Discussion in 'Military History' started by A.V., Mar 24, 2009.
^^^ Bro can you introduce in the members introduction section
Remember an year before the Kargil fiasco both the countries had exploded their nukes. The escalation of the situation would have resulted in Pakistani insecurity. The guys there with their itchy fingers would have pressed the trigger. Bill Clinton also told hat his intelligence reports had suggested that the Pakistanis were loading their nukes onto their delivery systems. A nuclear war will be the last ting that South Asia would wanna see.
that was the american way of telling india to stop the war.as for pakistan with all bombast i think they are still wise enough not get annhilated.remember how the US fooled UN to start the iraq war.but yes india would not have liked to escalate in its own interest(read economy).
That was told by the then Sec. of state after elections.
so?point i am making is US can manufacture anything to scare away when its interests are at stake.it was highly unlikely 'cos of the costs involved for pakistan not just from india but all across.
We bought 200 NKorean missiles to fight Kargil war: Khan
Pakistan's nuclear scientist A Q Khan has said that Sri Lankan Muslims based in Dubai [ Images ] were suppliers of nuclear material and equipments not only to Pakistan but also to Iran and Libya.
'Be it Libya, Iran, or Pakistan, the same suppliers were responsible for providing the material through the same third party in Dubai,' Khan has revealed in an interview to a Pakistani news channel.
'It was a company with which we had established links when we could not receive the material from Europe. They were Sri Lankan Muslims,' Khan said in his interview in Urdu, aired in Karachi on August 31.
The Directorate of National Intelligence's Open Source Centre translated the interview into English, which has not been made public yet. However, a copy of it was obtained by the Secrecy News of the Federation of American Students.
Giving an interesting insight into acquiring of nuclear technology by Iran, he said, 'The Iranian officials would meet (suppliers) them in Dubai. We had told the Iranians that the suppliers were very reliable."
Noting that Iran was interested in acquiring nuclear technology, Khan said, 'Since Iran was an important Muslim country, we wished Iran to acquire this technology. Western countries pressured us unfairly.'
'If Iran succeeds in acquiring nuclear technology, we will be a strong bloc in the region to counter international pressure. Iran's nuclear capability will neutralize Israel's power. We had advised Iran to contact the suppliers and purchase equipment from them.'
Denying that Pakistan did not transfer any nuclear technology to North Korea in exchange of the missile technology, Khan, however, refrained from making any comment on the accusation that he transferred nuclear technology to North Korea. He did concede though that he went to North Korea twice in 1994 and 1999.
'In 1999, Gen Musharraf sent me along with Gen Iftikhar, who was the then chief of Air Defense Command. We were fighting India at Kargil [ Images ], and we were in dire need of anti-aircraft missiles. Musharraf said we could purchase the missiles from North Korea. We went to North Korea and purchased 200 missiles from them.'
He said a North Korean team visited the Kahuta plant during the same period, as the missile deal was taking place. It was no secret, he argued, adding everyone knew about it.
'They would stay at a guest house in the vicinity of Kahuta plant, because we did not have any other nuclear facility and our missiles were also being manufactured there. We did not spend any additional amount on the missile programme,' he said.
'The expense that was incurred on the missile program was that of the construction of prefabricated shades, which we would use in those missiles, and purchase of a few machines.'
'The North Korean engineers would visit our director generals in their departments to observe different operations. But nuclear technology cannot be learned by visiting a nuclear site and observing a few machines,' he said
Kargil: Whose war was that?
By C Uday Bhaskar Published : August 2009
New Delhi. July 26 marks 10 years after India won the limited but high-stakes Kargil War initiated by Pakistan. On this day in 1999, the Indian soldiers gave the country a significant victory - albeit at a heavy cost in life, limb and blood. More than 500 military personnel gave their lives and a grateful nation celebrated a Kargil Diwas (Day).
But regrettably a decade later, it is evident that the nation has learnt little by way of imbibing the right lessons. And this is not for lack of clear and objective recommendations based on a careful review of what caused Kargil and what went wrong as far as national security was concerned.
The Kargil Review Committee headed by veteran security analyst K Subrahmanyam produced its report in record time and this was submitted to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government. To its limited credit, the NDA constituted four separate task forces to make tangible recommendations to improve and restructure the following areas: management of the country’s borders; internal security; intelligence gathering capabilities; and defence management.
These reports were then submitted to the NDA government and reviewed by a Group of Ministers. The earnest hope and crying national need was for these recommendations to have been discussed in some detail in parliament so as to obtain consensual political support and then be implemented progressively. The objective ought to have been to prevent another Kargil and create necessary national security capacity from the apex downwards.
Alas, little of the implementation took place during the NDA rule and even less so in the UPA’s first tenure.
Consequently the nation had to face the ignominy of its parliament being attacked by terrorists in December 2001 and seven years later, undergo the trauma of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks - a veritable maritime Kargil.
In the interim, national security has become a political football and it was deplorable that in the run up to the 10th anniversary of the Kargil Diwas, some political representatives actually described this war as belonging to the NDA/ BJP. The martyrs and their families and those wounded in the icy heights of the Kargil-Drass region have been predictably forgotten and ignored.
The lack of adequate capacity for national security - despite the rhetoric that is periodically heard - is best reflected in the kind of time and attention paid to this highest and most sacred national calling in the Indian parliament. In 10 years, there has been no sustained or meaningful debate on the Kargil war and its lessons in any session of parliament.
And to add insult to injury, in the same period, the Ministry of Defence has returned almost Rs.50,000 crore (over $10 billion) as money unspent from the amount allocated for acquisition and modernization of the Indian military inventory. Thus the reality is that in the post- Kargil decade, India’s trans-border military capacity has shrunk – but no one in the political spectrum is particularly concerned.
In this period, the nature of the security challenges facing India has become more complex and tangled and today the external and internal security strands have coalesced into one opaque domain. The country is at war. On paper - in the budget documents - the country allocates over Rs.141,000 crore (nearly $30 billion) towards defence. Yet what is meaningfully spent is lesser and this when the military, para-military and police forces have equipment and related inventory that is veering towards block obsolescence.
