An out and out army fiasco

LAC row | India, China agree to ease standoff - The Hindu

[Confrontation in the high desert]

Inattentive to satellite intel, lacking proactive thinking, absent preemptive action and now silk-gloving China’s occupation of Indian territory, the army has to explain this fiasco.

What’s the first, most basic, thing the Indian army should have done once the Border Roads Organization (BRO) began constructing the Siachen lifeline and access road to the strategic Karakoram Pass at the confluence of India and China — the Karakoram Pass-Daulat Beg Oldi-Murgo-Dubruk-Tangtse highway? Why, secure the heights on the approaches to the proposed Karakoram-Tangtse route on the Galwan, Chang-chenmo, and Shyok rivers, of course! Was this done? No! And why weren’t such basic precautionary protection measures taken?

The latest territorial grab by China has gone unaddressed by the army and is particularly egregious in the light of a similar earlier mistake made in Kargil. Except then following the intense 1999 “border war”, the Kargil heights were retaken from the Pakistan army’s unit that had sneaked in during the previous winter months when the Indian army had affected a seasonal withdrawal from the ridge. That war cost the country an awful lot in terms of lives, and military and financial resources. If the army went to war to recover the Kargil heights because otherwise the supply line to Leh would be imperilled, why did it do nothing preemptively to protect the border road, and why is it not enthused about forcibly evicting the PLA from the Galwan, in particular, to guarantee that Indian access to the Siachen Glacier and to the Karakoram Pass remains unimpeded in perpetuity?

Study the map below to identify what lies where.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is UxQt3GI2ytqVPCSI0giIpgvAyNQoNoiR-uz-U6WT4SoM6E3alRymbjLQ8L4h_C4MlVfbkjY6FoPUsI6d45i2MJxQpfGbt_bJ2Zpvq3VbCv3FKJbUxVKVsA0xenZryquqeQnNg9SV
[A map with the main sites in contention clearly marked out, courtesy Lt Gen Oberoi’s piece mentioned in an earlier post]

The army apparently learned nothing from its Kargil experience, because it is being replayed today on the Ladakh front. Far from moving expeditiously and in tandem with the BRO construction to occupy the high points on the mountainous terrain adjoining the proposed highway, XIV Corps and Army HQrs failed to even heed, leave alone react, to the imagery generated by Indian satellites available for a long time now showing PLA construction crews building the infrastructure in the Galwan Valley, for instance. So now India is faced with the entrenched Chinese positions from where PLA can at any time interdict the Siachen supply line and otherwise sever the lines of communications to the Karakoram Pass.

The same do nothingness informed the Indian army’s inaction further south in the terrain stretching from Finger 4 to Finger 8 on the northern shore of the Pangong Lake; this even though the process of the PLA units ensconcing themselves there, like on the Galwan, was no doubt flagged early by the Delhi-based DIPAC (Defence Image Processing and Analysis Centre). By May this year when the army finally stirred into action, it was too late for it to do anything. Because unlike in Kargil, the army was unprepared for and unwilling to undertake hard action. Hence, the army neither advised, nor sought approval, from the Modi government to initiate military operations to rid the Galwan and Pangong Tso heights of the aggressor PLA units. An even worse spin in the context of the availability of the satellite imagery intelligence is that the army knew all along about the PLA build-up to dominate the heights but did not have the stomach for a fight, and so did nothing.

It may be argued by the army that preemptive action of the kind here outlined to occupy the Galwan heights and the areas Finger 4 to Finger 8, on the Pangong would have been a hugely arduous task because it would have involved moving considerable military mass to logistically difficult-to-maintain mountain sites. Except the army has been sustaining and supplying a force deployed in the still more inaccessible Siachen post at a higher altitude for nearly 40 years now. And there are Indian army units continuously undergoing acclamatization for rotational posting on the glacier. So, the army had both the wherewithal and the trained forces to occupy the mountain tops now in Chinese custody.

At the heart of the issue is the apparent unwillingness of the army and government to take actions, whether preemptive or post-PLA ingress, that could escalate into war with China, whence the Indian government and army brass’ inclination from the beginning to rely on diplomacy. Whatever the policy deficiencies of the panda-huggers in Modi’s PMO and the MEA, active monitoring of the Line of Actual Control, being proactive in the field, and making military moves to preempt China, and with the PLA in occupation of Indian claimed territory, to embark on remedial military action, are no part of their remit. At the nuts and bolts level, this is Indian army’s fiasco through and through. Because had the XIV Corps HQrs and the army been on their toes, paid more attention to the PLA activity in the Ladakh region and taken the obvious precautions to secure the heights abutting on the newly-built highway, thereby preventing the PLA from doing what it has done on the Galwan and in the Pangong Tso area, they would have had the Modi government’s approval for it. After all, what choice would the “nationalist” prime minister have had in that context? Instead, India is saddled with a situation.

