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HIMALAYAN BLUNDER. The curtain-raiser to the Sino-Indian War of Brig. J.P. DALVI (Retd.) U UN. EPSITV. INDIAN ARMY. DEQ Himalayan Blunder by JP tetraedge.info - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online for free. Himalayan Blunder was an extremely controversial war memoir penned by Brigadier John Dalvi. It dealt with the causes, consequences and aftermath of the .
Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Books by Language. Full text of " Himalayan Blunder " See other formats B. As each account appeared, inevitably shifting responsibility or blame to someone else , another was provoked. Private feuds became public , public controversies expanded. Men who would otherwise have remained mute were stung to publish. Books proliferated.
The Dalai Lama was forced to flee from Lhasa for the second time in fifty years. On 3rd April Mr. Nehru confirmed that the Dalai Lama had crossed into Indian territory on 31st March and had been granted political asylum, at his own request. The Dalai Lama was met by high Indian officials and given a reception befitting his high ecclesiastical and political status. After the protocol preliminaries India had to do some hard thinking, and take un- equivocal decisions as a result of this sudden develop- ment.
Government appeared to have been taken by surprise, as it did not give the impression of having an answer to the radically new political situation. Asylum to the Dalai Lama was an unfriendly act in the eyes, of the Chinese, and it would be difficult to reconcile friendship with China and sympathy with the Tibetans.
On 14th May , Mr.
In the event we adopted a compromise policy in that we. They had decided that they were not going to walk a tight-rope. The pressure was now really on.
The men and material for the massive attacks of October-November were concentrated over at least three stocking seasons. In April China gave another clear -warning that the border question with India was still not settled. This hint went unnoticed and did little to stimulate us into some positive action. China then proceeded to hot up the pace of the sullen border confrontation and created three serious border incidents between August and October , which could no longer hide the seriousness of the Sino- India border conundrum.
He also admitted that the Chinese had established a camp near a place called Spanggur, well within our territory'.
These startling disclosures evoked more questions forcing the Prime Minister to concede that two or three other places had also had frontier trouble.
Nehru first dealt with the Khcnzcmanc clash of arms. He said: When requested to withdraw they pushed back — actually pushed back — our greatly out-numbered patrol to the bridge at Drokung Samba. Our people consisted of ten or a dozen. Later on the Chinese detachment withdrew' and our forces established them- selves.
I might say that according to us there is an international border. Two miles on this side is the Bridge and two miles on that side is our picket or small force. So our patrol was pushed back to the Bridge and two miles away they stood facing each other. Then both retired.
The Cliincsc party later arrived and demanded immediate withdrawal of our picket and lowering of our flag there.
This request was refused. There w'as an attempt by the Chinese forces to outflank our people, but as far as we know' our people remained there and nothing further happened ; that is on the border itself. The second incident was at Longju.
On the 25th a strong Chinese detachment crossed into our territory, in the Subansiri Frontier Division, at a place south of Migyitun and opened fre at a forward post of ours. Honourable Members will remember I just Author's italics. That was the protest in June last and there the matter ended.
Now round about that area, and a little further away, but not far from it, this Chinese detachment came and met our forward picket of about a dozen persons. It is said that they fired at our forward picket. They were in much larger numbers, it is difficult to say in what numbers but they were in some hundreds - , or even more. They surrounded the picket. The outpost is at a place called Longju. Longju is about 3 to 4 miles from our frontier between India and Tibet as we conceive it.
Limeking is about 12 days' march from the next place behind it. So in this way Longju is about 3 weeks from a roadhead. I merely mention this to give the House some idea of the communication, transport, distance and time taken. The Chinese came again on the 26th and opened fire and practically encircled the picket and post. Our people apparently fired back too. The Prime Minister then gave an indication of the action taken by the Government in the face of this explosive situation.
There were no probing questions, and no one asked where the additional forces were to come from. Surely the Army did not have surplus troops standing by for just such a contingency? The Army had always been restricted both in its man-power and its budget to ceilings fixed by the Cabinet.