Parliamentarians and senior political leaders must take the responsibility for this sorry state of affairs and embark on appropriate redress with purpose. Specific suggestions include convening a full 10-day session of both the houses that will discuss the Kargil recommendations and the GoM reports to evolve an all-party consensus for immediate action.
The Indian military is a credible and highly professional institution and when the chips are down – as they were in Kargil in 1999 – it was the young officers and their committed troops who plucked the chestnuts out of the fire. Ineptitude at the higher levels of national security management is a recurring leit motif from the 1962 war with China through Kargil to the 2008 Mumbai carnage.
Many inadequacies exist in the Indian national security apparatus despite the lessons of Kargil and this is a poor reflection on the Indian entity - both state and empowered civil society.
Parliament ought to demand that the government set up a Blue Ribbon commission that will draw the most eminent and capable national security professionals who have no political axe to grind to carry out an urgent review and outline timebound remedial measures. And to be meaningful and not anodyne, they would have to be radical and far-reaching and not timid and tentative.
Finally, as regards the martyrs - those who died in Kargil for flag and country - and the many more who made the supreme sacrifice before 1999 and after - right into July this year - they warrant a national tribute.
This is not the time to open the arid debate about why the world’s largest democracy does not have a national memorial for its ‘fauj’ but to make a modest suggestion.
Many Western nations who lost their young men in World War I (which incidentally includes India) mark Nov 11 as Poppy Day. A tradition has evolved wherein the common citizen lays a poppy flower on the tomb of the martyrs or pays tribute in a designated public space.
The average Indian need not wait for the state and its political representatives to decide whose war Kargil was. It was fought for India. Period. Thus there may be a case to choose an Indian flower - why not the humble ‘gainda’ (marigold) - and offer it to the unknown and forgotten Indian martyr who willingly shed blood. Local communities can decide how best to remember the martyrs and their families in their midst and let them know that at least once a year.
‘Your sacrifice is not forgotten’. The moment has come for ‘Gainda’ Day to lead the plethora of other dedicated ‘days’ that dot the Indian calendar.
(The author is a well-known strategic analyst and Director of the National Maritime Foundation).
..:: India Strategic ::.. Kargil: Whose war was that?
The Kargil conflict and its Unlearnt Lessons
By Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd) Published : August 2009
New Delhi. Ten years ago, in the summer months of 1999, the Pakistan army had launched an ill-conceived military adventure across the Line of Control (LoC) into the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and had threatened India’s territorial integrity. By infiltrating its soldiers in civilian clothes across the LoC and physically occupying ground on the Indian side, the Pakistan army had added a new dimension to its ongoing ‘proxy war’ against India.
Pakistan’s provocative action compelled India to launch a firm but measured and restrained military operation to clear the intruders. Operation ‘Vijay’ was finely calibrated to limit military action to the Indian side of the LoC and included air strikes from fighter-ground attack (FGA) aircraft and attack helicopters of the Indian Air Force.
Why did Pakistan undertake a military operation that was foredoomed to failure? Clearly, the Pakistani military establishment had become frustrated with India’s success in containing the militancy in J&K to within manageable limits and could not bear to see its strategy of ‘bleeding India through a thousand cuts’ evaporating into thin air. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government appeared to be inclined to accept India’s hand of friendship, in keeping with the mood of popular opinion within Pakistan, and committed itself to opening up trade, liberalising the Visa regime and encouraging people-to-people, cultural and sports contacts.
Though it did not feature in so many words in the Lahore Declaration of February 1999, the acceptance of the concept of the LoC as a permanent border between India and Pakistan was gaining currency.
It was in such a scenario that in an act more of desperation than strategic planning, the Pakistan army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate decided to launch an organised intrusion into the militarily vacant remote areas of the Kargil district to once again to somehow ignite the spark of militancy and gain ascendancy over the Indian security forces. Unfortunately for them, they failed miserably in this endeavour.
The strategic aim of the Pakistan army in engineering these intrusions under the facade of Kashmiri militancy was to provide a fresh impetus to the flagging Jihad and again attempt to focus international attention on the Kashmir issue. In the Dras, Mushko Valley and Kaksar sectors, the military aim was to sever the Srinagar-Leh National Highway (NH) 1A to isolate Kargil district and cut India’s lifeline to Leh, with a view to eventually choking supplies and reinforcements to Indian troops holding the Saltoro Ridge west of the Siachen Glacier.
Another military aim in these sectors was to open up a new route for infiltration over the Amarnath Mountains into the Kashmir Valley and the Doda region south of the Pir Panjal range. In the Batalik and Turtok Valley area, which adjoins the Siachen glacial belt, Pakistan attempted to establish a firm base with a view to eventually advancing along the Shyok Valley to cut the only road link to India’s Siachen Brigade. As an aim plus, the Pakistani army had also planned to physically occupy some territory on the Indian side of the LoC in Kargil district to use as a bargaining counter subsequently, particularly to seek an Indian withdrawal from Siachen Glacier.
The Indian military strategy was to immediately contain and limit the intrusions, prepare for and evict the Pakistani soldiers from the Indian side of the LoC and, finally, enhance surveillance, patrolling and deployment, where necessary, to ensure that the Pakistan army is denied the opportunity to launch such a venture again. The Army Headquarters realised that maximum available firepower would need to be employed, including that of the artillery and the Indian Air Force, by way of coordinated preparatory bombardment to reduce the combat potential of the enemy’s posts and break the enemy’s will to fight before infantry battalions could launch physical assaults to regain each position.
The Indian army launched some of the fiercest attacks in the annals of military history to take back high altitude mountain peaks from the aggressors and was completely unrelenting in its resolve to evict every intruder from the Indian territory. A demoarlised Pakistan army had to even disown its dead soldiers, particularly in the initial stages. Painfully for itself and their families, it refused to take back many bodies.
