Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The military needs professional audit, says a serving young officer. I agree

For the past 12 hours, I am being had (as they say in the fauj) for raising what I consider legitimate questions on why is the military taking a battering (from Uri to Nagrota via Pathankot) in J &K. While no one doubts the bravery, commitment and professionalism of our men in uniform, many civilians are asking the question: Why are military bases attacked with such regularity and with apparent success by terrorists?Why can't such attacks be minimised, if not prevented altogether? 

I am no fauji (as many key-board warriors remind me all the time on social media because I haven't served) but as someone who has operated in various insurgency theatres in north-east, J&K and Sri Lanka since 1983, I have a semblance of idea of what it means to be in a conflict zone. But don't take my word for it. 

Here's a serving young officer's take on what is happening vis-a-vis the military of late. For obvious reasons he will remain unnamed!


Well, We are at war. Look around if you doubt it. The situation in Kashmir and most of the north west border is volatile.

We knew that this WILL happen. The enemy is ready to hit and we are also doing the same. War does have its collaterals.

Failure.


Pathankot, Uri and Nagrota. It's good to brand the dead as martyrs. But that does not take away the need to assess the why of the incident.

Systemic problems.


It's easy to identify and weed out individual failure. When it cancers out into the system, the instinct to survive ensures that ugly facts are brushed under the carpet.

Examples.


No hierarchy was held accountable for failures at Nyoma, Samba, Nagrota, Machhal etc. The garb of collective blame took away the lessons needed to be learnt making the military as just another unaccountable bureaucracy of the Govt.

Inbred ideas.


Today we all like to be self audited. It's good not scientifically proven to be ineffective. E.g.  In Control Systems, if a system is only given positive feedback. It becomes unstable and collapses. Similarly a system without feedback has no control and self consumes.


The military needs professional audit by HR professionals, security experts and third party groups having no stake in the existing narrative. Self analysis will never reveal the actual fault lines.


Holy Cow


Only the nation is a holy cow. Everything else can and should be questioned for bringing out improvements. I feel that the government should take decisions through its collective wisdom and not let perceptions get in way of executive decisions that need to be timely.

Friday, November 4, 2016

An anguished plea by a veteran

The suicide of a veteran soldier in Delhi, purportedly over his unfufilled grievance, has brought the focus back on to the question of One Rank One Pension. A thorough enquiry will bring out the truth behind the suicide. However, it is time for everyone to be mature and responsible as the letter below from a veteran officer brings out. I am reproducing the text for everyone's benefit. Whether to follow his advice/suggestion is of course an individual decision.




Dear ABPSSP Members,

I am extremely pained about the unfortunate demise of Sub Ram Kishan Grewal on 1st Nov, 2016.Jantar Mantar has become a source of anti-government propaganda by political opponents of the ruling dispensation. It appears that he became a victim of Whatsapp misinformation fallout on OROP by some unscrupulous elements.While majority of the Ex-Service Men (ESM) have received their second installment of OROP, during September 2016, reasons for Late Sub Ram Kishan Grewal’s OROP anomalies need to be investigated factually.

As per the available information, Sub RK Grewal had served for six years in Territorial Army (TA) and subsequently twenty-one years in Defence Security Corps (DSC). At the time of his demise he was drawing INR 23,000 a month. It appears that some amongst the ESM had informed late Sub RK Grewal, that his OROP was INR 28,000 a month. Apparently, he had written a letter to the Defence Minister on 31st October, 2016, complaining about this discrepancy. Unfortunately, even before the Defence Minister could receive or respond to the letter, the said person ended his life at Jantar Mantar.

We, the members of ABPSSP, convey our deepest condolences to the family of Sub Grewal and would do whatever is within our purview to help the family to overcome their grief and their resettlement. We are extremely disturbed and upset at the politics over this “suicide”. It is disgusting to see that some politicians are openly making this an opportunistic incident by press - ganging the family at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

We appeal to the political class; when such tragedy overtakes soldiers, please do not exploit the families of the bereaved for selfish, political agenda. There are many ways that the political class can help the bereaved families to overcome their grief and face the tragedy rather than crudely politicizing the issue.

