ASAL UTTAR 1965 - TURN OF THE TIDE BACKGROUND : The 1960s began a difficult decade for India.The euphoria of independence was fading,the economy was shaky,there was a food crisis,the morale of the Indian army had taken a beating after the humiliation of 1962 against China.Nehru had breathed his last in 1964 and his successor -the diminutive Lal Bahadur Shastri was viewed as a compromise candidate ,perhaps even a weak one.Indian legislations to integrate Kashmir constitutionally put political pressure on the Ayub Khan military government.To Pakistani strategic planners the time must have seemed ripe for a military solution to enforce their geopolitical ambitions. Pakistan had since 1958 been an US ally in CENTO and recieved over 1.2 billion dollars worth of military aid in equipment and money.This had bolstered the strength of the Pakistani armed forces to very impressive levels ,bristling as it was by 1965 with hundreds of the latest Patton tanks,Sabre jets and 155 mm artillery guns.The Indian army expansion and reorganization begun after 1962 was still in transition,and while the modernization process was incomplete pakistan held a decided advantage .Pakistan had to strike before the Indians could catch up while it still had the chance to impose a decisive victory on her rival.Zulfiqar Bhutto,advisor to Ayub Khan and later PM summed up the situation as the - ''Last chance to take Kashmir by force''. (Pakistan's Grand Strategy) Failure of Operation Gibraltar - Pakistan tested Indian resolve and its new weapons by probing constantly in the disputed Rann of Kutch area in repeated skirmishes during April 1965 ,this dispute was eventually settled by British mediation. Emboldened by its performance in the Rann of Kutch,from early August Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar - thousands of pakistani soldiers and Commandoes infiltrated into Kashmir with the object of inciting a general uprising amongst the kashmiri population.It was believed the Indian Army would not cross the ceasefire line and merely defend itself.In the event it failed miserably,as locals informed the Indian army of the intruders which acted swiftly to contain them.In a daring attack the Indians crossed the ceasefire line took Haji Pir Pass -the main entry point of the infiltrators.Faced with a huge loss of face , Ayub unleashed his main conventional strategic scheme -Operation Grand Slam with the confident prediction - ''Hindu morale will not stand a couple of hard blows at the right time and place''. (Pakistan's assault - Chamb Sector) Operation Grand Slam - Pakistan launched a massive combined armour-infantry assault in Chamb sector aimed at capturing the bridge at Akhnoor - the only all-weather lifeline of India's main Infantry division in J & K (with 20 battalions) and then used as a staging point for the capture of Jammu,the main communications and logistics hub connecting India with Kashmir.The meagre indian force holding Chamb consisted of 4 infantry battalions and 1 light tank squadron of amx-13s.These faced a a pakistani assault of 8.5 infantry battalions as well as 2 armoured regiments( equipped with pattons which couldn't be penetrated by the AMX tanks )with a pakistani local superiority of 2:1 in infantry,6:1 in armour and 6:1 in artillery. (I Corps counterattack in Sialkot sector) I Corps Offensive - Sorely pressed and on the verge of collapse at Akhnoor,India responded by crossing the International Border and launching its own offensive spearheaded by I corps in the Sialkot sector aimed at relieving the pressure on Akhnoor, carrying the war into the Pakistani heartland of Punjab and threatening Sialkot and Lahore, which would force Pakistan to divert its forces.In this it was succesful,as pressure soon slackened on Akhnoor which was held succesfully.As can be seen on the above map Pakistan's great advantage in 1965 was that it possesed 2 large scale offensive maneuvre assets in 6th and 1st Armoured division.the 6th was facing the Indian offensive in Sialkot which contained India's sole I Armoured division.Despite possesing a large overall numerical superiority in Infantry,in the actual battlespace this was reduced to near parity because as many as 38 battalions were tied up in Kashmir and several forces were on the China border. (Indian XI corps Limited Offensive) XI Corps Offensive - Even before I corps launched its offensive in Sialkot sector,Indian XI corps launched a limited attack on 6th September on the Lahore-Amritsar axis.This formation composed of the 15th ,7th and 4th Infantry divisions launched a three-pronged attack aimed at establishing a forward defensive line on what was ironically considered Pakistan's great defensive asset in Punjab -the Ichogil Canal.This would capture useful territory which could be used as a bargaining tool later,as well as secure a strong defensive line for the Indian infantry against pakistani armoured attack on the canal line.It would also set up a staging area for a possible later offensive towards Lahore by 15 division in conjunction with the Northern offensive by I corps. XI corps expected to be faced by two pakistani infantry divisions - 10th and the newly raised 11th . Unknown to them, the crack pakistani 1st armoured division was waiting for them (its exact location being not known to Indian intelligence) The axis of attacks were - 15th Infantry Division along the GT road on Amritsar-Lahore axis. 7th Infantry Division along Khalra-Barki-Bhikkiwind Axis 4th Mountain Division along Khemkaran -Kasur Axis. The only reserve possesed by XI corps was the 2nd Independent Armoured Brigade near Amritsar.This formation was composed of 2 armoured regiments -3rd Cavalry and 8 Cavalry(equipped with AMX-13) . The former was the only Indian armoured formation in the sector equipped with Centurion tanks -the one Indian tank capable of going toe to toe with Pattons.India in 1965 had only 4 regiments of Centurions,and 3 of those were in 1st Armoured division(initially all 4) in Sialkot sector.Indian HQ recognizing AMX equipped brigade wouldn't be combat effective against pattons had reinforced 2nd Armoured Brigade on the eve of the war by transfering one of the four centurion regiments from 1st armoured division in the form of 3rd Cavalry.This proved to be a far-sighted decision.