SP's LandForces - - INTERVIEW - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

The month of Oc­to­ber this year marks the com 1962. This war of one month has been an­a­lysed by all cat­e­gories of peo­ple. De­pend­ing upon an in­di­vid­ual’s pro­cliv­ity and area of ex­per­tise, the fo­cus has var­ied from ob­ser­va­tions at strate­gic lev­els, bear­ing in mind the big­ger pic­ture to a purely po­lit­i­cal anal­y­sis or a tac­ti­cal anal­y­sis of the bat­tles in var­i­ous sec­tors. The gen­eral im­pres­sion of the pub­lic which per­sists till date is that the coun­try was hu­mil­i­ated and the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship of the coun­try, at that point of time, brought upon this hu­mil­i­a­tion on an ill-pre­pared and ill-equipped Army which was called upon to throw out the ag­gres­sor by a Prime Min­is­ter who was out of touch with re­al­ity and who had ne­glected the de­fence pre­pared­ness of the coun­try since in­de­pen­dence and had de­mor­alised the Ser­vice Chiefs. To top it, all there was a De­fence Min­is­ter whose ego­tis­tic tem­per­a­ment far ex­ceeded his man­age­ment skills. His in­ter­fer­ence - set the se­nior lead­er­ship of the Army be­cause the Gen­er­als put in charge were in­com­pe­tent for the as­sign­ments given to them.

Air Power which may have made a ma­te­rial dif­fer­ence was not used. While the present Air Chief, with hind­sight in­tel­li­gence, has made a ref­er­ence to this as per me­dia re­ports, I have al­ways won­dered why the Army and the Air Chiefs in 1962 did not in­sist upon the use of air power as pro­fes­sion­als. The re­luc­tance to use air power was ev­i­dent even in the run up to the Kargil War in 1999 where the con­di­tion­al­ity of po­lit­i­cal clear­ance was put forth by the IAF, af­ter re­ceiv­ing the Army’s re­quest, in­stead of ob­tain­ing it and get­ting on with the job. What was the Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee (COSC) do­ing?

Wars are na­tional un­der­tak­ings and should be fought with all re­sources at the dis­posal of the na­tion, hence it is ob­vi­ous that even the high­est mil­i­tary lead­er­ship did not ac­quit them­selves with hon­our in 1962 and were brow­beaten by a short­sighted and highly con­ceited po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship, who chose to take the ad­vice of the In­tel­li­gence Bureau Chief over the Ser­vice Chiefs.

Sin­gle ser­vice plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion of op­er­a­tions has been the bane of In­dian armed forces with the ex­cep­tion of 1971 war with Pak­istan where, due to the per­son­al­i­ties in­volved, joint plan­ning led to a spec­tac­u­lar success. Should we con­tinue on the ba­sis that in the next war, the Ser­vice Chiefs will shed their turf dif­fer­ences and come to­gether to plan and ex­e­cute the op­er­a­tions jointly? The sooner we put in­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nisms into place which pro­vide po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship (Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity) by the Chief of De­fence Staff (CDS) and Ser­vice Chiefs, in peace and in war, and im­ple­ment the ap­point­ment of a CDS or a per­ma­nent Chair­man Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee, as re­com- mended by the Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee, the bet­ter it would be for the de­fence of the na­tion. Manda­tory ser­vice in joint staff ap­point­ments by - tion of key op­er­a­tional com­mands are also vi­tal re­quire­ments for the fu­ture. Po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tives are es­sen­tial to achieve this state.

An ar­ti­cle by the former Army Chief, Gen­eral V.P. Ma­lik has been in­cluded to pro­vide a back­drop to what went wrong in 1962. An over­view of the type of chal­lenge we are likely to con­front in the fu­ture, as far as China is con­cerned, is of­fered by an ar­ti­cle on “China’s Mil­i­tary Mod­erni­sa­tion” by Dr Monika Chansoria.

This is­sue also car­ries the in­ter­view of the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices. The In­dian Army as­pires to be a net­work-cen­tric force in the near fu­ture and so we have tried to un­der­stand how near is the ac­qui­si­tion of this ca­pa­bil­ity. Ad­di­tion­ally, there are ar­ti­cles on “Con­cep­tu­al­is­ing Fu­ture Wars”, “Si­achen Dis­pute”, “Sol­dier Mod­erni­sa­tion”, “Bat­tle Man­age­ment Sys­tem” and “In­dian Army in Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment”.

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