Tipnis seeking exoneration

Last Sunday (Nov 25) at a seminar called by the Centre for Security & Strategy in Chandigarh, was on the panel alongwith ACM(ret) Anil Tipnis, Gen. (ret) Ved Malik discussing China and how to deal with it. Except Tipnis used the occasion to correct the misperceptions of IAF’s role in Kargil in 1999 that, he believes, have marred both his and the Service’s reputation. The non-response by IAF when called on by the army for attack helicopter support has been the subject of much speculation, all redounding to the disbenefit of the air force’s unwillingness to go into action. I am not fully conversant with the details of the “rules of business” that the armed services are supposed to follow in a situation where one service finds itself in a jam — with the completely wrong assessment and inept handling of the situation by Lt Gen Kishen Pal, GOC 15 Corps once the intrusion was detected — by grazers, not the army field intelligence, and finds a sister service  reluctant to rush to its rescue. Tipnis made much of the fact that some parts of the Kargil report were blacked out, censored, before it was published — which he claimed was the crucial evidence the public didn’t get to see exonerating him of the charge of command failure or at least failure of nerve. He cited various rules, etc. but the thrust of his remarks was that as  IAF chief he needed an express directive/permission from the government to enter in support of army operations to evict the Pak Northern Light Infantry from the heights. Much of what Tipnis said and the way he said it was to goad the then army chief, Malik, to respond. The General refused to rise to Tipnis’ occasion because as Malik said to me, sotto voce, as the ACM was walking to the lectern — ”Oh, there he goes again” or exasperated words to that effect, which suggests such interaction had happened earlier. There was, of course, a distinct cold-correctness between Tipnis and Malik, reflecting the strained relations between them and their respective services during the Kargil crisis. It still leaves the main question unanawered — should Tipnis have not responded thus: Will asses the situation pronto and get back to you on what actions the IAF proposes to take to assist the army ops, rather than talk bureaucratese about directives, etc.?

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, India's Pakistan Policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Pakistan, Pakistan military. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tipnis seeking exoneration

  1. Shaurya says:

    Any links to transcript, audio, video – could not find any, except for some news items that only have selected quotes. Thanks.

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