We are also pained to learn that some retired Officers have been instigating a segment of the ESM for resumption of protests at Jantar Mantar, by listing several misplaced demands (most of which) were unfounded and unreasonable. We appeal to JantarMantar leaders, not to play into the hands of unscrupulous politicians. Let us not ignore the feeling of disgust and cynicism among the public when they watched on the news, ESM burning their medals in July-August, 2015 at Jantar Mantar. Bitter but true – we have lowered our esteem amongst our own people.

I urge the members of ABPSSP and through them the Ex-Service Men fraternity to comprehend the “political drama” over suicide of an Ex-Service Man with an open mind and in proper perspective after considering the following: 
  •      Ex-Service Men fraternity were denied OROP for 43 years (1978-2015) by successive governments.
  •        Sensing the mood of the ESM, then Finance Minister, announced a token of INR 500 Crores for OROP in the budget of February 2014,something the government then was not serious about. 
  •      Perseverance of the Defence Minister in finalizing the OROP Scheme through several rounds of consultation with Ex-Service Men Organizations from February to September 2015, is well known.
  •     The government has not only implemented the OROP Scheme in November, 2015, but it has already paid two installments of the OROP arrears – March 2016 and October 2016 respectively.

·    To overcome the anomalies of the OROP Scheme in vogue, Justice Narsimhan Committee has traveled across the country, received representation from all Ex-Service Men organizations and submitted its report to the Ministry of Defence.

·     The Defence Minister has institutionalized periodic meetings at the Ministry of Defence with Ex-Service Men organizations and other stake holders to resolve all related grievances. Two such meetings have already been held – 14 March & 24 October, 2016.


There will always be a lot going on in the country – at the border, in the capital or anywhere in the vast expanse that we call our motherland. The day we all signed up to be part of the armed forces, it became our responsibility to safeguard our nation in all ways possible. Post-retirement, as part of the civil society, it is now one of our duties to bridge the gap between the civilians and the armed forces. I appeal for your understanding and soldierly response on all fronts of nation building activities. 

Lt Gen VM (Venky Patil)
Chairman, ABPSSP (Akhil Bharatiya Purva Sainik Seva Parishad)

Friday, September 23, 2016

The story behind the story on Rafale that I broke


Last year in April, I almost ignored one of the biggest tip-offs I have received as a journalist but managed to put it up on my blog 12 hours after I first heard about it. 

The story begins on the morning of 9 April 2015, around 1130 am when I bumped into a top defence source at the domestic airport in Delhi who casually mentioned that a decision has been taken by the government to buy the Rafale combat jets off the shelf from France, scrapping an ongoing process that was going nowhere. 

I heard the source say that between 60 and 63 jets were to be bought. Apparently, the decision was taken at a special meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to depart for France. A few hours after that we had this accidental meeting at the airport.

My 'news antennae' was immediately up and I had no doubt about the authenticity of the new since the source was top class but as luck would have it, I had back-to-back appointments that day culminating in a dinner at an embassy. Since I was by now freelancing, I wasn't sure who among the news outlets would believe me with such a massive news break. So I hesitated and kept the information with me.Until about 10.45 at night. 

As I got into the car for a 45-minute journey home, it struck me that this gold standard info should not go unreported. What if some one else also reports it in tomorrow morning's newspaper,I thought to myself and started writing furiously on my I-phone.

Reaching home around 1130, I decided to put up the news on my own blog. So about 10 minutes to midnight on 9 April ( now I see the time was actually 1153 pm), I published this (http://nitinagokhale.blogspot.in/2015/04/big-breakthrough-in-rafale-deal-likely.html) blog post, sticking my neck out. 

All hell broke loose in the aviation circles across the world around midnight IST as I tweeted the link to the piece. Many enquiries were made, many Direct Messages on twitter were exchanged and it wasn't until about 4 am that I could sleep.

Waking up later than usual the next day (10 April), I scanned the morning newspaper for any news on Rafale and sure enough one of the Delhi papers had more or less the same information as I had.

The South Block, headquarter of India's Ministry of Defence (MoD), was--friends on the defence beat said--swarming with reporters of international news agencies and newspapers that afternoon, trying to confirm the news. Indian Air Force officials and the MoD Spokesperson were inundated with calls trying to verify the news put out by me and another newspaper about the decision on Rafale. No one seem to have any idea. Our reports were in fact run down by established celebrity defence analysts as fanciful and unrealistic. To be honest, I did feel bit uneasy but kept the faith since I had got the news from someone who had an inside track in the government.

