Outstanding commanders of the Sikh Regiment have been source of pride

  • Mandeep Singh Bajwa, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 07, 2016 12:15 IST
General Krishen Khorana proudly wearing the ‘Khatti Dori’ (yellow lanyard) of the Sikh Regiment. Commanders like him led from the front and made the regiment what it is today. (Photo: General Krishen Khorana)

The 60s and 70s were professionally challenging and satisfying times for the Sikh Regiment. Its battalions showed their fighting skills at Bum La, Tongepen La and Richhmar Galli (1st Sikh). Raja Hill and Pul Kanjri (2nd Sikh), Walong, Burki and Siramani (4 Sikh), Chhamb (5 Sikh), Defence of Poonchh (6 Sikh), OP Hill (7 Sikh), Lippa Valley (9 Sikh) and Parbat Ali (10 Sikh). The key to all these successes, both on and off the battlefield was good leadership. The 40s through the 70s saw some of the finest fighting soldiers laying the ground for the regiment’s successes. Vikram Khanolkar, Ranjit Rai, Harbaksh Singh, Satinder Singh, Shamsher Singh, Karnail Sidhu, Gulcharan Singh, Trevor Morlin, NN Khanna, RG Mathur, Sammy Chengappa, Prem Vadhera, AG Inamdar are some of the names veterans recall with pride. The leadership of these outstanding officers motivated troops to give of their best.

Cast in the same mould of leadership is Krishen Khorana who served with the 1st, 9th and 4th Battalions. Belonging to Toba Tek Singh, now in Pakistan he was commissioned into the 1st Battalion in 1959. He served as adjutant during the 1962 war where the unit fought in the Kameng Division of NEFA. Graduating from staff college, he fought with 9 Sikh during the Lipa Valley operations in Western Kashmir which continued after the ceasefire well into 1972. Commanding the 4th Battalion, he next had a stint with military intelligence. Later commanding 202 Brigade that was tasked with the defence of Bhutan, he retired as chief administrative staff officer with Western Command as a major general.

A gentleman of the old school, he is highly intelligent and well-read with a ready wit. Its always a pleasure to joust with him on social media and face to face.

Blessed with good leadership, the Sikh Regiment will continue to train hard for war and perform well in counter-insurgency operations. Therefore, my dear countrymen do not read too much into their exclusion from this year’s Republic Day parade.

Lessons from Pathankot

Once again we’ve learnt that unity of command is fundamental to the success of military operations. If the GOC of 29 Division had been made the operational commander, he would’ve mobilised the resources of his entire formation and all the other troops in the Pathankot-Mamun complex. Instead of 150 commandos waiting to react to the terrorists’ moves, he would’ve deployed enough troops to cover the airbase’s perimeter, with patrols, ambushes and early warning elements and quick reaction teams in readiness. Other troops would have secured the aircraft, equipment and families.

The security bureaucracy’s running of the operation through remote control from Delhi was contrary to all the principles of asymmetric warfare. We must secure our borders through adequate deployment of force and enhanced electronic surveillance. The interior, between the border and likely targets must be patrolled vigorously both on roads and cross-country by the police and paramilitary forces. Ultimate security lies in being proactive and taking the war to the enemy, increasing his costs and neutralising existing or potential threats on their home ground. For that we need a reasoned foreign policy based on national interest. Are the powers that be listening?

(Write in with your narratives of war and soldiering to msbajwa@gmail.com or call on 093161-35343)

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