The iron fist in the velvet glove | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Mar 29, 2017-Wednesday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

The iron fist in the velvet glove

chandigarh Updated: Apr 28, 2013 11:52 IST

Why have the Chinese made so many intrusions into the Indian territory, the latest being near Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh? It's partly because of the eternal Chinese lust for testing their opponents' resolve and political will.

In the last five years the Indian move to bolster defences along the border with China - raising new formations, upgrading and boosting infrastructure have upset the Chinese. Therefore through their old methodology of creating border incidents they seek to humiliate India psychologically, get this country to agree to give them political concessions and block further Indian military build-up along their frontier.

The Chinese worry is that an increase in Indian defences will further lead to an acquisition of offensive capability threatening their vulnerable Tibet region. The presence in India of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan government-in-exile, a large expatriate Tibetan population, not to forget India's own Tibetan guerrilla force create myriad uncertainties in their minds.

In the context of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's upcoming visit it must be remembered that the tour of any Chinese leader is always preceded by an act of aggression in order to pave the way for concessions that they seek from us.

So how should we deal with this latest intrusion and further Chinese pinpricks? While the situation causes concern it has not yet reached alarming proportions. But in time to come it will given the snowballing effect of any weak-kneed reaction. Therefore a strong, calibrated response is called for.

Remember, the velvet glove of diplomacy that signifies friendship must enclose within it the iron fist of military might. Moving Indian troops already in place to positions around the Chinese incursion would send the right message.

Reinforcement from the plains of the troops already in theatre by fresh formations, including armour, would effectively demonstrate our resolve. A long-term military solution would be to speed up the raising of new offensive elements in all sectors with of course the necessary logistic infrastructure to support their deployment and successful operations.

Indian leadership triumphed at Kargil
JP Dutta's landmark film 'LOC Kargil' showcased the excellence of Indian middle and junior leadership in the Kargil campaign of 1999. Military experts have found many flaws in the movie but what it really focuses on is the battle-winning factor of the war.

The political leadership forbade any crossing of the Line of Control precluding a war of manoeuvre involving outflanking moves, offensives along river valleys and through gaps, getting into the rear of the entrenched enemy and cutting off their lines of communication and supply.

Thus handicapped, the military high command had no option but to soften up the enemy's defences through air strikes and artillery fire, sending in the infantry to frontally assault fixed defences up steep slopes.
It was one of the most extraordinary campaigns in the history of mountain warfare.

Essentially, it became a war of battalion commanders and the young officers they commanded. And they did not let the army down. In the true traditions of the Indian military leadership credo of 'Follow Me' the commanding officers, company and platoon commanders led from the front always. Their aspirations, devotion to duty, concern for their men and eagerness to come to grips with the enemy were truly phenomenal. And to think that a few incidents of fratricide and inter-branch tension had convinced the Pakistanis that the Indian armed forces would not react significantly to their intrusions!

For the professionalism and high standard of junior leadership we must acknowledge the excellence of pre-commission training and subsequent training at the various schools of instruction - the Infantry School, School of Artillery, College of Combat, and Defence Services Staff College among others. The fine tradition of training young officers in their units contributed handsomely.

Dutta also highlighted a forgotten aspect of motivation for war relevant to all conflicts that undoubtedly contributed to the inspiration of our men on the Kargil heights - the support of the women behind them, whether mothers, wives or sweethearts. They sent their men off to battle with a smile, their own courage and strength of mind adding to the soldiers' mettle.

Keeping in mind that it were the junior leaders who won us this and other wars, we must keep the legitimate aspirations of the officer corps in mind when deciding on pay, perks and privileges.

Army Postal Service Corps' 41st anniversary

Postal services in the army date back to 1856 when they were first conceived as a wartime organisation forming part of an expeditionary force that went to Bushehr in Iran. They were a part of the Indian General Service, till it was disbanded in 1947.

The postal service was then affiliated to the Army Service Corps (ASC) as its postal branch until establishing itself as an independent entity from March 1, 1972, onwards for providing postal facilities to troops in operational areas.

Please write in with your feedback, comments, suggestions and personal narratives of war and military service to or call on 093161-35343