As the day progressed, one hint of that there was indeed the possibility of a deal being announced came through a report from Paris which quoted Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirming that talks were on on this issue. 

I felt slightly assured.

But it was not until past 10 pm Indian time--nearly 23 hours after I had taken a chance to put out what looked liked an improbable news at that time--that I could heave a sigh of relief. Prime Minister Modi announced at a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande that he had asked France to supply 36 Rafale planes in ready to fly condition (http://in.reuters.com/article/india-france-rafale-idINKBN0N10OL20150410). 

I had got the numbers wrong however. I had said India may buy 60 to 63 Rafales. It turned out that the numbers were to be restricted to 36. 

Since then, in the last 17 months, despite what many naysayers said, my sources in the IAF and MoD negotiating team kept insisting that the deal would go through and go through on India's terms. 

In some hours from now, the Indian and the French Defence Ministers will witness the signing of the formal contract. India has got its way in many respects ( http://bharatshakti.in/how-indian-negotiators-brought-down-the-price-of-rafale-jets%E2%80%8B/) but skeptics will still have doubts. 

For the sake of the country's security and for the IAF to remain a potent force, let's wish the main protagonists good luck.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A veteran's appeal against constant whining

Received this message from a sensible, mature and proud veteran. He is in a minority at the moment but the silent majority must back him and reclaim the voice of sanity is what I feel. Read on. And Act. Now.

It's not even funny to observe that most of who are creative at whining are those who just were mute when then  RM made a written statement in parliament that OROP was not feasible or desirable.


  • Mute when a Chief gave in writing that NFU & MACP not needed by services as it would kill merit.
  • Mute when Then  PM MMS in reply to Then ldr of opposition in lok sabha Mr Advani said OROP implemented issue closed.
  • Mute when then RRM closed investigations into bursting T-72 Guns
  • Mute when Substandard safety plates in mines caused deaths / maiming in mine lifting ops

One person comes along who says yes I will give and we pillory him.


Not appreciating what we got despite institutional bias.


What is in works despite lobbies & vested interests working against it ...


Think ...


Ponder


Instead of supporting efforts to strengthen hands that are giving we seek to deride those who fight for us
The Service pay cells
The AG & DG pers of Navy & AF
The Army CDRs & C-in-Cs of services
The Three service chiefs
The services favouring bureaucracy
The RM
The PM
.
.
We heckle Justice Reddy who is in favour of ESM
.
Other than our selves we have pilloried all ..
Sad state of affairs
We need to ask ourselves what have we done for common cause positivity ..
πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™ Most of you here are senior in age & service ..
Respectfully .. create & take forward positive .. even positive constructive criticism
Else we will loose all respect
πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
Ponder think contemplate


Another young officer, reading the above post just now messaged me this: That's what is required Dada. Get the Army back into Army. Where has the glory gone. My character...soul...life, everything is forged in steel once I say, I am in the army. What's this nonsense going on.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

DSSC: The cradle of tri-services jointmanship

Starting this week, I am going to write about different training establishment of the three armed forces that I visit throughout the year for guest lectures. They have glorious traditions, major accomplishments nd a vital role to play in shaping the top future military leadership. I start with the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC).


 Every February or March when I drive up from the plains of Coimbatore to the Nilgiri Hills and into the spotlessly clean campus of the Defence Services Staff College, I realize how this premier tri-Services training institution epitomises the crΓ¨me de la crΓ¨me of joint training military institutions in the world.

The Staff College, since its inception, has undoubtedly been the fountainhead of learning and military scholastic excellence in India. In my nearly decade-long association with DSSC as a visiting faculty—sharing my thoughts on military and media—the sharpest queries and most critical comments have come from the best and the brightest of the three services who get into this prestigious course through a competitive exam.
 
I have witnessed the College providing an invigorating environment for developing the ability for analytical thinking, creative and intellectual ability, ingenuity and innovative methids. In doing so, DSSC has reaffirmed its commitment to the noble traditions of the Services, while advancing the core values of ‘Duty, Honour and Country’in the leadership of Indian Armed Forces. These aspects are well summed up in College motto ‘Yuddham Pragyaya’, meaning ‘To War with Wisdom’.