If so what diplomatic action was proposed to ensure that we did not get involved with Pakistan while we were undertaking this additional commitment? Did Government seriously mean to take on both China and Pakistan simultaneously?
Would the Government need more money to meet this extra commitment? Was there to be an increase in the strength of the Army? Had the Army the necessary mountain warfare equipment? The Prime Minister spoke for the first time of defending our border, and using the Army to do so, but there was no long-term appreciation of the Chinese threat and possible Chinese reactions.
Nehru did not link border incidents with aggressive Chinese intentions. In thfe circumstances he could not formulate any National Policy worth the name. Menon has since confirmed this approach to the China problem. The problem continued to get mixed up with domestic politics. Defence debates were used to air their own ideological beliefs and personal feuds, and the national interests got lost in the verbiage.
Such a party could not tackle the. Chinese problem. No attempt at a non-party foreign policy was made. In any case Mr. Nehru had never permitted foreign affairs to be decided by anyone but himself, advised by Mr.
Menon and a few External Affairs Ministry officials. Without meaningful debates, with a compliant Parliament and an adoring public, Mr.
Nehru was left to Iris own judgement and he continued to drift along, living in fond hopes of a peaceful settlement of the Sino-Indian Border dispute. He may have quietened his critics but he did not dissuade the Chinese from over- running our pitiful military outposts. Despite the clear lessons of Khenzemane and Longju our political and military thinking continued to be beset by doubts, inertia and lethargy. We learnt no lessons. Let us take the Khenzemane incident first.
Khen- zemane is at the eastern end of the ' Thagla Ridge, which was to be the scene of the opening round of the War with China.
As is well known, the Chinese do not officially accept the McMahon Line as the boundary between India and Tibet, as they contend that they were not signatory to the Simla Convention of That is why they pushed our men back to this Bridge. Even Mr. In the circumstances he could not formulate any National Policy worth the name. Nehru was left to his own judgement and he continued to drift along, living in fond hopes of a peaceful settlement of the Sino-Indian Border dispute.
Wc learnt no lessons. Khen- zemane is at the eastern end of the Thagla Ridge, which was to be the scene of the opening round of the War with China. In so far as the alignment of the McMahon Line, in the Thagla Ridge-Khenzemane sector is concerned, they claim that the Line runs through the Drokung Samba Bridge, some two miles inside our tenitory. The matter was not settled amicably, and this area remained disputed on a matter of detail, without prejudice to the larger issue of the legality of the McMahon Line.
As we shall sec later, it was an unwise act to set up a post Dhola , in May-Junc , in the same area, without the military force to sustain our interpretation of the Line, by force if necessary.
This was the first major mistake in the tragic events of In both incidents it will be noted that the Chinese considerably out-numbered us.
Our posts were always a dozen or so men, with no reinforcements at hand, isolated and dependent on air-supply. When con- fronted by superior Chinese forces they could offer no worthwhile resistance.
Dhola which was one such post had only 40 men and could offer no resistance. All the commander could do was to raise an alarm.
Dhola was used as a bait by the Chinese to lure us to the Namka Chu, denude our defences at Towang and open the road to the plains of Assam. We were taken in neatly by the Chinese tactics. We accepted this as the modus operandi of the Chinese. There would be no escalation and no war. This kind of fallacious thinking and reasoning led us to accept battle in a remote death-trap in the Dhola area post, in When the Chinese used maximum force we were surprised. So we deduced anew that the Chinese were still playing parlour games and did not intend to fight.
Nehru himself admitted the vast distances and the difficult logistics problem in the Himalayan border areas. Longju was three weeks from a road- head, but then so was Dhola post. The difficulties of Dhola were conveniently ignored when we decided and announced, that we were going to evict the Chinese. The defenders ran out of ammunition, and air-supply was not possible due to bad weather as August and September are monsoon months. Possibly the Air Force was short of aircraft or there was no supply-dropping equipment.
