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Remembering 51 Mountain Regiment

The 51 Mountain Regiment was one of a couple of animal pack artillery units raised in 1961 when the seriousness of the threat posed by China across the Himalayas started figuring in military circles. Writes Mandeep Singh Bajwa.

chandigarh Updated: Sep 07, 2014 08:47 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Hindustan Times

The 51 Mountain Regiment was one of a couple of animal pack artillery units raised in 1961 when the seriousness of the threat posed by China across the Himalayas started figuring in military circles.

However, no guns were forthcoming to complete the raising and the unit went into the 1962 war in an infantry role with detachments serving as forward observers. My father had the privilege of serving with the regiment as its second-in-command in 1963. At the time Colonels Jagga Singh and Gurdev Singh from the Tricity were young, hard-working subalterns who were go-getters. They vividly remember the hard horse-riding and gruelling gun drill of those days. The experience of the demanding work of animal management coupled with the mastery of gunnery laid the foundations of the regiment’s work culture and pursuit of professionalism. In 1966 the regiment lost it’s pack animals and was deployed in the Tangdhar sector during the 1971 war in a new role after re-equipment.

I was lucky enough to interact with the regiment’s veterans at Chandigarh last Sunday and a witness to much bonhomie, camaraderie and regimental spirit. Captain Anil Gupta, a short-service officer during the eighties, now doing business at Solan got very emotional while recalling his association with the regiment. This is the kind of spirit that keeps regiments, the finest institutions of the army going.

Lt Generals from the 1979 batch

The results of the selection board for the rank of Lieutenant General among the batch of Major Generals commissioned in 1979, held earlier this year, hitherto secret have now been de-classified.

A total of seventeen officers have been recommended for further promotion. Out of these fourteen have been selected for promotion in both command and staff streams. They will be considered for command of corps and in due course for promotion to the next rank of army commander. Three Major Generals have been cleared in the limited stream for staff. They will be posted only on staff and other appointments i.e. non-command jobs and will not be eligible for further promotion not having fulfilled the command criteria. Congratulations to all the selected officers. A closer perusal of the list reveals that all those empanelled are from the core combat arms of infantry, armoured corps and mechanised infantry. No one has been selected from the combat support arms artillery, engineers or signals. This is a surprising development given that officers from these arms have always done well in appointments relating to the general cadre which provides the mainstay of the army’s leadership. One can’t comment further without knowing further details but the absence of officers from supporting arms is a rare occurrence and does raise eyebrows.

Navy lacks helicopters

Euphoria at the commissioning of indigenous warships should not disguise the lack of anti-submarine helicopters for deployment on them. These are used to detect submarines through dipping sonar which is lowered into the water. They’re then destroyed by depth charges. The navy currently has too few Sea King 42B helicopters for deployment on all ships requiring them. Procurement of new aircraft seems a long way off given the lack of seriousness shown by the Defence Ministry. In the absence of aerial platforms the anti-submarine capability of both the new destroyer and anti-submarine corvette is severely limited.

(Please write in with your narratives of war and soldiering to or call on 093161-35343)

First Published: Sep 07, 2014 08:44 IST