What exactly was said during the over-long (3 hour) flag meeting June 6 at the Chushul-Moldo post between the Indian army and PLA delegations led by the XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh and the PLA South Xinjiang Military District Commander Major General Liu Lin respectively may never be known, because the anodyne statement about an agreement to keep the peace isn’t especially enlightening. But the meeting and its context has highlighted two things: (1) The Indian army dispatched its commander of the entire Ladakh front, the Chinese only its sector commander — a Major General to India’s Lieutenant General, revealing the differing weight and importance attached by the two sides to the matter at hand, and (2) a parting of the views of the army and the ministry of external affairs (MEA).

“Both sides are disengaging in a phased manner. We have started from the north, the area of the Galwan River. A lot of disengagement has happened,” said the army chief General MM Naravane. “We have had a fruitful dialogue with the Chinese, it will continue and by and by the situation will improve.” He added: “It started with corps commander level talks …which has been followed up by a number of meetings at the local level between commanders of equivalent ranks and as a result of this lot disengagement has taken place. We are hopeful that through this continued dialogue, all perceived differences that we have will be set to rest.” []

Naravane’s disengagement spiel seems to apply to all the friction points on the LAC including Naku La in Sikkim and Galwan and Pangong Lake in Ladakh. His tone, moreover, hints at this whole ruckus being due to some small misunderstanding over an indistinct border, nothing that a bit of pow-wowing won’t clear up. The reality, however, is that there is now permanent stationing of PLA troops deep inside Indian territory in the Galwan and the Pangong sectors. As far as the Chinese are concerned the newly realigned LAC is something India can take it or lump it. There’s no third option, all the talks and negotiating will end up doing is embroider this fact. But it does indicate an Indian army that’s not only not up for a fight to restore the status quo ante but one that is reconciled to accepting the ever newer territorial status quos China with its expansionist actions will keep presenting it with.

The MEA’s unresponsiveness to a pointed question about troops on both sides moving back from their “standoff positions” in Galwan and the Hot Spring areas is puzzling. It also did not refute the fact that the PLA is not allowing Indian patrols beyond Finger 4 on Pangong Tso, which is 8 km from Finger 8 that India considers the LAC, meaning the intervening area (between Fingers 4 and 8) is now effectively under Chinese control ( It directly contradicts Naravane’s statement that the two sides are “disengaging” along the length of the LAC.

This difference in views could mean that while the army, in order to show itself in better light, is deliberately ambiguous and opaque about Chinese annexation, the MEA with less of its reputation to lose is sticking to the reality on the ground indicating ample loss of territory to China, along with India losing face in Asia.

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.
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107 Responses to An out and out army fiasco

  1. Rajesh says:

    Hello Mr. Karnad, In your opinion- has it got anything to do with the abrogation of 370 & 35A too along with the points you mentioned? If Yes, What? Thanks.

    • Not sure why the Art 370/35A issues should impact the choice of military options.

      • manofsan says:

        I don’t see how China’s latest aggression can undo removal of 370 or 35A. Our internal laws aren’t going to be hostage to China. Meanwhile, I want to know if China can sustain these new forward positions throughout the bitterly cold winter months.

      • Issue is definitely linked with Art 370 as it came with the unnecessary Bravado of getting back Aksai Chin. This in turn irritated China massively….later jeopardising entire BRO activity @LEH….

    • BKP says:

      Dear Mr Karnard,
      Your article “An Out and Out Army Fiasco” doesn’t meet the basic tenants of intellectual expression for following reasons:-
      1. Issues raised are non issues and reflect that you are either mixing up LC and LAC or feigning ignorance.
      2. Armed Forces are instruments of Natiinal Power and decision to go to war is political one.
      3. Case of dealing with China is not same as Pakistan.
      4. Right at first minute of any incident, GoI gets to know it.
      5. Issue of intelligence can be best addressed by those who are responsible for it. I request you to educate yourself.
      6. What was discussed in meetings or what action Army takes is known to appropriate corners. You may leave it to Govt to question Army.
      7. Army is not ambiguous but has to ensure operational security. For you it is one story and for Army it actions in the entire continuum of time and space.
      I will humbly request now to spell speculations or doubts about Army. If it is ordered, it will anything that nation wants irrespective of capabilities and equipment imbalances. If it is your Army too, then offer informed questions and leave these pieces of opinions for enemy to make

  2. RG says:

    I wanted to say this earlier but you kindda echo this, COAS Narvane gives the impression hes lazy, like hes got no energy, even the way he speaks.