Facing an impending military defeat, General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan army chief, is said to have pleaded with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, to rush to Washington and request President Bill Clinton of the United States to broker a ceasefire. Pakistan then agreed to pull out its troops from Kargil unconditionally. As a face saving device, Pakistan’s widely anticipated pull back was couched in euphemistic terms. The artillery and the Indian Air Force, by way of coordinated preparatory bombardment to reduce the combat potential of the enemy’s posts and break the enemy’s will to fight before infantry battalions could launch physical assaults to regain each position.
The Indian army launched some of the fiercest attacks in the annals of military history to take back high altitude mountain peaks from the aggressors and was completely unrelenting in its resolve to evict every intruder from the Indian territory. A demoarlised Pakistan army had to even disown its dead soldiers, particularly in the initial stages. Painfully for itself and their families, it refused to take back many bodies.
Facing an impending military defeat, General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan army chief, is said to have pleaded with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, to rush to Washington and request President Bill Clinton of the United States to broker a ceasefire. Pakistan then agreed to pull out its troops from Kargil unconditionally.
As a face saving device, Pakistan’s widely anticipated pull back was couched in euphemistic terms. The Pakistan government announced that it would “appeal to the Kashmiri freedom fighters to pull out from their positions in Kargil,” – the same so-called mujahideen over whom it had repeatedly emphasised that it had no control! On July 26, 1999, the Indian army declared that all Pakistani intruders had been evicted from Kargil district.
Within India, the question arose as to was the country well prepared to face the challenge posed by the Pakistan army in Kargil?
India was prepared in the sense that the army had sufficient reserve battalions and artillery regiments to induct into the Kargil sector to stop further intrusions and, subsequently, to throw the intruders out and hand the Pakistan army yet another ignominious defeat. The air force had adequate combat potential to dominate the skies over Kargil and ensure that the Pakistan air force did not dare to come close to the LoC.
However, a large number of critical components necessary for executing the strategy that had been drawn up were either missing or held in insufficient quantities.
General V P Malik, the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS), had been forced to make a chilling statement on national TV. In answer to a question regarding India’s war preparedness, General Malik had said, “We will make do with what we have.”
Adequacy of weapons now
It is well known that India had to go shopping for 50,000 rounds of Bofors 155mm artillery ammunition from South Africa even as the conflict was still on. If the army had long-range multi-barrelled rocket launchers (MBRLs) in service, it would have been possible to strike at Skardu and Minimarg in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) – the two command and control and logistics hubs of Pakistani forces there.
While Smerch Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRLs) have since been acquired from Russia, it is doubtful whether a sufficient number of 155mm artillery ammunition has been stockpiled as indigenous production has failed to take off. Also, artillery modernisation is at a standstill, as has been reported in these pages several times recently (see India Strategic, June 2009).
During the Kargil conflict the air force had done a creditable job of providing close air support to the army. However, it lacked the ability to strike accurately at narrow mountain ridgelines as it did not have the right precision guided munitions (PGMs). Some ‘dumb’ HE bombs were retrofitted with guidance kits and other innovative methods were used to overcome technological deficiencies, but these were not enough. Only Laser- and TV-guided bombs can provide the necessary accuracy.
Ideally, the IAF should be equipped with a specialised, dedicated ground strike aircraft suitable for the mountains. Such an aircraft would also cost only a fraction of the cost of multi-role aircraft such as Mirage-2000 or the MMRCA that is now being considered. Advanced attack helicopters (AAH), which are light and capable of operating in the Himalayan terrain, can also launch precision strikes and need to be added to the air-to-ground strike arsenal.
India still needs to acquire stateof- the-art military satellites and aerial and ground surveillance systems to guard against repetition of the Kargil intrusion or a similar situation.
There is an immediate need for military satellites with a sub-one metre resolution and multi-spectral (optical, infrared and radar photography) capability, so that they are effective both by day and night.
Satellite surveillance must be beefed up and an acceptable degree of redundancy achieved through the use of unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground surveillance means such as battlefield surveillance radars (BFSRs) and un-attended ground sensors (UGS) in remote areas. Regular army aviation reconnaissance sorties need to be flown to detect intrusions and offensive military activity across the LoC, the AGPL in Siachen and the LAC with China while flying within our own territory.
Electronic surveillance means should be used to gain information about the plans and movement of Pakistan’s regular troops and socalled mujahideen mercenaries who include Pakistani ex-servicemen.
The IAF needs to supplement these efforts through its own reconnaissance flights using long-look optical systems (LLOS), infrared line scan (IRLS) and synthetic aperture radars (SAR). The IAF should acquire additional surveillance assets, where necessary, and should provide independent inputs to a national-level intelligence collection, collation, compilation, analysis, synthesis and dissemination centre.
Quite obviously, humint (human intelligence) means cannot be neglected and need to be appropriately strengthened. Only then will it be possible to develop a comprehensive border surveillance and intelligence acquisition plan to defeat a belligerent adversary’s nefarious designs. A responsive, real-time intelligence dissemination system must be instituted so that the concerned field commanders can be informed well in time to enable them to thwart infiltration and intrusion plans.
The most important lesson that India must learn from the Kargil imbroglio is that the inescapable requirements of national security cannot be compromised. Successive governments in Islamabad have sought with varying degrees of intensity to destabilise India, wreck its unity and challenge its integrity. In international politics, the policy of mutual friendship and co-operation with one's neighbours has to be balanced with vigilance.
A neighbour's capacity to damage one's security interests should never be underestimated, leave alone disregarded.
India must remain on guard against such sinister operations being launched in future by the vengeful and devious military leadership of Pakistan that has an illogical hate- India mindset with the mentality of primitive warlords.
It would be futile to hope that internal instability, international pressure or economic compulsions will dissuade the Pakistaniarmy from embarking on such ventures in future.
The Indian government must tell the Pakistani leadership that there is a limit to India’s patience and tolerance and that India will consider harder options if there is no let-up in the relentless proxy war being waged from across its western border by the Pakistan army and its world-famous, or notorious, sabotage agency the ISI.