The sorties that did get through missed the dropping zone. All this was to be repeated in We learnt nothing nor, apparently, did we wish to learn anything. In we relied entirely on air-drops involving thousands of tons and under worse conditions.
Air-drops became an end in themselves; what the forward troops could collect was secondary. Predictably, after both incidents, we sent protest notes about the Chinese misbehaviour. The Chinese misbehaviour was only one of pushing, prodding, and protest notes! Handing over the borders to the Army was a meaningless gesture, without the additional resources required. We did not increase our vigilance or our preparedness, and only misled our friends who were stunned by our defeats, when we had claimed that wc had started preparations as early as In the next chapter we shall trace the deployment of the Army, and sec how the moves actually took place.
The last major incident of took place in Ladakh on 20th October. The Chinese ambushed a police party, under Havildar Karam Singh, about 40 miles inside our own territory, while it was on a routine patrol in the Chang Chenmo Valley, south of Kongka Pass.
The Chinese later claimed that our party had intruded into Chinese territory'. Wc lost 9 killed and 10 were taken prisoners. This incident really inflamed public opinion, as our Army always seemed to be at the receiving end of Chinese acts of aggression. By the end of there was no longer any room for doubts or complacency.
A clash of arms was a near certainty if the border problem was not negotiated across a table ; and it was no longer a question of minor adjustments and delineating boundaries by consulting old documents, but the prospect of war over a vast area of our inhospitable northern regions. The Chinese had given us clear warning that they were serious, and were not averse to a fight if tins was unavoidable. The Army did not share the complacency' of the country and were wary of the Chinese.
The facile optimism of Parliamentary statements obviously could not remove the harsh realities of terrain and our in- adequacies. As early as he had informed Government of what would be required in men and material to contain the Chinese. He -was dubbed pro-West by Air. Anyway with civil supremacy Government would tell him when and what to do about the Chinese.
General Thimayya returned Mr. Menon still kept harping on Pakistan being the Number One Enemy of India to divert the Indian people from the real and imminent Chinese danger. General Thimayya did not subscribe to the theory of numbering our likely enemies. General Thimayya had for some years before becoming the Chief, been aware that the Army was overstretched, with commitments far in excess of its resources.
The additional commitment of the North- East Frontier Agency and Ladakh could not be fulfilled without increasing its strength and organising an assured supply system. New weapons, new organisations, roads and accommodation were prerequisites before we could contemplate major operations in the Himalayas.
A month after the incidents at Khenzemane and Longju we witnessed the unfortunate clash between the Defence Minister and the Army Chief.
General Thimayya submitted his resignation to Nehru. Nehru handled the impasse like a seasoned politician, used his immense authority and his personal charm on the straightforward soldier and persuaded him. Later Nehru publicly stated that he thought that Thimayya was making an issue over trivial matters.
He also made a statement deprecating soldiers coercing the Civil Authority -which must remain supreme m a democracy.
Nehru won his Pyrrhic victory but lived to regret it. In he was compelled to replace those he had publicly defended and was forced to recall General Thimayya, after the NEFA Reverses, to lend respectability to the National Defence Council which was set up to assure the people against further military adventures. I cannot resist an aside. Here we see Mr.
Nehru using the so-called Sino-Indian border crisis to subdue General Thimayya. We know that the same crisis has been used to extract taxes from a reluctant Parlia- ment. If he sincerely believed in the existence of a real crisis why was he guilty of neglecting the defences of the nation?
How is it possible to reconcile his appreciation of a Chinese threat with his subsequent statement that China was too weak and preoccupied to start a war with India? To an Indian it is always distressing to find evidence that Mr.
Nehru was a human politician. His subsequent actions are irreconcilable with his assertion that there was a Sino-Indian border crisis at the time of the Thimayya-Menon episode. General Thimayya was a seasoned, disciplined soldier who needed no lessons in elementary patriotism.
He would hardly have made an issue over trifles. Only over-riding national interests would have provoked him to the extreme step of resignation; and later withdraw the resignation in dutiful obedience to his Prime IMinister. If he was unbalanced and prone to make issues oyer trifles, Mr. Nehru should not have appointed him Chief of the Army - the choice was entirely his an.
