Gorkhas have a unique place within the Indian Army largely because of their exceptional qualities of head and heart which make them such special soldiers.
In the first place they take naturally to war and soldiering possessing the virtue of discipline so essential for military men. Aggressive in battle they strike fear into the hearts of their adversaries. Loyalty to them is the supreme virtue.
Their loyalty encompasses their officers, their regiments and their adopted country for whose cause they have never hesitated to make the supreme sacrifice. Gorkhas are a byword for courage. On the battlefield the reckless abandon with which they close with the enemy makes them feared and respected by adversaries.
A Gorkha soldier demonstrating the proper use of the khukri to a recruit. Aggressiveness combined with superlative confidence makes Gorkhas invincible in attack. (Photo: 14 GTC)
Many anecdotes exist to prove their self-sustenance in combat conditions which enables them to survive any and all adverse situations. Truly very tough possessing a physical strength (including phenomenal ability to negotiate mountainous terrain) and resilience to match the best a Gorkha soldier always performs at his best.
The ability to carry out gruelling physical tasks over long periods of time is ingrained in them. Gorkhas have a very fine quality of appreciating method and system, a sort of soldierly orderliness that stands them in good stead.
Military drills instilled in them are carried out with precision and despatch. This makes them the very best of soldiers taking on enemies with a doggedness and military strength that has given them a fighting reputation second to none.
MANEKSHAW AND THE PRELUDE TO WAR
Having received the political leadership’s nod to initiate operations at a time of his choosing and after due preparation, Manekshaw got down to the onerous task at hand.
The military operations directorate under General KK Singh was put on the task of planning the operations and left unhindered to do their job after receiving broad directives. This was typical of Manekshaw’s command style. He used his considerable personal charisma, drive and unerring focus to motivate all personnel to give of their best.
Sam’s personal rapport with the prime minister helped him to fast-track access to much needed resources like finance, rolling stock, laying of new rail tracks and equipment. The sense of national purpose under which everyone worked helped tremendously in making good shortages in warlike stores and build up of logistic capabilities.
Using lessons learned from previous conflicts combat training was stepped up. Exercise Shah Sowar conducted in Central India during May-June prepared the only strike formation, I Corps for war.
To keep up the pressure on the enemy operations of the Mukti Bahini as well as those of our own troops operating in deceptive roles were stepped up. Some of the best leaders as well as junior officers were inducted to conduct a guerrilla war within East Pakistan causing attrition, damaging morale and even liberating key areas. Manekshaw personally enthused commanders and built up troops’ morale through extensive touring and interactions. He also got the government to review provisions for casualties, looking after bereaved families and the war wounded.
All these efforts ensured that on December 3, 1971, we had a superb instrument of national policy, the Army, well motivated, confident , equipped as could best be and supremely self-assured of its plans and leaders. This was the result of Manekshaw’s careful planning and superhuman efforts at teambuilding.
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