The author is Director, Centre for Land and Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi.
(Pics Courtesy : The Author)
..:: India Strategic ::.. The Kargil conflict and its Unlearnt Lessons
Monday, November 16, 2009
Chindits Column: Kargil controversy; the sorry state of higher defence management
Subramanium Committee Presentation was hollow with many self censored omissions and retrospectively perhaps unfairly or may be to shield some. For once I was not reassured by Commodore Jasjit Singh Presentation. The then COAS in his presentation concentrated from the point when the Indian Forces were decisively moving forward. Even the Presentation by the Military Groups who played the Kargil War Games with USA acting as Moderator was not that clear.
I am from the NDA[Navy]. I do not have or should not have any bias for my own service, Navy, or the two other services. I have never understood the air power role the way it is played out by my esteemed brothers from the Air Force though I passed the small courses that one does during the career and also the Staff College. Yes it is also true I never had the experience of an eye ball to eye ball with the other side in the conflict. But two things are crystal clear to me. War is not won unless the Army is in control on the ground. The other is War on Peace that follows the Hot War has to be won by the Army on the Ground which may not come for years or even decades.
I have the following to submit:
A. All the blame lay on the Intelligence failure though may be true was hyped to hide many short comings in the System e.g. Political, Bureaucratic and the Military!
B. Commonsense makes it difficult to accept that the Army Chief was not in the picture though delay in his recall may have some other connotations. But I would like to believe that the delay in response of VCOAS perhaps could be due varied reasons. There was military failure to detect and protect the creep into the our territory. So who should take the can. Seeking Air support perhaps was to gain time.
C. Yes I have heard the very Air Chief you have referred to. There were perhaps two things. One was Air Force had not prepared for this contingency. And obviously it is unlikely the Air Force ever put on record as then they to have to register interim measures. Two. Likely Air Chief was not willing to bail out the Army's slumber. When Air Force had registered and found solutions then only joined the activities.
D. If I remember it was Navy Chief as the Chief of Chiefs Staff Committee. Who ever he was, he played safe. I wonder if CDS would deliver. Has any General so far known to have put in his papers when the minimum he is suppose to have has not been provided.
E. Indian Political and Bureaucratic Hierarchies are never known to invest in National and Military Strategies. The multi-tasked National Security Adviser is to confuse and to diffuse the issues. It should never be one man word in this case that of NSA's. It is an accepted principal of the Indian democracy that absolute power should not be rested on any one individual. The Supreme Court too insists on that practice. National Security Commission should have at least 3 Commissioners under an Act passed by the Parliament like the EC have. Why the CDS cannot have more than one General/Admiral/Air Chief Marshal. It is one point that we are talking about not one man!
G. Why the War Book is in name only. Who keeps it up to date. That may be placed under the CDS/ National Security Commission.
H. Why the War Strategy is not revised every year 5 year along with the 5 Year Plan and duly accepted by the Parliament of the Parliament Defence Committee. That should include visit to the business of Intelligence in all its forms and colours.
The contributor is a serving naval officer, and does not wish to be identified, hence photograph, name etc have been avoided.
Chindits: Chindits Column: Kargil controversy; the sorry state of higher defence management
Kargil Redux : A Senior Pakistani Air Force Officer Accout for PAF's role in Kargil
While the Indians were prompt in setting up an Inquiry Commission into the Kargil fracas, we in Pakistan found it expedient to bury the affair in the ‘national interest’. Compared to the Indians, Pakistani writings on the Kargil conflict have been pathetically few; those that have come out are largely irrelevant and in a few cases, clearly sponsored. The role of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been discussed off and on, but mostly disparagingly, particularly in some uninformed quarters. Here is an airman’s perspective, focusing on the IAF’s air operations and the PAF’s position.
Operational planning in the PAF
Since an important portion of this write-up pertains to the PAF’s appreciation of the situation and the decision-making loop during the Kargil conflict, we will start with a brief primer on the PAF’s hierarchy and how operational matters are handled at Air Headquarters.
The policy-making elements at Air Headquarters consist of four tiers of staff officers. The top-most tier is made up of the Deputy Chiefs of Air Staff (DCAS) who are the Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) of their respective branches and are nominally headed by the Vice Chief of Air Staff (VCAS). They (along with Air Officers Commanding, the senior representatives from field formations) are members of the Air Board, the PAF’s ‘corporate’ decision-making body, which is chaired by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS). The next tier is made up of Assistant Chiefs of Air Staff (ACAS) who head various sub-branches and, along with the third-tier Directors, assist the PSOs in policy-making; they are not on the Air Board, but can be called for hearings and presentations in the Board meetings, as required. A fourth tier of Deputy Directors does most of the sundry staff work in this policy-making hierarchy.
The Operations & Plans branch is the key player in any war, conflict or contingency and is responsible for threat assessment and formulation of a suitable response. During peacetime, war plans are drawn up by the Plans sub-branch and are then war-gamed in operational exercises run by the sister Operations sub-branch. Operational training is accordingly restructured and administered by the latter, based on the lessons of various exercises. This essentially is the gist of the PAF’s operational preparedness methodology, the efficiency of which is amply reflected in its readiness and telling response in various wars and skirmishes in the past.
In early 1999, Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi was at the helm of the PAF. An officer with an imposing personality, he had won the Sword of Honour at the Academy. During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, as a young Flight Lieutenant, he was on a close support mission in erstwhile East Pakistan when his Sabre was shot down and he was taken POW. He determinedly resumed his fighter pilot’s career after repatriation and rose to command PAF’s premier Sargodha Base. He was later appointed as the AOC, Southern Air Command, an appointment that affords considerable interaction amongst the three services, especially in operational exercises. He also held the vitally important post of DCAS (Ops) as well as the VCAS before taking over as CAS.