It was therefore fitting to hear President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the colours last week in a glittering function. Presentation of colours is by one of the greatest honours bestowed upon an institution in recognition of exceptional service rendered to the nation. Speaking on the occasion, he said the college provides a stimulating environment for “analytical thinking towards creativity and intellectualism”. Founded in 1905 as the Army Staff college in Deolali near Mumbai, it was relocated to Quetta (now in Pakistan). “Post its relocation from Quetta to Wellington in 1948, the Defence Services Staff College has emerged as the premier Tri-Service Institution in the country, and today it epitomises ‘Military Academic Excellence’,” the President said. “The Staff College, founded on the pillars of ‘jointmanship and military leadership’, has played an instrumental role in enhancing the professional capabilities of the officers of the three Services to face the future challenges,” Mukherjee said. He said most critical and sensitive leadership in all the wars has been provided by the alumni of this very “fountainhead of military learning.”

Historically, excellence in command and staff functions has always been the cornerstone of success on the battlefield. The aim of the 45 week long annual Staff Course conducted at the DSSC is to train and educate selected officers of the three Services for command and staff functions in peace and war, in their own Service and inter-Service environment. Whilst numerous institutions of each Service such as Army, Navy and Air Force  exist worldwide to fulfil this role, DSSC is a unique institution in India and among the very few in the world which is truly ‘joint’ in nature and provides professional military education for officers of all three Services together.

The curriculum of the Staff Course caters to needs of the Indian Armed Forces and those across the globe to face the challenges in the unique security calculus that exists today. The course curriculum, balanced and comprehensive in terms of content as well as methods of conduct, comprises the subjects of National Security, Strategy, International Relations, Theories of Warfare, Leadership, Communication Skills and Research Methodology. Most of the academic education is conducted through seminar system in the form of discussions moderated by the faculty. Exercises and war games assist students to validate operational concepts learnt during the Course through practical application. These war games and exercises extensively utilise computer based packages for versatility and objectivity. The students also devote a significant amount of time to individual and group research as well as Study tours. In addition to the faculty driven education, eminent experts in diverse disciplines from across the globe provide students with their perspectives on contemporary and relevant issues through guest lectures.

The scholarly accomplishments of the College are also demonstrated through ‘Trishul’, a tri-Service professional journal, which provides a discussion forum for thought-provoking ideas and matters ‘au courant’ dealing with military issues, international relations, strategic affairs and progressive precepts of joint war fighting. 
Demonstrated professionalism of the Indian Armed Forces, comprehensive course content, world-class facilities and well qualified faculty make the Staff Course conducted at DSSC one of the most sought after courses in the world. DSSC has educated over 1700 students from 75 foreign countries to date and produced not only iconic military leaders but also the Heads of State in many a country. During my visits to DSSC, I have had the opportunity to interact with students from 25-30 countries at any time. Apart from professional training of the highest quality, these students are well nurtured during the intensive training into informal ambassadors of DSSC, contributing significantly to military diplomacy and soft power of the country.
Conforming to the modern needs, the College functions in a network enabled environment with a Wide Area Network connecting entire academic and residential areas. These enable host services such as e-mail and cloud, delivery of training content, interactive forums, conduct of online exercises, dissemination of critical information, administrative services. Software applications such as Geo-graphical Information System, War Gaming Systems and Combat Decision & Resolution Package are leveraged extensively to enhance the value of qualitative training imparted. The recently commissioned Air Wing War gaming Centre, is a futuristic operational Command & Control Centre in the armed forces, which aptly demonstrates the juxtaposition of infrastructure development and exploitation of information technology to fulfil academic needs.
As the current Commandant Lt Gen SK Gadeock, AVSM, says his Vision of DSSC strives not only to produce future military leaders and commanders, but also to achieve holistic persona development of their families, thus contributing to society and nation building in the long run. An important factor in accomplishing this objective is in providing robust infrastructure and a conducive, stress free environment. 
The most remarkable feature of the College is the availability of all the facilities within one campus, in proximity of the centre of academic activity. In recognition of the quality management system and environmental management system employed and the standards achieved, the College was accorded ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 certification on 25 Jun 2015- an unprecedented distinction. DSSC now stands apart as the only Armed Forces Institution in India to be certified for compliance with both ISO standards. The Presentation of colours by the President only confirmed the pre-eminent status that DSSC has come to enjoy among Category A Training Establishments of the three services.  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Let the Army do its job

Last week, Capt Amrinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala, soldier and now politician, wrote a heartfelt piece batting for the Indian soldier deployed in Kashmir and berated the political as well as military leadership. The burden of his lament was: The Indian Army in Kashmir has been de-fanged and is fast becoming an "army of girl guides." The article immediately gained currency and wide circulation, especially among retired faujis, already angry with the government for various alleged sins of commission and omission on One Rank One Pension and 7th Pay Commission issues.