    What a mess.

    Mr. Karand can the Chief be changed midterm?

    • Sure. ADM Vishnu Bhagwat was sacked by defence minister George Fernandes in December 1998.

      • manofsan says:

        But even with changes to the military decision-makers, what should the new policy/strategy be, going forward? Okay, we can keep crying over the spilt milk, or we can now take stock of what has to be done for the future – what is that?

      • Brig Pradeep Sharma says:

        Can the NSA and CDS be changed? Can we get the responsibility for National Defence transferred to the Army from the Def Secy?

    • Kumar says:

      Every government employee serves at the pleasure of the president.


    Thaks a lot Mr. Karnad for your views on a very relevant topic. According to some experienced Indian security analyst, in the last Xi-Modi meet in Chennai 2019, the Chinese President actually asked India to create a South Asian triumvirate of China-India-Pakistan to resolve the long standing problem of J&K and Ladakh in the face of India’s move on article 370 last August.

    Kindly give your opinion on whether you believe that India should opt for the South Asian triumvirate to resolve J&K ?

    Thanks and regards with best wishes

  4. AamirKahn says:

    Check this out Karnad, if you haven’t already;

    It is almost as if the Chinese are given “experts” like you, the middle finger. Just sayin’ 😀

  5. Satyaki says:

    Is the K-4 MIRV capable with just a 1.4 meter diameter? While it seems to have been tested many times, has it actually been tested with MIRVs ?

    • Depends on the payload geometry with multiple warheads.

      • manofsan says:

        Will better strategic weapons deter China’s conventional escalations/intrusions? Can strategic weapons really do anything significant against “salami-slicing”? Or does that really come down to frontline vigilance?

  6. R yadav says:

    This battle of semantics will get us no where. The only way the issue can be put paid to will be to publish something based on realities like an annotated satellite photo showing the latest situation on the ground specially in the Galwan area. Casting aspersions and pointing fingers at those who question the official line will not ameliorate the threat or get us out of the predicament.

  7. CDS and all the 3 service chiefs were busy preparing for flower throwing tamasha for COVID.
    Where will they get time to prepare for securing borders?

    Whosever idea was it to do that flower throwing tamasha should be sacked.
    Whose idea do you think it was – CDS or Defense Minister or the PM?

    • Brig Pradeep Sharma says:

      Yes! Agreed . So should the NSA and Defence secretary.

    • Vineet Balyan says:

      One should be focused on the primary task not on the prevailing nuances. Getting embroiled in civilian trivias to earn brownie points doesn’t suit professional mil leaders.

  8. RG says:

    Just so u know, ur piece is being endorsed wholeheartedly by Gen H S Panag and Adv Prakash on twitter. I was the first one to share it, I had tagged the Gen .but he would have shared anyway. 🙂

  9. RG says:

    Oops, just by Gen Panang, Adm seems asking for a rebuttal by a civilian analyst sorry ,oversight

  10. Raakesh Baskaran says:

    Mr. Karnad, in view of the deteriorating situation at Ladakh ( I am writing after the deaths of 3 Indian soldiers) , what should India’s strategy be from now on to deal with China? Or is it too late now? Does this mark a watershed moment in how we perceive China?

  11. Rajan K says:

    Mr Karnad,
    The responsibility of guarding the border in that area is of ITBP which have their frontier headquarters in Leh. The home ministry runs its own agenda with clueless IPS officers occupying desks related to border management, yet you are critical of Army’s actions where as this is the responsibility of ITBP. Also, two ministries with different perceptions cannot provide a comprehensive review. Army cannot be omnipresent at every location. The actual blame lies with ITBP and MHA.

    Let us see you talk about their inaction and shortcomings……

  12. Avinash muley says:

    Bharatji, you do have the freedom to express your views, that doesn’t mean you should say something which goes against the indian security. Indian army is doing its best to contain chinese design of expantion. China has its problems, so the PLA. Your strategic evaluation on present crisis have no depth.
    Sino indian border dispute did start much before the Independance. It escalated in 1950s.
    Hence , you must bring out the chise attitude than the mistakes committed by the indian army. You expressed at this crucial time to remove the COAS. What rubbish? If you are a so called defence strategist, learn to use your knowledge in constructive way. Have you ever gone beyond leh? Do you know the extreme inhositable climatic conditions over there? Go and stay there for couple of months in winter. Believe me you will never ever write your ill concieved stratgic wisodom again. Let me know. Sir, its simple to sit in an AC room and see google map and then write those absurd things as defence analyst. But equally difficult to experience on ground.