The post of DCAS (Ops) was held by the late Air Marshal Zahid Anis. A well-qualified fighter pilot, he had a distinguished career in the PAF, having held some of the most sought-after appointments. These included command of No 38 Tactical Wing (F-16s), the elite Combat Commanders’ School and PAF Base, Sargodha. He was AOC, Southern Air Command before his appointment as the head of the Operations branch at Air Headquarters. He had done the Air War Course at the PAF’s Air War College, another War Course at the French War College as well as the prestigious course at the Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK.
The ACAS (Ops) was Air Cdre Abid Rao, who had recently completed command of PAF Base, Mianwali. He had earlier done the War Course from the French War College.
The ACAS (Plans) was the late Air Cdre Saleem Nawaz, a brilliant officer who had made his mark at the Staff College at Bracknell, UK, and during the War Course at the National Defence College, Islamabad.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the PAF’s hierarchy was highly qualified and that each of the players in the Operations branch had the requisite command and staff experience. The two top men had also fought in the 1971 Indo-Pak War, albeit as junior officers.
As Director of Operations (in the rank of Gp Capt), my first opportunity to interact with the Army’s Director of Military Operations (DMO) was over a phone call, some time in March 1999. Brig Nadeem Ahmed called with great courtesy and requested some information that he needed for a paper exercise, as he told me. He wanted to know when the PAF had last carried out a deployment at Skardu, how many aircraft were deployed, etc. Rather impressed with the Army’s interest in PAF matters, I passed on the requisite details. The next day Brig Nadeem called again, but this time his questions were more probing and he wanted some classified information including fuel storage capacity at Skardu, fighter sortie-generation capacity, radar coverage, etc. He insisted that he was preparing a briefing and wanted to get his facts and figures right in front of his bosses. We got on a secure line and I passed on the required information. Although he made it sound like routine contingency planning, I sensed that something unusual was brewing. In the event, I thought it prudent to inform the DCAS (Ops). Just to be sure, he checked with his counterpart, the Director General Military Operations (DGMO), Maj Gen Tauqir Zia, who said the same thing as his DMO and, assured us that it was just part of routine contingency planning.
Not withstanding the DGMO’s assurance, a cautious Air Marshal Zahid decided to check things for himself and despatched Gp Capt Tariq Ashraf, Officer Commanding of No 33 Wing at PAF Base, Kamra, to look things over at Skardu and make a report. Within a few days, Gp Capt Tariq (who was also the designated war-time commander of Skardu Base) had completed his visit, which included his own periodic war-readiness inspection. While he made a detailed report to the DCAS (Ops), he let me in on the Army’s mobilisation and other preparations that he had seen in Skardu. His analysis was that “something big is imminent.” Helicopter flying activity was feverishly high as Army Aviation’s Mi-17s were busy moving artillery guns and ammunition to the posts that had been vacated by the Indians during the winter. Troops in battle gear were to be seen all over the city. Interestingly, Messes were abuzz with war chatter amongst young officers. In retrospect, one wonders how Indian intelligence agencies failed to read any such signs, many weeks before the operation unfolded.
After hearing Gp Capt Tariq’s report, Air Marshal Zahid got in touch with Maj Gen Tauqir again and, in a roundabout way, told him that if the Army’s ongoing ‘review of contingency plans’ required the PAF to be factored in, an Operations & Plans team would be available for discussion. Nothing was heard from the GHQ till 12 May, when Air Marshal Zahid was told to send a team for a briefing at HQ 10 Corps with regard to the “Kashmir Contingency”.
Air Cdre Abid Rao, Air Cdre Saleem Nawaz and myself were directed by the DCAS (Ops) to attend a briefing on the “latest situation in Kashmir” at HQ 10 Corps. We were welcomed by the Chief of Staff (COS) of the Corps, who led us to the briefing room. Shortly thereafter the Corps Commander, Lt Gen Mehmud Ahmad entered, cutting an impressive figure in a bush-coat and his trademark camouflage scarf. After exchanging pleasantries, the COS started with the map orientation briefing. Thereafter, Lt Gen Mehmud took over and broke the news that a limited operation had started two days earlier. It was nothing more than a “protective manoeuvre”, he explained, and was meant to foreclose any further mischief by the enemy, who had been a nuisance in the Neelum Valley, specially on the road on our side of the Line of Control (LOC). He then elaborated that a few vacant Indian posts had been occupied on peaks across the LOC, overlooking the Dras-Kargil Road. These would, in effect, serve the purpose of Airborne Observation Posts (AOP) meant to direct artillery fire with accuracy. Artillery firepower would be provided by a couple of field guns that had been heli-lifted to the heights, piecemeal, and re-assembled over the previous few months of extreme winter when the Indians had been off-guard. The target was a vulnerable section of the Dras-Kargil Road, blocking which would virtually cut off the lifeline that carried the bulk of supplies needed for daily consumption as well as annual winter stocking in the Leh-Siachen Sector. He was very hopeful that this stratagem could choke off the Indians in the vital sector for up to a month, after which the monsoons would prevent vehicular movement (due to landslides) and, also suspend all airlifts by the IAF. “Come October, we shall walk in to Siachen— to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians left hungry, out in the cold,” he said, succinctly summing up what appeared to be a new dimension to the Siachen dispute. It also seemed to serve, at least for the time being, the secondary aim of alleviating Indian military pressure on Pakistani lines of communications in the Neelum Valley that the Corps Commander had alluded to in his opening remarks. (The oft-heard strategic aim of ‘providing a fillip to the insurgency in Kashmir’ was never mentioned.)
When Lt Gen Mehmud asked for questions at the end of the rather crisp and to-the-point briefing, Air Cdre Saleem Nawaz opened up by inquiring about the type of air support that might be needed for the operation. Lt Gen Mehmud assured us that air support was not envisaged and that his forces could take care of enemy aircraft, if they intervened. “I have Stingers on every peak,” he announced. Air Cdre Saleem tried to point out the limited envelope of these types of missiles and said that nothing stopped the IAF from attacking the posts and artillery pieces from high altitude. To this, Lt Gen Mehmud’s reply was that his troops were well camouflaged and concealed and, that IAF pilots would not be able to pick out the posts from the air. As the discussion became more animated, I asked the Corps Commander if he was sure the Indians would not use their artillery to vacate our incursion, given the criticality of the situation from their standpoint. He replied that the Dras-Kargil stretch did not allow for positioning the hundreds of guns that would be required, due to lack of depth; in any case, it would be suicidal for the Indians to denude artillery firepower from any other sector as a defensive balance had to be maintained. He gave the example of the Kathua-Jammu Sector where the Indians were compelled to keep the bulk of their modern Bofors guns due to the vital road link’s vulnerability to our offensive elements.