Capt Amrinder had some valid points in his piece, written more as a soldier that he was. However, the politician in him could not resist the temptation of taking pot shots at the current leadership. "The Government of India must allow freedom of action to the Army. The directive must be just one: 'Bring a situation in the state where the writ of India runs and not that of the ISI,' he wrote, hinting that the current government at the Centre which has an alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir was going soft on militancy in Kashmir. He was being economical with the truth. But more of the status of counter-insurgency a little later.

Coming back to Capt Amrinder’s piece. As a political leader, he has the liberty and right to criticise opponents. The sad part is he has used the Army and its so-called lapses to hit out at the political leadership. "For instance, in Budgam when a car broke through a military checkpoint in November 2014, the soldiers manning the post opened fire, as was their duty. One officer and eight jawans were court-martialed and imprisoned. Penalising soldiers for doing what was expected of them is unacceptable. It is for the Chief and his Northern Army Commander to stand by their men in the difficult duty they are performing and not succumb to political pressures," Capt Amrinder writes in support of his criticism. 

However, as it turns out, no such court martial took place. The Army’s Northern Command which has been at the forefront of the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir came up with an official denial on its Twitter handle. It said: "No army soldier, officer court martialed/ imprisoned in the Budgam incident of November 2014," giving lie to the good Captain's assertion. However, the clarification notwithstanding, a large number of Whatsapp messages, google groups and twitter handles started taking the army to task for punishing the soldiers once again highlighting the dangers of depending on unverified posts/reports to express opinions that spread confusion among the serving ranks of the military and demoralising them.

Last month, at a seminar on Social Media and the Military at Chandigarh, I have had an occasion to point out to this pitfall. There I cited an example of how some months ago, a senior veteran criticised the Ministry of Defence for deciding to appoint 'outsiders' to sit on promotion boards of senior military commanders. Again, the article was written without bothering to cross-check facts. There was no such decision taken and yet, the article got widely circulated giving false impression and further adding to the already existing negative sentiments against the 'civilian' in military minds.

Other such examples of misleading, untrue posts doing the rounds abound but suffice it to say that veterans--many of whom are active keyboard warriors now--may need to pause a bit and rethink about the propensity of using the stratagem of 'forwarded as received.' It is easy to morph, amend, twist articles, photos and posts because of improved technology and faster communication, thanks to the 'mobile republic' that India has become. A civilian forwarding a post about the military will not be taken as seriously as a veteran's forward would be.

The veterans, I feel, have a great responsibility to support the organisation that they served with dedication and loyalty. Please level constructive criticism by all means. But please also have faith in the current leadership which may be faced with new challenges and circumstances, the old timers never had to face.

The military too needs to reach out to veterans and keep the community informed about various new initiatives and developments concerning the organisations. As I mentioned in Chandigarh last month, every Command and of course service HQ s should think of a 'communication cell' where veterans active in the traditional media and on social media can post their queries and clarify doubts so that gaffes that keep occurring because of misinformation/disinformation are kept to a minimum.

Coming back to the current situation in J&K. The Army has studiously kept itself away from the current law and order issue in Kashmir valley where protesters have been on a rampage in the wake of the killing of Burhan Wani, a self-proclaimed terrorist. In one instance, the Army patrol, when faced with a riot-like situation, followed the standard operating procedure of warning the crowd before firing at the crowd that tried to snatch weapons from the soldiers. Unlike the police and central armed police forces, the army has to shoot to kill which is exactly what the patrol did.

A closer look at figures pertaining to counter-insurgency operations this year is also revealing. According to official figures, since January to 24 July 2016 the security forces have eliminated 85 terrorists as compared to 43 for the corresponding period in 2015 while 17 have been caught as compared to just five last year. That Pakistan has once again ‘opened the tap’ in pushing in terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir is evident from the fact that there have been over a dozen infiltration attempts from January to July.  Ten soldiers have already died defending the country this year so far and this is not counting police and CAPF personnel who laid down their lives during their duty in J&K.

