Few commanders in history have left such an enduring legacy or such an indelible imprint on the army that they commanded as Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw. As free India’s most successful commander he ranks among the greats of military history.
His lasting bequest includes his achievements as a military commander and his personal qualities and leadership. Both are exceptional examples for the leaders of the future to emulate.
As a lasting model of professionalism, upright conduct and command mystique Manekshaw has no peers.
Winning India’s first strategic victory he turned the tide of defeats and gave the nation that singular achievement that serves not only as an inspiration and motivating factor but as a touchstone for military preparations.
Manekshaw with his focused strategic vision recognised the need for a complete victory not only because of the political circumstances prevailing but in the larger Indian civilisational context.
He got down to the complex task with his customary energy. The solid planning, training, groundwork, enhancement of resources and build-up that formed the prelude to the 1971 war was extremely dynamic resulting out of the deep desire for victory which permeated the Chief and his team.
Recognising the all-important human factor which is what really wins wars Manekshaw took care to see that troops were sufficiently motivated through personal interactions.
Creating a new country in less than a fortnight the armed forces shaped history! The strategic ramifications of the triumph have ensured us relative peace with Pakistan for the last forty years.
The Indian Army had wiped off the black mark of 1962 with its blood in 1965 by successfully defending our territory. The rejuvenation was now crowned with an outstanding triumph. Truly Manekshaw inculcated in us the habit of victory.
Manekshaw always led by example, He demonstrated his physical courage on the Burma battlefield winning the Military Cross.
His refusal to go into East Pakistan before he was fully prepared established his moral courage standing up as he did before the political leadership for what he believed was the right course of action.
Possessing integrity of the highest order he maintained very high standards of conduct. His professionalism, military knowledge, foresight and vitality were extraordinary. Above all he was the commander the army needed.
I end my tribute to the Field Marshal with this article but will keep writing from time to time about his life and times throughout his centenary year.
Chinese air force modernisation
China is now able to project airpower out to some 1,500 kilometres from its boundaries with new fighters, upgraded strike aircraft and improved missiles.
Its enhanced capabilities include airborne early warning and electronic warfare aircraft, added mid-air refuelling tankers, new command and control systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and space systems including satellites and anti-satellite weapons.
The formidable Chinese combat air fleet now includes Russian Su-27 and Su-30 super-manoeuvrable fighters, the Chinese version of the former, the Shenyang J-11B, Xian H-6 twin-engine medium-range bombers (based on the Soviet Tupolev Tu-16) and Xian JH-7 fighter-bombers – all state of the art.
The Chengdu J-20 stealth twin-engine fighter now under development is expected to be operational in 2017-2019.
Weapons and equipment modernisation is backed up by intensive training. Development of an original doctrine has been followed up with increasing skill in its employment.
(Please write in with your narratives of war and soldiering to email@example.com or call on 093161-35343)