It seemed from the Corps Commander’s smug appreciation of the situation that the Indians had been tightly straitjacketed in the Dras-Kargil Sector and had no option but to submit to our operational design. More significantly, an alternative action like a strategic riposte by the Indians in another sector had been rendered out of question, given the nuclear environment. Whether resort to an exterior manoeuvre (diplomatic offensive) by the beleaguered Indians had crossed the planners’ minds was not discernable in the Corps Commander’s elucidation.
Perhaps it was the incredulousness of the whole thing that led Air Cdre Abid Rao to famously quip, “After this operation, it’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!” as we walked out of the briefing room.
Back at Air Headquarters, we briefed the DCAS (Ops) about what had transpired at the 10 Corps briefing. His surprise at the developments, as well as his concern about the possibility of events spiralling out of control, could not be concealed by his otherwise unflappable demeanour. We were all also piqued at being left out of the Army’s planning, though we were given to believe that it was a ‘limited tactical action’ in which the PAF would not be required—an issue that none of us agreed with. Presented with a fait accompli, we decided not to lose any more time and, while the DCAS (Ops) went to brief the CAS about the situation, we set about gearing up for a hectic routine. The operations room was quickly updated with the latest large-scale maps and air recce photos of the area; communications links with concerned agencies were also revamped in a short time. Deployment orders were issued, and within the next 48 hours the bulk of combat elements were in-situ at their war locations.
IAF – by fits and starts
The IAF deployments in Kashmir, for what came to be known as ‘Operation Safedsagar’, commenced on 15 May with the bulk of operational assets positioned by 18 May. A hundred and fifty combat aircraft were deployed as follows:
• Srinagar 34 (MiG-21, MiG23, MiG-27)
• Awantipur 28 (MiG-21, MiG29, Jaguar)
• Udhampur 12 (MiG-21)
• Pathankot 30 (MiG-21, MiG-23)
• Adampur 46 (Mir-2000, MiG-29, Jaguar)
One-third of the aircraft were modern, ‘high-threat’ fighters equipped with Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles. During the preparatory stage, air defence alert status (5 minutes to scramble from ground) was maintained while Mirage-2000s and Jaguars carried out photo-reconnaissance along the Line of Control (LOC) and aging Canberras carried out electronic intelligence (ELINT) to ferret out the location of PAF air defence sensors. Last minute honing of strafing and rocketing skills was carried out by pilots at an air-to-ground firing range near Leh.
Operations by the IAF started in earnest on 26 May, a full sixteen days after the commencement of Pakistani infiltration across the LOC. The salient feature of this initial phase was strafing and rocketing of the intruders’ positions by MiG-21, MiG-23BN and MiG-27 aircraft. All operations (except air defence) came to a sudden standstill on 28 May, after two IAF fighters and a helicopter were lost—a MiG-21 and a Mi-17 to Pak Army surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and a MiG-27 to engine trouble caused by gun gas ingestion during high altitude strafing. (Incidentally, the pilot of the MiG-27 Flt Lt Nachiketa, who ejected and was apprehended, had a tête-à-tête with this author during an interesting ‘interrogation’ session.)
The results achieved by the IAF in the first two days were dismal. Serious restraints seem to have been imposed on the freedom of action of IAF fighters in what was basically a search-and-destroy mission. Lt Gen Mehmud’s rant about a ‘Stinger on every peak’ seemed true. It was obvious that the IAF had under-estimated the SAM threat. The mood in Pak Army circles was that of undiluted elation, and the PAF was expected to sit it out while sharing the khakis’ glee.
The IAF immediately went into a reappraisal mode and came out with GPS-assisted high altitude bombing by MiG-21, MiG-23BN and MiG-27 as a makeshift solution. In the meantime, quick modification on the Mirage-2000 for day/night laser bombing kits (Litening pods) was initiated with the help of the Israelis. Conventional incessant bombing that started after a two-day operational hiatus was aimed at harassing the infiltrators and denying them respite, with consequent adverse effects on morale. The results of this part of the campaign were largely insignificant, mainly because the target coordinates were not known accurately; the nature of the terrain too, precluded precision. A few cases of fratricide by the IAF led it to be even more cautious.
By 16 June, the IAF was able to open up the laser-guided bombing campaign with the help of Jaguars and Mirage-2000. Daily photo-recces along the LOC by Jaguars escorted by Mirage-2000s, a daily feature since the beginning of operations, proved crucial to both the aerial bombing campaign as well as to the Indian artillery, helping the latter to accurately shell Pakistani positions in the Dras-Kargil and Gultari Sectors. While the photo-recce missions typically did not involve deliberate border violations, there were a total of 37 ‘technical violations’ (which emanate as a consequence of kinks and bends in the geographical boundaries). Typically, these averaged to a depth of five nautical miles, except on one occasion when the IAF fighters apparently cocked a snook at the PAF and came in 13 miles deep.
The Mirage-2000s scored at least five successful laser-guided bomb hits on forward dumping sites and posts. During the last days of operations, which ended on 12 July, it was clear that delivery accuracy had improved considerably. Even though night bombing accuracy was suspect, round-the-clock attacks had made it untenable for Pakistani infiltrators to retain posts. Photo-recces of Pakistani artillery gun positions also made them vulnerable to Indian artillery.
The IAF flew a total of 550 strike missions against infiltrator positions, including bunkers and supply depots. The coordinates of these locations were mostly picked up from about 150 reconnaissance and communications intelligence missions. In addition, 500 missions were flown for air defence and to escort strike and recce missions.