    • Pray, where have I called for the removal of the COAS, General Naravane? The Indian military is becoming institutionally and operationally sluggish because it has closed itself to criticism.

      • Brig Pradeep Sharma says:

        Sorry! The Indian Army is not sluggish by habit, if at all it is so, its because of ‘Politicisation ‘ by the BJP. Period. Please look at the treatment meted out by this govt on every front. The number of litigation ? The Army is almost on the run. Compare this with the MHA, not a single case of litigation,nor cut in budget. Granted NFFU. Our enemies are watching all this. Where is the morale of the Army? Any guesses?

  13. Ashish says:

    Safe Playing becomes a habit for armies where the only stake is promotion to Major General.
    The Indian Army has been “seemingly” and “outwardly” grappling with mediocrity in Generals ranks, but effectually has tweaked every promotion policy starting Gen VK Singh’s tenure, to marinate the entire process of selection and promotion, in mediocrity.
    The semi-literate political morass does not have the capability of strategic manipulation and shaping of the strategic battlefield. We therefore are destined to fight reactive battles under adverse circumstances and with insufficient resources, depending entirely on the blood & guts of our stupendous rank & file.

  14. RS kutiyal says:

    Borders are best protected by border men grazing their sheep ,& cattle. They are the first sentry. If we don’t let these graze the land, enemy will and claim it. Army & ITBP come during LRPs & recce. We should not stop border villagers from having their herds graze near LAC because this will strengthen Indian claims.

  15. D K Singh says:

    Not true at all. Art 370 not linked at all. Road building interferred with by Chinese patrols

  16. Vivek says:

    Dear Mr Bharat
    Had the previlage of listening to your talk at one of the premier institutes where you commented on the selection of Officers to tenet higher appointments. In that you had squarely held the Polity responsible for what we have at higher echelons. So will it be correct to blame the army squarely for the fiasco or some blame should be shared by beaucracy and politicians also for presenting the nation with fate accompli.
    As the saying goes “What you sow is what you reap” Your views please

  17. SARTAJ says:

    Bharat please let me know if I am off the mark.
    1 Article 370 has definitely impacted the situation. Its revocation was followed by Amit Shah & Rajnath statements to the effect that entire Aksai Chin and POK is next on our radar. This endangered the Chinese at Aksai Chin, their huge huge investments in POK for the CPEC, OBOR projects, their logistics to Pak and Gwadar, and their ego in the South Asia backyard and the whole world at large.
    2. What can we do next? Depends on what we can stomach. We can either evict them by force which will result in a wider all out war, sucking in Pak too. Or we can occupy land in equal or greater measure elsewhere in the unoccupied areas which may be of strategic value to the Chinese. We can then trade off land for land, heights for heights. Or we can work out a political solution at the highest level, trading and adjusting territories, resulting in a permanent solution. Or, as usually happens, we can make a lot of noise, add this to the long list of to-do-things, leave the status quo, and wait for the next ingress. Ingress they will, at a time and place of their choice.

    • There are many assumptions I’d dispute such as your contention that in case India mounts a Kargil-type operation to evict the PLA from Galwan, that (1) there’ll be all-out war, and (2) it will suck in Pakistan.

  18. Jb Mehta says:

    The Army delayed deployment due to Epidemic at Ladakh giving chance to China to shift Forces to this area. Forces you would have to explain if the Crona-virus had effected troops
    The Army leadership should have weighed the problem before delaying redevelopment

  19. Kamaljit singh says:

    The problem is that in this country blame is the name of game, army should have done this or that, but who is there at LAC it’s the the ITBP snd SSB, who report to Home Ministry, which is seldom pro active in such matters also we seldom learn from mistakes, patrolling is required but tell me can patrolling be done only by foot, why not drones, choppers, satellite, still India stays in 18 century in these matters we need to increase our defence budget and be a smart country, and our motto should be 1000 for 1,for that defence forces need to be far far better equipped, no blame only action,

  20. Shri krishan says:

    Whether the army/ css had the mandate do what is stated. Only today the Army had been given power. If CDS had authority, he should have been in Kolkata. His Army Chief was busy making statements like a bureaucrat using non-mil language.Finally it’s the local cdrs who have the responsibility and bear the brunt.

