," said an officer, who has done stints in the Valley.