While the Indians had been surprised by the infiltration in Kargil, the IAF mobilised and reacted rapidly as the Indian Army took time to position itself. Later, when the Indian Army had entrenched itself, the IAF supplemented and filled in where the artillery could not be positioned in force. Clearly, Army-Air joint operations had a synergistic effect in evicting the intruders.
PAF in a bind
From the very beginning of the Kargil operations, the PAF was trapped in a circumstantial absurdity: it was faced with the ludicrous predicament of having to provide air support to infiltrators already disowned by the Pakistan Army leadership! In any case, it took some effort to impress on the latter that crossing the LOC by fighters laden with bombs was not, by any stretch of imagination, akin to lobbing a few artillery shells to settle scores. There was no doubt in the minds of the PAF Air Staff that the first cross-border attack (whether across the LOC or the international border) would invite an immediate response from the IAF, possibly in the shape of a retaliatory strike against the home base of the intruding fighters, thus starting the first round. The PAF’s intervention meant all-out war: this unmistakable conclusion was conveyed to the Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, by the Air Chief in unequivocal terms.
Short of starting an all-out war, the PAF looked at some saner options that could put some wind in Pakistan’s sails after the doldrums had been hit. Air Marshal Najib Akhtar, the Air Officer Commanding of Air Defence Command, was co-opted by the Air Staff to sift the possibilities. Audacious and innovative in equal parts, Air Marshal Najib had an excellent knowledge about our own and the enemy’s Air Defence Ground Environment (ADGE). He had conceived and overseen the unprecedented heli-lift of a low-looking radar to a 14,000-ft mountaintop on the forbidding Deosai Plateau. The highly risky operation became possible with the help of some courageous flying by Army Aviation pilots. With good low level radar cover now available up to the LOC, Air Marshal Najib, along with the Air Staff, focused on fighter sweep (a mission flown to destroy patrolling enemy fighters) as a possible option.
To prevent the mission from being seen as an escalatory step in the already charged atmosphere, the PAF had to lure Indian fighters into its own territory, i.e. Azad Kashmir or the Northern Areas. That done, a number of issues had to be tackled. What if the enemy aircraft were hit in our territory but fell across, providing a pretext to India as a doubly aggrieved party? What if one of our own aircraft fell, no matter if the exchange was one-to-one (or better)? Finally, even if we were able to pull off a surprise, would it not be a one-off incident, with the IAF wising up quickly? The over-arching consideration was the BVR missile capability of IAF fighters, which impinged unfavourably on the mission success probability. The conclusion was that a replication of the famous four-Vampire rout of 1st September 1965 by two Sabres might not be possible. The idea of a fighter sweep thus fizzled out as quickly as it came up for discussion.
While the PAF looked at some offensive options, it had a more pressing defensive issue at hand. The IAF’s minor border violations during recce missions were not of grave consequence in so far as no bombing had taken place in our territory; however, the fact that these missions helped the enemy refine its air and artillery targeting was, to say the least, disconcerting. There were constant reports of our troops on the LOC disturbed to see (or hear) IAF fighters operating with apparent impunity. The GHQ took the matter up with the AHQ and it was resolved that Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) would be flown by the F-16s operating out of Minhas (Kamra) and Sargodha. This arrangement resulted in less on-station time but was safer than operating out of vulnerable Skardu, which had inadequate early warning in the mountainous terrain; its status as a turn-around facility was, however, considered acceptable for its location. A flight of F-7s was, nonetheless, deployed primarily for point defence of the important garrison town of Skardu as well as the air base.
F-16 CAPs could not have been flown all day long as spares support was limited under the prevailing US sanctions. Random CAPs were resorted to, with a noticeable drop in border violations only as long as the F-16s were on station. There were a few cases of F-16s and Mirage-2000s locking their adversaries with the on-board radars but caution usually prevailed and no close encounters took place. After one week of CAPs, the F-16 maintenance personnel indicated that war reserve spares were being eaten into and that the activity had to be ‘rationalised’, a euphemism for discontinuing it altogether. That an impending war occupied the Air Staff’s minds was evident in the decision by the DCAS (Ops) for F-16 CAPs to be discontinued, unless IAF activity became unbearably provocative or threatening.
Those not aware of the gravity of the F-16 operability problem under sanctions have complained of the PAF’s lack of cooperation. Suffice it to say that if the PAF had been included in the initial planning, this anomaly (along with many others) would have emerged as a mitigating factor against the Kargil adventure. It is another matter that the Army high command did not envisage operations ever coming to such a pass. Now, it was almost as if the PAF was to blame for the Kargil venture spiralling out of control.
It must be noted, too, that other than F-16s, the PAF did not have a capable enough fighter for patrolling, as the minimum requirement in this scenario was an on-board airborne intercept radar, exceptional agility and sufficient staying power. F-7s had reasonably good manoeuvrability but lacked an intercept radar as well as endurance, while the ground attack Mirage-III/5s and A-5s were sitting ducks for the air combat mission.
In sum, the PAF found it expedient not to worry too much about minor border violations and instead, conserve resources for the larger conflagration that was looming. All the same, it gave the enemy no pretext for retaliation in the face of any provocation, though this latter stance irked some quarters in the Army that were desperate to ‘equal the match’. It may not have struck them that the PAF’s restraint in warding off a major conflagration may have been its paramount contribution to the Kargil conflict.
It has emerged that the principal protagonists of the Kargil adventure were the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Pervez Musharraf; Commander 10 Corps, Lt Gen Mehmud Ahmed; and Commander Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA), Maj Gen Javed Hasan. The trio, in previous ranks and appointments, had been associated with planning during paper exercises how to wrest control of lost territory in Siachen. The plans were not acceptable to the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to whom the options had been put up for review more than once. She was well versed in international affairs, and too intelligent to be taken in by the chicanery. It fell to the wisdom of her successor, Mr Nawaz Sharif, to approve the Army trio’s self-serving presentation.