  21. Umesh Kumar Rai says:

    Your analysis of fault lines May have some merit only. Do consider following:
    1. The kind of deployment you seek (and which now seems essential) is impeded by various agreements between 1962 till now.
    2. You talk of aggressive deployment but various CBMs Specify not to carry even arms.
    3. How many times the current critiques ever thought of a two front battle in Siachen? None of the CBMs permit permanent deployment East of Shyok R. Why no deployment done in Dipsang planes after 2013.
    4. When foreign office, govt., and many in media keep arguing for defence cuts as there is no likelihood of major war (even Gen Panag), and starving Armed Forces of resources, which has resulted in strategic military’s imbalance And because of which China feels free to take action with impunity.
    5. And how about current command set up thanks to home, foreign and def ministry.

    • The problem is we sign agreements then stick by them when China treats them like trash paper, and we should too.

      • Umesh Kumar Rai says:

        Your reply is half hearted and unconvincing. You are trying to squarely blame the IA but it is the doing of collective indifference to national security by successive governments who have been deeply misled by officialdom.

      • Umesh Kumar Rai says:

        Who signs? Who are the advisors to such signatures? What is the NSA and his advisors doing or did in the past? In last two months, when did anyone in Delhi i.e. EAM, RM or even PM say that the Agreements with China were violable and void and Army is free to take action as per ground tactical requirement. It is similar story as in CI Ops, fight with hands tied down. Only signal to the nation as a whole was exercise caution. We (EAM) and diplomats will sort it out diplomatically. What has happened at Doklam? Is it a diplomatic victory? China has not vacated its post and in fact build up further. What are the implications of PM statement in all party meet (though now denied by PMO). Why def budgets in real parlance are lesser than even 1962. Why today the PM favours strong retaliation against Pakistan but caution against China? Panag and others are on record saying that there will not be major war just 15 days back. So they are the ones responsible for not being prepared for even a limited war. If ready then why this hesitation on part of decision makers to get in to limited war. Let future unfold and we will further know the courses adopted by the GOI. Unless GOI decides to build up defence capabilities as per real threat perception based on capabilities of enemy and NOT his intent (and diplomatic mirage orchestrated by bureaucrats for turf reasons), this will remain the story. All those who were at helm of affairs are responsible especially for undermining our defence requirements and preparedness .
        You are not commenting on my previous points nor I hope that you will do so now.
        Now you are suggesting occupying heights earlier. Let me tell you that the Army is expert in glacial warfare, but the official position of no firing and that you only dominate by patrolling, forbids deployment especially East of Shyok R and DBO then how is it possible. Even now has someone directed to occupy defences east of Shyok? I do not think so. Forget heights, no one even considered occupation of Finger 4 or 5 in New Delhi and now everyone is seeking cover and passing the buck or keeping quiet. Since ITBP was at Finger 3 under Home Ministry shouldn’t you ask this question to the Home and Cabinet Secretary?

  22. Vibhor says:

    You may conveniently blame the Army sitting in luxurious confines of your office, but, are you even aware that to hold such heights one needs massive infra development to enable soldiers to stay in harsh climate. Which, on the Chinese side is much better as compared to our side, despite the dubious claims by the govt of developing infra, which in actuality lies in shambles. So shouldn’t you be pointing finger in that direction to seek answers from govt as to what it has done to provide funds and mitigate infra development issues?

    • That’s the point I made. Meaning, had the heights been preemptively secured by the army we could have built up the approaches for maintaining year round presence there as the army does in the remoter Siachen glacier at a much higher altitude.

      • Brig Pradeep Sharma says:

        Who would have ordered the occupation? It would have amounted to war. Why doesn’t the Defence Secretary take responsibility?

  23. Iyanna says:


    • Absolutely. The IPS officer-led ITBP is a disaster in eastern Ladakh but has fared well against the Naxals. May be the latter should be its remit not the Tibet border.

      • Brig Pradeep Sharma says:

        They have not fared well in anti Naxal Operations. What about the IAS guys sitting plush and made accountable constitutionally?