Clearly, there is no let up in Pakistan’s attempt to stir trouble in J&K, especially in the Kashmir Valley.  And of course there is no policy to rein in the Army and appease terrorists. 

The Indian Army has stood firm for over quarter of a century in thwarting this attempt. The military leadership, soldiers and indeed all security forces continue to battle difficult circumstances in Kashmir. Let’s not add to their woes by spreading half-baked stories, factually incorrect posts and inaccurate articles. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Kargil conflict recalled, by a leader on the ground

The month of July always brings back memories of the summer of 1999 when India experienced a range of emotions—pain, loss, anguish, pride, triumph and military victory—thanks to the young men and their not so young leaders who conducted one of the most famous military campaigns in what, till then, was an obscure place: Kargil. Operation Vijay, the official name of Indian Army’s fierce counter-offensive in the rugged terrain of Ladakh’s Kargil-Drass-Batalik area, is probably the most well-known military operation in independent India’s history.

It is rightly known as the first military conflict that entered Indian drawing and bed rooms, thanks to the then fledgling Indian TV news industry. In subsequent years, many of us in the media have written and reported on the heroes of those days, about the victory achieved by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force against heavy odds. Kargil, 1999 is by now very well chronicled. So why am I writing this piece?

Because, I finally found time to read what is perhaps THE most authentic and comprehensive account of the Kargil conflict. Lt Gen Mohinder Puri, who commanded the 8 Mountain Division—hastily rushed into Kargil from Kashmir Valley—as a Major General in 1999, waited for than 16 years to pen down his memories and his observation on the conflict that has come to define the Indian Army’s image in the 21st Century. His book Kargil: Turning the Tide, published by Lancer Publishers in 2015 can easily be described as the most intimate account of the Kargil conflict simply because it is written by the man who led the Indian charge in that limited theatre.

Although Gen VP Malik has written a detailed account of Kargil 1999, his was a take as seen from the strategic level. Many others too—soldiers and journalists included—have described what happened in Kargil, but I recommend Gen Puri’s book for the simple fact that his is the on-ground report. While the first nine chapters clarify many doubts that students of recent military history may have had about the conduct of operations, the initial mistakes, the setbacks and the recovery all along the front line, to me the most important part of this book are Chapter No. 10 and 11 titled Principles of War and Reflections, respectively. The entire essence of Operation Vijay is encapsulated in these two chapters and contains many lessons which I am sure, Gen Puri’s successors deployed in this sector have imbibed in the later years.

The 8 Mountain Division, rightly called ‘Forever in Operations’ since it has never had a moments respite after its raising in 1963 (in the north-east), is now entrusted with guarding the entire Kargil-Drass-Batalik frontage of the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.

Gen Puri has been frank in admitting some of the pitfalls and mistakes that inevitably happen during a hot war but he has also shed light on how innovative tactics—employment of Bofors gun in direct firing role, for instance—helped the Indian troops turn the tide. He also gives due credit to the Indian Air Force and points out that restrictions imposed by the political leadership in not allowing crossing of the LoC, actually created more problems for the air warriors since they did not have enough depth to launch their attacks and instead of approaching the objective from south to north, the air attacks had to launched in east-west direction, restricts the IAF’s options. The Army too suffered because of the restrictions. As a formation commander he wanted limited permission to cross the LoC for purely tactical purpose but the terms were unambiguous. As Gen Puri says: “Exercising...the options to cross the LC would have meant faster operations, lesser casualties without much loss of credibility. It would have shown us as a nation which applies restraint but cannot be pushed around. Wars if thrust upon a country must be fought on enemy’s territory; unfortunately in military terms we failed to achieve this objective.”


That despite this major restriction and many other adverse factors such as difficult terrain, critical equipment shortages and intense public scrutiny, then Maj Gen Mohinder Puri and his officers and men of several units finally evicted the intruders and regained Indian territory , albeit at very heavy cost, cannot be forgotten. As the nation gears up once again to celebrate the anniversary of the Kargil victory later this month, those interested in what actually happened in those summer weeks in a remote border area 17 years ago, must get hold of Gen Puri’s honest account of the Kargil conflict, if only to understand what it takes to stake your life to protect the nation.