In an effort to keep the plan secret, which was thought to be the key to its successful initiation, the Army trio took no one into confidence—neither its operational commanders nor the heads of the other services. This, regrettably, resulted in a closed-loop thought process, which engendered a string of oversights and failures:
• Failure to grasp the wider military and diplomatic ramifications of a limited tactical operation that had the potential of creating strategic effects.
• Failure to correctly visualise the response of a powerful enemy to what was, in effect, a major blow in a disputed sector.
• Failure to spell out the specific aim to field commanders, who acted on their own to needlessly ‘capture’ territory and expand the scope of the operation to unmanageable levels.
• Failure to appreciate the inability of the Army officers to evaluate the capabilities and limitations of an Air Force.
• Failure to coordinate contingency plans at the tri-services level.
The flaws in the Kargil Plan that led to these failures were almost palpable, and could not have escaped even a layman’s attention during a cursory examination. Why were all the planners blind to the obvious? Could it be that some of the sub-ordinates had the sight but not the nerve in the face of a powerful superior? In hierarchical organisations, there is precious little cheek for dissent, but in autocratic ones like the military, it takes more than a spine to disagree, for there are very few commanders who are large enough to allow such liberties. It is out of fear of annoying the superior—which also carries with it manifold penalties and loss of promotion and perks—that the majority decides to blow with the wind.
In a country where democratic traditions have never been deep-rooted, it is no big exposé to point out that the military is steeped in an authoritarian rather than a consensual approach. To my mind, there is an urgent need to inculcate a more liberal culture that accommodates different points of view—a more lateral approach, so to speak. Disagreement during planning should be systemically tolerated and not taken as a personal affront. Unfortunately, many in higher ranks seem to think that rank alone confers wisdom, and anyone displaying signs of intelligence at an earlier stage is, somehow, an alien in their ‘star-spangled’ universe.
Kargil, I suspect, like the ‘65 and ‘71 Wars, was a case of not having enough dissenters (‘devil’s advocates’, if you will) during planning, because everyone wanted to agree with the boss. That single reason, I think, was the root cause of most of the failures that were apparent right from the beginning. If this point is understood well, remedial measures towards tolerance and liberalism can follow as a matter of course. Such an organisational milieu, based on honest appraisal and fearless appeal, would be conducive to sound and sensible planning. It would also go a long way in precluding Kargil-like disasters.
Come change-over time of the Chief of Air Staff in 2001, President Musharraf struck at the PAF’s top leadership in what can only be described as implacable action: he passed over all five Air Marshals and appointed the sixth-in-line who was practically an Air Vice Marshal till a few weeks beforehand. While disregarding seniority in the appointment of service chiefs has historically been endemic in the country, the practice has been seen as breeding nepotism and partiality, besides leaving a trail of conjecture and gossip in the ranks. Given Air Chief Marshal Mehdi’s rather straight-faced and forthright dealings with a somewhat junior General Musharraf particularly during the Kargil conflict, there is good reason to believe that the latter decided to appoint a not very senior Air Chief whom he could order around like one of his Corps Commanders. (As it turned out, Air Chief Marshal Mus’haf was as solid as his predecessor and gave no quarter when it came to PAF’s interests.) Whatever the reason that seniority was bypassed, it was unfortunate that the PAF’s precious corporate experience was thrown out so crassly and several careers were destroyed. The lives and honour lost in Kargil are another matter.
Article written by Cmdr Kaiser Tufail (Retd)
Taken from his blog
How to best remember Kargil
Think about it when a politician from the ruling party last year said there was no reason to rejoice about victory of kargil war because it happened on Indian soil how can such people stooped so low and still be in power. Amazing if for eg in USA some politicians would have said something like that about their veterans he would have got his butt kicked atleast.
My suggestion to netaji if you can't appreciate then please keep your mouth shut.
Pakistan still holds some heights it occupied in kargil war.india could not retrieve all heights.
Highest is with Pakistan and everyday Kashmiris protest against India! And u think they want to be with India???
You know what will this result in? They will become terrorist! This is how terrorist are born! And then whole India....u know wht!
Why dosen't Pakistan give open immigration to all the Kashmiris who do not want to be a part of India? It would solve everything.
I thought Pakistani forces never occupied those heights as per the official pakistani version. Is there any bravery in taking over post which were vacant due to heavy snow ??? in our country house/land grabbers do such type of things. May be you are right one or two post might have been with Pakistan, so what who got the ultimate shame and humiliation of loosing the again war, which was started by non other then pakistan.
As per Kashmir is concern, beta your country tried its level best in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 not to forget Siachen attempt and host of small incidents which are not reported, what was the end result, non of the kashmiris were with Pakistan since 1947. Oh almost forget to add the growth and cultivation of crop of terrorists and training camps across the border since 1990's. If we add up all these things i would say that your PA is nothing but shameful organisation, who for serving its own cause has misdirected countries energies towards military confrontation with India. After failing to achieve its goal now Pakistani has moved towards Mumbai attack type terrorist Incident.
At this rate Pakistan is going no where but down.
You know what...take care of the shith*le you call your country first...you know wht.
You know what...get rid of the floodwaters that inundate your country and take care of the 20 mln people out on the streets and starving, with no roof over their heads...you know what.
You know what...stop muddling different subjects in the same thread and sh!tting out your khichdi, you know wht...
If you think you achieved your "objectives", after getting an ass-whooping in Kargil by occupying some "heights", then that can only speak to the smallness of your mind.
As for in the rest of India, people nowadays tend to become tycoons, not terrorists. Can't say the same for the place you occupy, though.
When you stop living off the loans and goodwill of others, when you stop bomb blasts from happening every day in your cuntry, when you stop your largest financial centre from becoming an open-season turkey shoot, then you can talk about India, Kashmir, Afghanistan or anything else...
I rather not mention what we have got.
The name of the operation as per Pakistan, Op Badr, does disservice to the famous battle (turning point in Muhammad's struggle with his opponents among the Quraish in Mecca), which is not the sole property of Pakistan!
Separate names with a comma.