Thimayya had always harboured misgivings about Chinese motives and intentions. China had the advantage of an early start in developing border communications. Indian border posts had to encounter tremendous natural obstacles. It was accepted- that the Army divisions were located there to suppress the rebellious Khampas and to maintain law and order. Their presence did not signify any war preparations against India.
Pettiness and selfishness are not qualities that one would wish to associate with a man of the stature of Mr. He was the most out- standing field commander in the Indian Army and was the first and only Indian to command a fighting brigade in battle in the Arakan, in World War II.
He won the British Distinguished Service Order on the battlefield. North Indian soldiers, the bulk of the Army, loved him as much as the rest. This is a rare tribute.
In he commanded the Punjab Boundary Force, during the critical post-Partition days, when murder, massacre and madness were the order of the day. He was a big man in every way and when most people had lost their heads, he remained calm, scrupu- lously fair and absolutely honest in his dealings with Hindus and Muslims alike. He did an outstanding job of this difficult and thankless assignment.
He had cleared the Kashmir Valley of the enemy and was poised to free the Pakistan-held portion of Kashmir when the war was called off by Nehru, for reasons that have never been revealed. His personal qualities matched his military' talents and experience. As a commander he had a magic touch with both officers and men. This is the highest praise and tribute that can be paid to an officer, a gallant gentleman and an outstanding soldier. He achieved international fame as a result of his work on the International Commission in Korea, in He was one of the few Indians who was nationally famous and who was a potential rival to the prima doima of the Indian stage -- Mr.
He could not be brow-beaten, bullied or summarily dis- missed as Mr. No wonder the Times of India wrote at tire time of his assumption of office, irt March The signal has. For some years prior to becoming Chief, General Tlrimayya had smarted at the neglect of the Army.
Tire Army in turn knew that he was the only General who knew what had to be done and who had the authority to put things right. I knew with what energy and enthusiasm he started trying to repair the damage done to the Army, and I saw his confidence being gradually eroded because he could make little headway against an indifferent and often hostile and ignorant Ministry of Defence, under Mr.
He retired a sad and disillusioned man, his advice regarding China ignored and the Army in the same state of unreadiness for its ordained tasks. In one of his farewell speeches before relinquishing command, he told his audience: As a disciplined officer he had accepted the advice and assurances of his Prime Minister and had withdrawn his resignation. Resignation is the last constitutional resort of a Service Chief in a democratic set-up, to focus national attention on a fundamental issue to give the Nation an opportunity to debate the points of dis- agreement between the Civil and Military authorities.
In a democracy, this is the only safeguard against incompetent, unscrupulous or ambitious politicians. He bravely bore the humiliations heaped on him by Nehru in Parliament, but he was never again the same man. It was a sad end to the most distinguished soldier India is likely to have in decades.
In his last days of office he undoubtedly lost some of his personal hold on the officers and the other Services who resented the withdrawal of his resignation. Some- thing drastic was necessary to move Government to face the realities of a conflict with China or Pakistan, and only Timmy had the necessary stature. I am firmly of the opinion that had he done so, Mr. A second resignation, with the additional disclosure of differences, would have put the pressure on Nehru.
Powerful enemies, many within the Congress Party; a hostile Press and others were waiting to destroy Menon and only General Thimayya could have given, them the excuse and the opportunity. Nehru would have had to face the awkward dilemma of having to sack either Menon or Thimayya.
Had he been forced to sack Menon under strong pressure from Parliament and the Press, he would have been a chastened man. Such a reverse would also have had a salutary effect on his own ego and would have demolished the aura of infallibility and indispensability that was built around him, in spite of the democratic system that was given to us in the Constitution. Nehru also came out of this unsavoury episode the unquestioned master, and now there was no one in the Army to oppose his wrong military polity vis-a-vis China.
He now received advice only from Mr.
