Kargil War

Lessons and fu­ture se­cu­rity chal­lenges


As­trate­gi­cally con­scious na­tion com­mem­o­rates its his­tor­i­cal na­tional se­cu­rity events for three rea­sons: to re­mem­ber and pay homage to those who sac­ri­ficed their lives for the na­tion’s fu­ture, to re­call lessons that emerged from that event and to pledge for a safer and bet­ter fu­ture. When the na­tion cel­e­brates the 13th an­niver­sary of the Kargil War, it is an ap­pro­pri­ate oc­ca­sion to re­call its im­por­tant lessons and our ca­pa­bil­ity to meet fu­ture se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

The Kargil War can be re­mem­bered for its strate­gic and tac­ti­cal sur­prise, the self-im­posed na­tional strat­egy of re­straint keep­ing the war lim­ited to the Kargil-Si­achen sec­tor, mil­i­tary strat­egy and plan­ning, in keep­ing with the po­lit­i­cal man­date, and the ded­i­ca­tion, de­ter­mi­na­tion and courage of our sol­diers and ju­nior lead­ers de­spite sev­eral de­fi­cien­cies in weapons and equip­ment. In fiercely fought com­bat ac­tions, on dif­fi­cult ter­rain that gave im­mense ad­van­tage to the en­emy hold­ing moun­tain-tops, we were able to evict Pak­istani troops from most of their sur­rep­ti­tiously oc­cu­pied po­si­tions. Pak­istani lead­er­ship was forced to sue for cease­fire and seek with­drawal of its troops from the re­main­ing ar­eas. Op­er­a­tion Vi­jay (code name for the war) was a blend of de­ter­mined po­lit­i­cal, mil­i­tary and diplo­matic ac­tions, which en­abled us to trans­form an ad­verse sit­u­a­tion into a politico-mil­i­tary vic­tory.

Sev­eral lessons emerged from the war, which re­quired a holis­tic na­tional se­cu­rity re­view as well as re­think­ing on the na­ture of con­flict in the new strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment and con­duct of wars. Some im­por­tant lessons were: - ven­tional war be­tween two nu­clear weapon states but as long as there are ter­ri­tory-re­lated dis­putes (cur­rently we have them with China and Pak­istan), the ad­ver­sary can in­dulge in a proxy war, a lim­ited bor­der war, or both. strat­egy in­vari­ably leads us to a re­ac­tive mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion. Be­sides, no loss of ter­ri­tory is ac­cept­able to the pub­lic and the po­lit­i­cal author­ity. It is, there­fore, es­sen­tial to have cred­i­ble strate­gic and tac­ti­cal in­tel­li­gence and as­sess­ments, ef­fec­tive sur­veil­lance, and close de­fence of the bor­der. our abil­ity to re­act rapidly. The new strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment calls for faster de­ci­sion-mak­ing, ver­sa­tile com­bat or­gan­i­sa­tions, rapid de­ploy­ment and syn­ergy amongst all el­e­ments in­volved in the war ef­fort, par­tic­u­larly the three ser­vices. of cred­i­ble de­ter­rence and es­ca­la­tion dom­i­nance. Such de­ter­rence may pre­vent a war; it will also give more room for ma­noeu­vre in diplo­macy and con­flict. close po­lit­i­cal over­sight and politico-civil-mil­i­tary in­ter­ac­tion. It is es­sen­tial to keep the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship within the se­cu­rity and strate­gic de­ci­sion­mak­ing loop. much greater trans­parency of the bat­tle­field. The po­lit­i­cal re­quire­ment of a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion and to re­tain moral high ground (and deny that to the ad­ver­sary) needs a com­pre­hen­sive me­dia and in­for­ma­tion strat­egy. In the last 13 years, the armed forces have fol­lowed up on many of these lessons. The war had high­lighted gross in­ad­e­qua­cies in our sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­ity. Some ac­tion has been taken to im­prove all-weather sur­veil­lance and closer de­fence of bor­der along the line of con­trol (LoC). This ca­pa­bil­ity along the line of the de­sired level. In­di­vid­ual ser­vice and joint ser­vices doc­trines have been re­vised. More Spe­cial Forces units have been added to the strength of each ser­vice.

Higher de­fence man­age­ment

Na­tional Se­cu­rity Re­view in 2002. The Se­cu­rity Re­view had rec­om­mended cre­ation of the post of Chief of De­fence Staff (CDS) to pro­vide a sin­gle-point mil­i­tary ad­vice to the gov­ern­ment and to re­solve sub­stan­tive in­ter-ser­vice doc­tri­nal, plan­ning, pol­icy and op­er­a­tional is­sues. This is nec­es­sary be­cause in In­dia, turf wars, in­ter-ser­vice ri­val­ries, bu­reau­cratic de­lays and po­lit­i­cal vacil­la­tion in de­ci­sion-mak­ing be­come ma­jor hur­dles in de­fence plan­ning which is tardy, com­pet­i­tive and thus un­eco­nom­i­cal. Due to lack of po­lit­i­cal will and in­ter-ser­vice dif­fer­ences, this im­por­tant rec­om­men­da­tion was not im­ple­mented. Se­lec­tive and cos­metic im­ple­men­ta­tion of rec­om­men­da­tions, with­out chang­ing rules of busi­ness, has en­sured a sta­tus quo in the higher de­fence con­trol and its de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses.

In the new strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment of un­pre­dictabil­ity, en­hanced in­ter­ac­tiv­ity and much faster plan­ning

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