Force Magazine

Past Perfect, Future Tense

Political leadership should ensure that India’s defence becomes a force to be reckoned with on the global platform

General V.P. Malik (retd)

India’s defence report card of the past seven decades is more positive than negative. But the credit for that goes less to our politics, policies and grand strategies; more to those responsible for the operational planning and execution on the ground.

We have had reactive policies, ad hoc defence planning, inadequate equipping, intelligence failures and strategic surprises. And yet, the armed forces have maintained India’s security and territorial integrity much better than any other developing, democratic nation in the world. The armed forces have also played an important role in our nation building.

Their baptism started soon after Independence. The Indian Army was employed to force the reluctant rulers of Hyderabad and Junagarh to integrate their states with the rest of India. We had to defend Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) when Pakistani raiders, led and supported by Pakistani Army, attacked that state. We liberated Goa in 1961 and fought that ignominious Sino-Indian war in 1962. In 1965, Pakistani ruler, General Ayub Khan launched Operation Gibraltar in J&K after a side-show in Kutch. In 1967, there was a skirmish with China at Nathu La. The third India-Pakistan war in 1971 resulted in a glorious military victory: liberation of Bangladesh, return of Bengali refugees, and a huge dent on the Pakistan Army.

In 1984, we pre-empted Pakistani attempt to occupy Siachen Glacier. The Wangdung skirmish with China took place in 1986. In 1987-88, because of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement, we intervened in Sri Lanka’s civil war, and then in an exemplary rapid action across the Indian Ocean, we put down an attempted coup in the Maldives at the request of its government.

In 1999, despite intelligence failure, strategic and tactical surprise, we defeated Pakistan’s attempted intrusion in the Kargil sector.

Apart from these external security engagements, the security forces have fought insurgencies in North-eastern states since mid-Fifties, Naxalites in West Bengal in late Sixties, and terrorism in Punjab in the mid-Eighties. They continue to fight Pakistan-sponsored proxy war in J&K since the late Eighties.

Indian Army taking out a flag march in Kashmir
Indian Army taking out a flag march in Kashmir

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