Indian Military: The Proverbial ‘Dhol’

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Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava (Retd.)
Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava (Retd.)
Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava has served in Iraq and is a graduate of both DSSC and AWC. He was Directing Staff at DSSC and Chief Instructor at College of Air Warfare. He Served at Air HQ, commanded a MiG-21 Sqn, and headed the IAF establishment of Strike Corps during 'Operation Parakram'. He has authored a book titled 'Profligate Governance – Implications for National Security. He has written extensively on international and strategic affairs and Defence Procurement Procedures. The IAF officer graduated from the NDA in June 1970 and trained at AFA with 107th Pilots Course. He can be reached at Email: [email protected] * Views are personal

Dear Mr. Manoj Joshi,

I read your essay titled ‘A force to Reckon with’ nearly a dozen times to grasp the essence of what you were attempting to convey. You have, like many other pseudo-intellectuals treated the Indian Military like a ‘DHOL’. ‘JAB JISKI MARZI HOTI HAI TO BAJA KE CHALA JATA HAI’. But I found that the core issues were conveniently obfuscated in the fog and milieu of words. The core issues are;

1. Does the Indian Military need a structural change from the current Regional Command structure to the proposed Theatre Command?

2. Can India support a Theatre Command structure akin to that prevailing in the USA and to a certain extent China?

Neither of the above issues has been clearly defined/discussed with pros and cons clearly enunciated. The issue has been left to the imagination of the reader. As a soldier and Air Power student, I do not require anyone to tell that Air Power will play a much greater role in providing favourable conflict termination situations in any future conflict and enable the negotiators to deliberate/discuss post war negotiations from a position of strength.

I find some of your statements disconcerting and at times insulting. Your statements are;

• Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat has never really had the intellectual heft to handle it.

• India (you actually meant Indian Military) has a long history of dysfunctional jointness of its military. Even though combined arms operations were a legacy of world war II, the Indian Military never quite took to them.

• The process of taking forces that have been used to fighting their individual battle and getting them to work with others is not easy.• The task of creating NSS was assigned in 2018 to NSA – Indian Military.

• You have made a ‘tongue in cheek’ comment about Army naming Op Vijay and IAF calling Op Safed Sagar’.

I will cover each of your statements, which I find derogatory.

 Bipin Rawat is a former CoAS. Service Chiefs, past and present, are institutions, and institutions are never denigrated. Even I have serious differences with Bipin Rawat on the issue of theatrisation but I have never questioned his personal intellectual wisdom as you have by stating the above. It is in bad taste, both professionally as well as morally. Had there been a full blown war during his tenure as CoAS, he would have led from the front and won the war. Did he not lead the Army with distinction for three years? You or for that matter anyone else have no right to cast aspersions.

Your next statement about the ‘dysfunctional jointness’ of the Indian Military is even more appalling and profound for all the wrong reasons. Such statements usually originate in golf courses and officers’ mess bars. Since independence whenever a crisis brew the Indian Military establishment rose like a phoenix and fought with whatever it had and came out with flying colours, always and every time. 26th October 1947 is a red letter day when under the command of Sam Bahadur nearly 1200 fully armed jawans were airlifted across Banihal flouting every conceivable rule limitation listed in Dakota Pilot’s notes. USAF even today recognizes this amazing feat as one of the best post 2nd WW airlifts. Srinagar was saved. For records; at that time neither there was a joint doctrine nor a comprehensive op order. It was the will, determination and untiring zeal of the Indian Military to win. It is this quality that has ensured that the Indian Military has never lost an opportunity to win. Your statement, I am afraid, is indicative of outright professional prejudice for reasons best known to you. It is appalling because you happen to occupy a position of significance in a supposedly intellectually vibrant organization, the ORF. Surely you have no idea about the famous Meghna crossings in the 1971 war. I can go on and on recounting the exemplary instances. Not forgetting to mention what IAF Hunters did to advancing Armoured Division of Pakistan from Jaisalmer.

On what basis have you made such a supercilious statement that the Indian Military is used to fighting individual battles. You should either give an example/s or withdraw such derogatory statements based on unsubstantiated facts if any. Three arms of the Indian Military have a clearly defined area of responsibility. Turf wars are peacetime entertainment. Which organization, PMO downwards does not have turf wars?

When it came to discussing the most important issue, you did a near perfect getaway by merely making a mention of the nonexistence of the National Security Strategy (NSS) document. You could not have used the same phrase for NSA as you did for Bipin Rawat.

Mr. Joshi your facts on Kargil are either incomplete or you have chosen to project an incorrect picture. I am quoting from an article by the then CAS, ACM Tipnis published in October 2006. Facts, as mentioned, are;

  1. The then EAM during a meeting on 18th May clearly desired that in view of his forthcoming international visit ‘IAF elements may not be used as far as possible’.
  2. Noting by PS to PM are : (a)  For the present airpower not to be used (b)  Hot pursuit by ground forces to be permitted in the area of present operation.
  3. The above was approved by the PM.
  4. Incidentally IAF Chief in his briefing had sought full and unrestricted use of IAF fighters, which was not agreed to.

Should I believe the CAS or your flawed comments projecting Army and Air Force in a bad light? Would you like to question the government on the issue even now?

Mr. Joshi, we value your intellectual wisdom, but do not require your assistance to sort out the issue of Theatrisation. It is within the military domain. The three Service Chiefs and CDS are more than competent to handle the issue and find an amicable solution. Derogatory references made in respect of Bipin Rawat and the Indian Military’s supposed ‘DYSFUNCTIONAL JOINTNESS’ were not required to make a sense of an otherwise crisp write up sans specific recommendations.


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