By Lt Gen JS Bajwa
04 Nov , 2016
“Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult … so in war it is difficult for normal efforts to achieve even moderate results.” – Clausewitz’s note of caution.
History has always recorded a nation’s battles and wars in minute detail. Battles and manoeuvres from the times of Alexander to Genghis Khan, Shivaji to Napoleon, Ranjit Singh to Rommel, Patton and Guderian have been exactingly poured over so as to be able, virtually, to re-enact the event of that era. Attributes for success and reasons for failure were identified and lessons drawn up. With progress of technology weapons evolved and warfighting methods changed. However, certain aspects remained, quite literally, constant. On these constants the Principles of War were propounded. With minor modifications these have remained applicable in the wars in the post-modern era.
It is often said that armies are training and preparing to fight the ‘last’ war but end up confronted with a war they had not visualised and which is wholly different. If that were to be true then why bother to draw and learn lessons of the ‘last’ war when the course and construct of a future war is unfathomable? Well the simple answer to that is at least the earlier mistakes will not be repeated. Armies find it easier to train for the ‘last’ war than prepare for a ‘future’ war. A deliberate and concerted effort requires to be put in by commanders at all levels to prevent cerebral calcification wherein status quo finds favour.
India’s national policy has always been non-confrontational with emphasis on resolving issues diplomatically through dialogue and negotiations. Despite India’s morbid aversion for employment of hard power in pursuit of national interest and protect its territorial integrity, India has been drawn into a number of major conflicts by its belligerent neighbours. J&K in 1947-48, Hyderabad in September 1948, liberating Goa in 1961, Chinese debacle in 1962, Indo-Pak War in 1965, liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, 1987-89 OP PAWAN, 1999 Kargil War and 2001-2 OP PARAKRAM. On the face of it Indian Army is a battle hardened force. Therefore, it becomes imperative to draw useful lessons from its redoubtable experience to further hone individual skills and operational techniques and to be prepared for any future contingency when the Army will be called in to defend the country’s territory and its cherished core values.
With that as background, Indian Army’s war experience could be studied to draw lessons and also see which lessons were ignored in subsequent wars and how it did impact the course of the war/battle.
Operations in Jammu and Kashmir 1947-48.