  24. MP says:

    Mr Karnad,

    Your article is surely well written and hits the nail. But being the devil’s advocate here, don’t you think that it is majorly the lack of political will, as has been the case in the past too? I have visited the places in question a few years ago, while on a car expedition. Met up with an old friend who showed me these places. I believe it is not as simple as you bring out. I have seen the stature commanded by a CO in a unit. Do you think that people would have let it happen as a ‘blunder’? When Army was given a bit of freedom to operate in Kashmir, it’s effects have been seen by us all. The tally of terrorists eliminated in past few yrs, doesn’t even compare with past 2 decades. If that be the case, why is Army mum on this issue? I think that addressing this question is needed. Being ‘politically correct’ doesn’t answer the complete issue. As I look at it, if you see from the other side of the spyglass, you may find out that you have not seen the whole picture. Look at the economics part of it. I am sure, you must have gone through it, but any warlike situation will ensure Chinese agencies pulling out of important projects in the country- which I’m not sure why they were awarded the contracts in the first place. In the end, I again would like to congratulate you for a very well researched article.
    Jai Hind.

    • Please read my post again: The blunder I refer to is the army’s failure in securing the heights fronting on the new road once its alignment was finalized by BRO, that has led to this situation and if it remains unvacated will imperil the lifeline to Siachen and the Karakorum Pass.

      • LD Sharma says:

        In such a long LAC/LOC Mr Bharat wants Army to secure every inch. Absurd

      • Gunwant says:

        Securing heights along a 255 km valley???
        A corollary….length of LC is 740 km …tps securing it almost amount to 2.5 lacs…a fifth of the same for 255 km means an addl 50,000 tps…or 4-5 divisions approx….raising an addl division means and additional 20,000 crores…I’m sure you can finance the same.

      • Pradeep says:

        The only blame worthy organisation for this fiasco is the Government of India,MOD and Finance. Add to this the NSA and a political appointee CDS.
        The article reeks of an Anti Armed Forces state of mind and a lack of professional ability to analyse details of logistics as well as decission making for such adventurism .
        The added Risk of creating further escalation has always been a threat while pulling the reigns of the Armed Forces a pressing desire amongst Civilian masters of India.
        Sir, at the end I close by saying it’s dissappointing to read such thoughts from some one considered to be a respected Professional.
        I mean no offence , just disappointed .

      • Militaries in democracies are not and shouldn’t be immune from criticism. Indeed, in more mature democracies most of the advanced thinking for the armed services relating to even operational concepts, organizational structures, and policy orientation are done by civilians in thinktanks.

      • Pradeep says:

        Think tanks need to think again! Relate to ground reality. The Indian Armed Forces have progressively been marginalised , litigation on increase, budget reduced , politicisation complete, control by a Cop(NSA) amongst others, priority to MHA & CAPFs and you suggest that the Military should be open to criticism for something beyond their scope ?

      • Rajinder Verma says:

        Posing a difficulty to the Karakoram Pass … Yes … To Siachen??? …. No, absolutely Not !! To say that the Chinese will just walk across 200kms of our Road is being naive. Finally the Government of the day has to decide the PRIORITY. Today the Priority is the Beaurcracy & the Police. The ITBP is good but tell one IPS officer of the ITBP who has walked to Galwan. I know of only who walked to DBO and the Guy was exceptionally fit. And he choose IPS simply because he know the perils of joining the Army !!!

  25. Pradeep says:

    This article is a whole lot of nonsence. Perhaps at the instigation of the NSA? The Army has no control over satelite imagery or RAW or NTRO the Strategic Intelligence Agencies under the NSA Sri Doval.
    Don’t Blane the Army for this. Take it elsewhere . Surprisingly the NSA has gone missing,not heard nor seen?

  26. Umesh Shanndilya says:

    If Mr.Karnad has all this to say now, what prevented hom from saying so earlier. Is it wisdom after the event. Id indeed such a blunder was in the making? and i trust u for that, where were u all this while?

  27. LD Sharma says:

    Writer is highly biased and politically inclined

  28. Grewal says:

    Modi bhakt lagte ho?
    Why didn’t pm pick up the hotline and tell his jhuley wala friend to behave ?

  29. Brig Pradeep Sharma says:

    Its easy to blame without detailing the practical issues and Govts attitude. Unfair to say the least.

  30. Sachin Vashista says:

    Dear Bharat, do you advocate that all heights along entire Pakistan and China border be held by Indian Army? Has someone calculated the price for doing so? Our defence budget is shrinking each year! Can Indian Army decide to up the ante without Govt nod, especially when our leadership, since independence, believes that geopolitical game is played by MEA and through Commerce, with little or no space for Army actions. These are difficult questions, we may think in one way today and another way tomorrow, based on our convenience to opine. Finally my salute to the valiant jawaans of our Army who fought with bare hands, at sickening heights, in the hours of darkness for every inch of our motherland. Jai Hind

  31. Don’t you think Mr. Karnard that by saying Indian Army does not have stomach to fight you are defaming a fighting force which has a history full of glory, and as far as Kargil Conflict is concerned it is not the army to blame, please get your facts correct moreover the LAC is not manned by Bunkers and sangars rather the LAC is patrolled. so your suggestion of dominating the heights, which you must have made sitting in an AC room with a cuppa are vague. It is better to keep your thought to yourself and let us do what we do. Please I request you do not talk about my stomach. As a serving officer in the army, I am quite displeased.

