From 1962 to 2020: The battle hardened Indian Army

Updated: June 05, 2020 6:12 PM

Our armed forces, in utter neglect of personal safety, went into battle in high altitude areas, under equipped and under clothed; they fought and gave their all for the country.

indian army, 1962 war, hiindi chini bhai bhai, indo chinese standoff, Op Parakram, kargil war, Ajit Doval, NSA, defence newsThe worlds ‘Second Largest’ and the most ‘Battle Hardened Armies’ in the modern world, Indian army today is not the Army of 1962 where our men fought with PT shoes on their feet in high mountains! (IE photo)

By Brig Pradeep Bhatia

1962 saw an India emerging from the shadows of her struggle for Independence. The Nehruvian period with the Menons & Kauls in positions of leadership. The call for ‘Hindi -Chini Bhai Bhai’ resonated in the corridors of power. Somewhere someone made a remark suggesting that India did not require an Army!

Our armed forces, in utter neglect of personal safety, went into battle in high altitude areas, under equipped and under clothed; they fought and gave their all for the country.

Years later, taken by surprise at the sneaky manner in which the Pakistan Army Regulars mixed with Terrorists launched attacks on sensitive areas in 1999. We found ourselves pitched in Op Parakram, the Kargil War as it came to be known. The then Chief has been on record to say’ We will fight with what we have’ and we fought to eject the Pakistan forces with much success.

Intelligence and the ability to place under surveillance areas much beyond the line of sight was obviously the need of the hour in addition to the ability to pick up ‘chatter ‘ in areas of communication, radio traffic, Internet, Satcom and more, apart from other means of purely military use.

Indo-Chinese Stand Off

Since 1962, India has a far improved infrastructure, stronger presence of ‘Boots on Ground’ better equipped and logistics.

Our ability to take on the Chinese was demonstrated in 1967 and is well documented, again in the year 1986, we experienced the Sumdorong Chu episode followed by Doclam in East Sikkim, and each of these was resolved to mutual satisfaction.

Admittedly, Doclam attracted much attention in the media and now we see much more about Ladakh!

Experts and Assessments

Reports of the numbers of Chinese troops, their Tanks and Artillery Guns being deployed are being debated by various media channels . ‘Experts’ some of whom have not even had the ‘Honour’ of serving or seeing that area and others quite insensitive to National Security talk of Strategy and India’s Options as though these are an ‘Over the Counter’ drug which we can publicise! Some suggest that the Chinese have occupied a large chunk of Indian Territory while others deny this ! Obviously these views are based on where you are looking at the issue from; if from an Indian perspective, then the Chinese have only come up to their claim lines, from the Indian perspective, they have violated a border understanding where in neither party should occupy an area under dispute! Had our troops occupied up to Finger 8 would the Chinese have accepted it?

Admittedly it does serve as a counter to Chinese propaganda and build a ‘War Hysteria’.

Indian Army

The worlds ‘Second Largest’ and the most ‘Battle Hardened Armies’ in the modern world, Indian army today is not the Army of 1962 where our men fought with PT shoes on their feet in high mountains!

Spread across mountains, snow-clad areas, riverine terrain, jungles, deserts in addition to Cou8ter Terrorism and Responding to Disasters. World armies look to us for training! Our troops are in great demand for UN Missions too.

Campaigning Seasons and methodical systems of deployment have been arrived at and refined through the years, minimum force levels worked out in detail to thwart any surprise action by our adversaries. Be it ‘Finger 4 ‘ or elsewhere as in Naku La, areas which are being contested by both India and China as theirs.

The Military Leadership at the Levels of Command, Corps, Divisions, Brigades and below are par excellence. It is rare that one gets to see an army Commander who has fought a battle in Kargil, commanded a Division, the Corps and is now at the Command Headquarters in addition to his having been the Defence attaché to China.

Junior leadership at the levels of Commanding Officers and below, have proved their dedication and loyalty time over time even at the cost of lives, their commitment remains unquestionable.

The Indian Army is a funny animal if I may say so, troops on ground are committed to do their job regardless of what they have or do not have. It is called’ Regimental Spirit & Regimental Pride’.

Intelligence, Build Up & War

Given modern-day technology, it is a given that almost all countries worth their salt have either their own ability to maintain a close watch on ‘Units & Formations’ which matter, this includes their move from permanent locations, forward deployment of aircraft, logistic build-up and so forth.

The agencies controlling such information as far as India is concerned, have state of art technology, in addition, there always is our ‘super-spy organisation’ and the NSA, Mr Ajit Doval who has more experience in such matters than anyone else in the country today. It needs to be said, however, that none of these is controlled by the Armed Forces.

Taking India by a surprise would appear a rather difficult task today and would require a very high degree of deception. I might add, apart from the Indigenous Technology available to India, there is every possibility of getting minute to minute inputs of every Chinese activity in the depth areas from our friendly countries. They need not be named.


Such incidents and events have a tendency to reoccur time and again. No one makes peace with a weak Nation and everyone wants peace with a strong one. The weak get what the strong give them and not what they desire!

With China and Pakistan adopting an aggressive stand, the encirclement of India by the Chinese along land borders , the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, Nepal taking a stand against India on territorial issues are likely to remain .The Dams planned by the Chinese in POK, Gilgit and North of Bhutan, the BRI in the West, Taiwan and Hong Kong, confrontation with the USA and our alignment with them, one can at best expect more tense moments.

India can ill afford to neglect her armed forces, in the foreseeable future, if at all, in the interest of National Security, our Armed forces require more muscle.

It is for the Government and policymakers to take a call and support the Defence Forces in a suitable manner. Our defence expenditure is therefore expected to rise until the ‘Make In India’ programme meet the requirement with suitable technology and equipment. A failure to do so may just prove more costly than spending on the desired equipment.

(The author is an Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal.)

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