A game of chess with posts instead of pawns! Government did not offer him a Governorship or Ambassadorship, when lesser generals were rewarded with such high positions. Employment after retirement General K. I have not read of one instance where an Ambassadorial appointment was questioned by the Press. Force in Cyprus where he died in December , in the saddle. During the years there were serious shortcomings in our National Policy.
We gave the impression of not knowing what we wanted, appeared confused and wavered between the implacable will to fight and a desire to appease the Chinese. We relied on untenable diplomatic assurances to ward off the Pakistan and Chinese threats. We did not initiate diplomatic measures to ensure that we were not isolated in a war with either Pakistan or China. We accepted a situation where we would be per- petually in a state of armed readiness, a suicidal policy for a developing country.
We allowed ourselves to be lulled into complacency by the outward manifestations of friendship with China. When the Chinese threat became unmistakable, we had no ready answer. To sum up, we did not plan for war nor did we have diplomatic ties which would ensure timely aid in the event of war. We frittered away a large portion of our meagre resources without ensuring our security. In , India lacked a firm, unequivocal policy, had no declared friends to assist her against China and no military power to challenge China.
Major-General B. Kaul was promoted Lt. It was widely believed at the time that this was done by Mr. Welles Hangen suggests that Mr. Menon chose Kaul because he Menon felt that Kaul was far to the Left of the other conservative generals in Delhi. Whatever the reasons, the Menon- Kaul era began and these two began to have an in- creasingly decisive voice in policy matters.
The harmony and cohesion of Army HQ were inevitably affected due to the barely concealed antagonism between the Chief and one of his Principal Staff Officers, especially as it was believed that Kaul had the backing of Menon and had access to the Prime Minister. Tliis was a dangerous development, as Army HQ, had to speak with one voice In the crucial years tfratTay ahead.
I left with some misgivings about the future and wondered what was in store for us. The negligence and damage of the years could not easily be repaired. The final prod may well have been provided by the Karam Singh episode of October The Chinese incidents of August and October were beautifully timed.
There was some discord and heart-burning in the relations between the Ministry of Defence and Army HQ, as a result of the Menon- Thimayya clash; the weather in the Himalayas would soon close and we would have little time to move, quarter troops and organise proper administrative arrangements. There was bound to be more than a little dissatisfaction among the troops deployed and. This did happen and the operation started with a lot of heart-burn- ing and mutual recrimination. The Indian jawan does not understand high politics and he blames his officers if things appear to be senseless, pointless and wrong.
Having provoked us and baited us into an un- planned and hasty action, the Chinese retreated to the warmth and comparative comfort of their winter quarters — generally requisitioned monasteries.
On our side troops suffered unspeakable hardships in their first winter, without achieving any worthwhile object. We learnt one more wrong lesson, viz. This Division was organised, equipped and trained for war- fare in the plains -i. Its transport and artillery were unsuitable for mountain warfare.
In fact much heavy equipment was left behind in the foothills and useful man-power was wasted in main- taining this impedimenta. The officers and men were not acclimatised for high altitudes. As usual, compelling political pressure forced the deployment of the wrong troops, at the wrong place and at the wrong time. The actual move was a compulsive reaction to events. The battalion was stationed in the beautiful hill cantonment of Dagshai. Before the officers had embussed a despatch rider from Brigade HQ, arrived with an important message for the Officiating Commanding Officer.
This officer did not disclose the contents of the message till the officers returned from 2 Jats, late at night. He then informed everyone that 4 Division, less a few units, had been ordered to move to NEFA in the next fortnight. The rest of the Brigade concentrated in the following week. The snows had set in and any further advance into the heights of NEFA was ruled out in the prevailing conditions.
To keep the troops occupied a jungle training camp was established at the Foothills camp, about 14 miles from Misamari. There were no roads and no laterals; access to each sector being from the Brahmaputra Valley. There were no shelters for the troops and no animal transport. This precipitate deployment was of no military value, especially as incidents were unlikely in the winter. However there was complete satisfaction in Delhi where maps of NEFA sprouted in the offices of the big Brass, with little pins showing our defence preparations.