    • Armies, like any social organization, tend to change, get better or deteriorate over time. Owing solely to the Indian government’s political decision 1947 onwards to de-emphasize the hard power of the state, the Indian military’s fighting edge has got blunted.

      • Rajinder Verma says:

        True !!!

      • Pradeep says:

        It would be correct for you to advise the Government suggesting that the Mountain Strike Corps, Reduction of Defense Budget were imprudent deccissions requiring a review.
        Politicisation and ‘ Missuse’ of the Armed Forces results in its degenerating into a quasi Civil Defense Force , thus employing them at Beck and call for Yoga, waste management, bands & flowers etc is best avoided. Apparently the Military hierarchy lack courage to say so.

      • Well come and see then, or send your son, you will realise the fighting edge we have .

  32. Rajinder Verma says:

    We could barely touch those “Patrolling Points”. We had to do mountaineering to reach those spots where the Chinese Drive in with 8*8 vehicles. If Bharat Karnad is told to cook a meal for his family “in a spoon” would he even attempt it 😡😡😡??? This fiasco was waiting to happen ever since ’62. Why did our Road reach DBO in 2018/19? The cost of the ENTIRE CHINA STUDY GROUP Roads is less than the cost of the DhaulaKhuan to Jaipur Highway. What ought to be the PRIORITY you decide !!! You get what you pay for and not what you desire !!!

  33. Devendra says:

    Is it true they have captured Indian part of the Galvan valley?
    As per Nitin Gokhale they have not intruded into Indian area in the Galwan Valley.

    • The latter is the official Army view. It doesn’t conform with the reality on the ground. Yesterday India Today TV showed imagery procured from commercial satellite data vendors photographs of the extensive PLA buildup in Indian territory on the Galwan.

      • Rajesh says:

        Army of lions being led by goats, getting directions from blinds and being supervise by unaccountable Lord’s.

      • Niraj says:

        How do you call yourself an expert on the subject? A researched knowledge without any experience on ground. Is it practical what you are saying in your article and blaming Army for this? Have a heart Mr Karnad, there are hoards of people to throw bookish knowledge…you need to be better.

      • Sameer says:

        Do we trust India Today, how do they know the demarcation if there is any that the constr is on Indian side.

      • You can buy realtime satellite imagery these days and there re many vendors. This is what India Today with the resources did.

  34. Kumar says:

    Mr Karnad, you held/hold important portfolio with regard to national security. Where were you all this time? Now that an incident has occurred, you come out to forefront to put entire blame on Indian Army – the only organisation left in the country with some character and faith of people.

    Your article is highly demoralising and highly politicaly motivated, may be by BJP itself…… what next?? Governor of some state?

  35. Vijaysharma says:

    Why single out army , are the agencies like RAW, IB and satellite imagery collation agencies just to spy and settle local political scores? What about NSA the super cop of URI fame? 😭

  36. Atul Subodh says:

    The Siachen is compromised. To take back Galwan the only option is to go to war. If you don’t take a war, China will comeback every now and than at different places and India has to give up. India has one and only chance now to fight back, with the help of US, and few Asian friendly countries. There is no other way. If India pushes back China now just like Kargil, will have upper hand forever, otherwise lose forever.

  37. Ranbir says:

    Well Mr Karnad has his air conditioned views and he is within his rights to pontificate. But sad that, many take his views as gospel…..and those given by the Army as heretic
    Shame on you guys. Believe in your Army implicitly and take views of such analysts as another view amongst many. The way Karnad says things is only helping to lower the morale of our own troops, especially those at the locations. Sadly, we have become a nation of believers of fake and bad news.

    If Mr Karnad has brilliant ideas, he can write to the RM and the Chiefs one to one when ops are on. Later when things cool, he can come out in the open with his analysis.

    • Critical analysis and comment don’t help once the dust settles. What I have been saying is known and agreeable to people out in the field but, perhaps, not to the brass in Delhi.

      • Ranbir says:

        Rather unfortunate. But surely the Brass has many other inputs too, and yours is just one of them.
        Yet I must say that there are many points brought out by you that are relevant but merit wider consultation and discussion before adoption.

