Courtesy Indian Defence Review Issue: Vol 25.2 Apr-Jun 2010
Every military operation carries many lessons. The receptive imbibe some while the obstinate simply ignore. To be in a state of denial or finding alibis for mistakes rather than learn from failures can be counter productive. National war is a joint effort, not only by all the wings of the defence services, but equally involves civil administration and the nation at large. In war no single service does favour to another in doing its designated duty as required of it. Any attempt to defend the indefensible invariably leads to irrelevant and specious arguments.
The article ‘Kargil Conflict, Sorry State of Higher Defence Management’ which appeared in the IDR of Oct-Dec 2009 issue highlighted failings at various levels in meeting Pakistani challenge at Kargil. There was hesitation, procrastination, and timidity in the Indian response. There are lessons to be learnt from this operation. Turning a Nelsons Eye will only result in repetition of these in future.
The article ‘Kargil Controversy,’ essentially relied on the writings of the principal actors during the Kargil operations, discussions with those who took part in this operation and personal knowledge of ground etc. Air Marshal RS Bedi (Retd) in his article, ‘Kargil - an IAF perspective,’ in the IDR issue of Jan-Mar 2010, as rebuttal to the above article, is long on arguments but short on facts. He seems to prove the maxim that, ‘in war, truth is the first casualty.’
Air Force in ground support role is a very potent weapon and can turn the tide in battle. The dynamics of a short war does dictate the imperatives of putting greater weight of air effort to support ground battle in all its facets. There is a compelling need for evolving acceptable tactical and strategic concepts for employment of various wings of the defence forces, in the context of a short war and synergizing their combat potential. Regular joint training for smooth functioning and for each service to understand the strengths and limitations of the other two, is essential. However, in the absence of unity of command much of this is likely to remain on paper.
Lt Gen Harwant Singh, former Deputy Chief of Army Staff. He also commanded a corps in J&K.
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Revisiting Kargil: Finding alibis for failures serves no purpose
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