A little blue pin-head- can be very satisfying and re- assuring in Delhi. Politicians can get up in the Lok Sabha and assert that Government had initiated military counter-measures to prevent any further incursions by the Chinese.
The deployment and quantum of troops were dictated solely and entirely by the administrative capacity, which was in turn dependent on the available air-lift and supply dropping equipment. There was no question of deploying units or formations to fulfil any assessed task. The induction of the maximum numbers that could be maintained became the end and not the means for implementing operational plans.
If we had any National Policy and National Aim we would have appreciated the futility of sending our men into the wilderness of NEFA, without a purpose and without a military task. The move of the Brigade was not co-ordinated with the civil authorities, i. The move of the Army appeared to be an ad-hoc decision and not as the result of the deliberations of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet.
One responsible civil official is reported to have said, in January I, that Government was considering the withdrawal of the Army.
This attitude prevailed for a long time and was displayed whenever the Army approached the Civil Authority for help in the way of accommo- dation, porters, ponies and so on. They showed apathy and indifference if not actual hostility.
In January , one company of the Gorkhas was sent to establish a camp at Bomdilla. In February a second company was ordered to move to Towang and establish a base.
After undergoing incredible hardships they reached in March. At this time one battalion was located in Dirang and one at Tenga. The Brigade HQ, was at Bomdilla. In one company was sent to Pankentang on the Bumla- Towang axis, and one company to Shakti on the Khenzem ane-T ow ang route. In the initial stages the Regular Army was driven to scrounge some life-saving shelters from the Assam Rifles and the Administration - a ridiculous state of affairs.
The first Gorkha company to reach Towang was lucky to be given one hutment and the Inspection Bungalow. Other administrative arrangements were equally unsatisfactory. There was an amusing story circulating in the Army in those days.
A Lieut. This caused some consternation in the rear. The quotation is obviously not verbatim. One of the main problems faced by the Army was the selection of sites for b uildin g accommodation for the troops. The Civilians were averse to the location of the Army in Towang proper, although it was the only suitable place both tactically and for receiving air-drops on which the garrison relied for survival.
There were the usual conferences to settle this vexed question. At these meetings the Civil would spell out their grandiose plans for developing Towang into a health and holiday resort and brought blue-prints indicating the future location of colleges, parks and housing projects.
The Army was invited to find some other place away from Towang and Pankentang, at 14, feet, was magnani- mously offered to the soldiers. Eventually the matter was settled by some strong-arm tactics by the Commander, Brigadier Ranbir Singh, a tough, blunt Rajput. He then sited the other elements of die Brigade and allotted unit lines without further ado. Thorat, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command wrote an appreciation of the military situation facing us in NEFA, bringing out lucidly and thoroughly the terrain, communications, routes, vital ground and adminis- tration.
He then enunciated the correct strategy to be employed in defending NEFA. I heard that this paper was seen by Mr.
Chavan when he took over in November and he was aghast that we had ignored the advice of this capable General. From the outset General Thorat appreciated that the operative principle was the need to advance from secure bases.
He correctly appreciated that the key to the defence of the Assam plains was around Bomdilla. He had also anticipated the only three routes that the Chinese used in The Chinese spent two months in Kameng after their victory in and would undoubtedly have made copious notes of this fact!
Everyone agreed that any forward move should be undertaken only after consolidating Bomdilla. To put it simply, it was necessary to move from firm base to firm base, and not backward from the political boundaries of the country. Political and military boundaries seldom coincide. The McMahon Line cannot be defended by sitting on it. This se'ft-evident Tact cannot be altered by Parliamentary baiting or pressure of public opinion. Once Government decided to employ the Army to a possible war with China then the only aim should have been the destruction of the intruding Chinese.
