Kargil War: A saga of gallantry and valour

July 20, 2021 2:49 PM

Over decades the situation remains the same and the raw courage and valour of young officers and men has proven time and again that the Indian Army has never been short of “courage”.

kargil warKargil was the first operation that was covered “live”; much to the chagrin of the troops being launched into operations.

By LT COL MANOJ K CHANNAN,

How rightly did Time, the American magazine, write at that time, post Sino- India conflict of 1962, “The Indian Army needs almost everything except courage.” The COAS General VP Malik in 1999 made a statement, we will fight with what we have.

Over decades the situation remains the same and the raw courage and valour of young officers and men has proven time and again that the Indian Army has never been short of “courage”. In the recent past it was again demonstrated by Late Col Suresh Babu, MVC and his gallant men as they clashed with the PLA at Galwan on 15th June 2020.

Kargil was the first operation that was covered “live”; much to the chagrin of the troops being launched into operations.

Social Media / NGOs like Lest We Forget carry out a stupendous job of remembering each day the sacrifice of our gallant men each year and keeping the public memory alive.

The young officers just commissioned, many doing their mandatory infantry attachments; though commissioned in the “Services”; adequately demonstrated the fact that the leadership in the Indian Army was unmatched and the kill ratio of the officers is well recorded as statistical data.

The quotes of these officers, before going into assault have become famous quotes, a legacy that will keep their memories alive. The most famous of them by Late Capt Vikram Batra, PVC on being asked on a TV channel what were his feelings and he responded “Yeh Dil Maange More”; a tag line of an advertisement; displaying his courage of conviction to kill and evict the intruders at the oxygen deprived heights.

Are days of commemoration only to remember the bravado of those Killed in Action?

As responsible citizens, it is also time for us to ensure that our troops are better equipped and have the wherewithal for carrying out operations.

This is a long wish list to include intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR). ISTAR is the process of integrating the intelligence process with surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance tasks in order to improve a commander’s situational awareness and consequently their decision making.

Future conflicts are going to be conducted over many domains which will be non-contact initially and kinetic to mop up the enemy. This will encompass Cyber and Economic domains which impact the war waging capacity of nations.

It is also a time to reflect the biased mind of our citizens who tend to remember what was fought on the land borders of the country. Kargil Diwas is celebrated on 26th of July each year; however, in 1987 Indo Sri Lanka Peace Accord was signed on 29th of July; thus launching the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) into Sri Lanka to bring about peace and tranquillity on the island nation.

Due to political reasons the mission of IPKF was changed overnight leading to a violent conflict which led to 1200 Killed in Action and more than 3000 gravely wounded/amputations for life. In 1948 operations – 1,104 killed; 1962 war – 1,383 killed; 1965 war – 2,862 killed; 1971 war – 3900 killed and 1999 war – 527 killed.

Operation Pawan wasn’t a private war of the Indian Armed Forces, it was at the direction of the Government of India that it carried out its operations, with one hand tied behind its back, as always.

The Government of India both in 1987 and 1999 had imposed restrictions on use of all its resources to eliminate the enemy. During Kargil, restriction was imposed that the Line of Control will not be transgressed to evict the enemy, notwithstanding the fact that we lost two fighter aircraft and one helicopter. This is something to reflect upon as we remember and honour our Braveheart’s for their supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation.

(The author is an Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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