The strategic deployment and dispositions of regular troops is dictated solely by the ground and administrative factors. This is even more applicable where the enemy has the political and strategic initiative, as in the case of the Chinese. As we have seen, General Thorat initially deployed only one infantry company in Towang, leaving the rest of the battalion in Bomdilla; and the Brigade further back.
In the context of the border problem with China it may be necessary to set up check-posts, border-posts or flag-posts to establish our claims by physical posses- sion, and to provide day-to-day protection to the civil administration. They must not, however be treated as defended zones or tactical positions, to be defended to the last man and last round.
Government was dominated by the belief that a war with China was unlikely; and were pressed by the political necessity of appearing to defend the entire McMahon Line. In an interview with Mr. Inder Malhotra of the Statesman he has made the following observations: This statement clearly indicates that Menon had imbibed the advice of his military experts. The justifiable dissatis- faction of a few alert Opposition members cannot be used as an excuse for rashness in a moment of crisis.
Then why did he not educate his Opposition colleagues? The second pertinent point is why was public opinion not educated to appreciate the realities of the confrontation with China?
And lasdy were our leaders not to blame for making reassuring statements about our defence preparedness? My own reading is that the public have ieamt a lesson and the present Government has conducted its affairs with commendable courage and restraint.
The reader will recall our dignified and calm reaction to the Chinese threats in the middle of the Indo-Pak War. The last and most notable example was the conduct of the major battle at Nathu La Pass in September After exchanging blow for blow we offered a cease-fire as evidence of our strength and restraint. The Indian public, having faith in their present leadership, was content to leave the matter to Government and made no attempt to hustle the issue.
Public opinion is an unsatisfactory reason for abandoning the basic canons of war. Parliament and the public could then be told that our borders were being adequately guarded. Our politicians had not studied military history, nor did they have the humility to listen to tne advice of capable generals who had.
Indian politicians are the only ones in the world who have had no experience of war. This applies equally to the nabobs of the Ministries of External Affairs and Defence. In difficult terrain, be it mountain, jungle or snow-covered steppe, it is sometimes militarily un- avoidable to trade space for time.
This is a stark military fact. Military history affords many examples to prove this. In war the primary aim is the destruction of enemy forces. It is not the holding of impossible ground for political reasons or the undertaking of operations to appease an aroused public opinion. Both in , when Napoleon invaded Russia and in when Hitler launched an invasion, the Russians drew the advancing armies deep into Russian territory.
Tr d , drc: His better killing ground a? The Here t. On the Indian side the precipitation is great. The mountains are covered in dense forest and thick snow in winter.
Land communi- cations with the area from India are exceptionally difficult. On the Tibetan side, the high plateau, over which the Chinese have built approach roads and airfields is extremely cold but snowfall is light.
The military problem is not the relative size of the Indian or Chinese armies but how many troops each side can maintain in the frontier areas. Brigadier Thompson might well have added the difficulty of finding dropping zones for parachute drops, which were few and far between and very rarely within convenient distance of fonvard troops.
Operations are often dictated by the availability of dropping zones. A delaying action through Towang and Sela Pass, instead of offering pitched battles on unequal terms, might have delayed the Chinese.
Our own build-up. It was suicidal to fight them at a place winch was three hours from a 7-ton roadhead, while our 3-ton roadhead at Misamari was 21 days and the 1-ton roadhead at Towang 6 days away. We relied on air transport, but the scattered drops were of no use to the forward garrisons, apart from the dropping zones being 1 to 3 days carry from the front- line troops.
To complete this discourse on the strategic con- siderations applicable to NEFA, let us review the basic advantages enjoyed by the Chinese. Tibet was a sanctuary, as India could not attack Chinese bases there without going to war. Dalvi was taken as prisoner of war along with the soldiers of his brigade.
He was subsequently imprisoned for six months. Dalvi also records how China had meticulously planned the attack while officially it maintained a different posture. Dalvi also examines the aftermath of the war.
The translated Kannada version has allowed Indian readers to read more about causes for the defeat of the Indian army against China. My Dashboard Get Published. Sign in with your eLibrary Card close. Flag as Inappropriate.
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