  38. Chen says:

    The defence of country is responsibility of Defence Secretary. As per business rules of government Defence Ministry is part of government. Army is an attached HQ with no say in matters of even defence.
    Why is the defence secretary who is responsible for defence and draws a huge pay for heading the Ministry of Defence silent. Why is no question ever posed to one who is responsible and accountable? Ignorance of citizens I guess.

    • Rajinder Verma says:

      Because the Army was not forceful enough …. The defence secretary has to be caught by his Jewels when things are Not in National Interest …. Some try to suck upto him only for Postings …. Such idiots undermine the System !!! How many Lieutenant Generals do you know of who have ticked off the Defence Secretary … I guess such anecdotes are extremely extremely Rare and that is the Reason the Defence Secretary is in the Pink of Health !!! Government after all is only the art of survival …. It’s the poor Boys who get had and loose their Skin … Neither Generals nor Secretaries loose too much Sleep but 20 are lost!!! That’s the sad part about soldiering …. You die due to the Stupidity of the 10th Guy !!!

  39. Brig DK Badola says:

    Dear Mr Karnad,
    You have very rightly said that before the BRO started the work on Darbuk, Shyok, Daulat Begh Oldi road the Army should have secured the heights. Very rightly analysed tactically . Now kindly clarify the following?
    1. How many heights would need to be occupied on the 255 km road?
    2. How many battalions would be required to occupy those heights?
    3. What infrastructure would be required on the heights to sustain the troops?
    4. During winters as no movement would be possible on the heights so they would require winter stocking for atleast 5 months? How long would that take?
    5. You expect IA to occupy the watershed on the LAC?
    Would that not be against the CBMs?
    6. And finally where will these troops come from? Now dont say get them from peace areas when most of the indians feel homesick after being away from the family for one week you cant grudge the soldier his 2 years of peace tenure after 2 to 3 years in field.
    You have mentioned about kargil war and what IA has done now. Let me tell you IA has doubled the troops there to plug the gaps from where Pak had intruded by denuding the troops from J and K. That resulted in increase in terrorism in the valley which has come under control now only after 20 years.
    So sir please let the Govt give additional troops and additional funds for the suggestions you give and IA will be more than happy to carry it out. But in the meantime like one of our Brigade Cmanders after the kargil war used to say…”you have a bottle of cream, it’s up to you to apply on the face or else where.”
    In the meantime this is the best IA can do.

    • You have correctly laid out the problems. Will dispense with Qs 1-4 because that’s professional assessment. Q#6 is a comment and you are welcome to it. Re: Q#5 about the nature of the LAC: Have argued that India’s problem has always been we adhere slavishly to the letter of agreements we sign. No major power does that, especially not a would be great power.

      But there are more fundamental solutions we need to implement to address some of the problems you imply or have alluded to. One, the Indian army has to revert to 7-year colour service so we have a youthful fighting fit force at all times, and the soldiery phasing out should be the exclusive channel for recruitment to all paramilitaries and provincial armed constabularies, thus creating a trained manpower pool that will need only some reorientation when entering the paramils. And secondly, we have to go in for radical restructuring of forces and reasonable redistribution of resources, with China threat needing the primary attention, not Pakistan. Given the general paucity of financial resources, the built up capability against China cannot be an additionality (whence the need to demobilize the three strike corps usable only in the west — a sheer misuse of scarce funds. These and other recommendations were made in my classified report to the 10th Finance Commission submitted to the Narasimnha Rao govt in 1995. I was then Adviser, Defence Expenditure, to the FC.

    • Pradeep says:

      Lets see if this answers your observations to an extent:-
      1. It is for the IA to do an appre and inden hts to be occupied.
      2. Basic requirement is to protect the Engr TF.
      3. Occupation does not have to be all time/all year round, it can /could have been need based to keep in line with the TF progress.
      4. Other than that, an area where the NSA and his resources seemed to have failed /messed up is that of surveillance. Both our area of interest & area of influence should have been monitored.
      5. As far as budgeting goes, a Nation has to draw out it’s priorities. India has a unique situation where we are faced with a Conflict of Interest in our immediate surroundings , if we need to secure/protect our National Interest we must invest in it.
      6. Our failing is in treating the Armed Forces like a Security Guard…first to be fired in any financial down turn! Second is a lack of vision document which results in the absence of forward planning as far as Defence Forces go.

  40. T.R.Ramaswami says:

    In the terrain obtaining there, the army cannot see beyond the next ridge of mountains. Chinese activities in the rear can only be discerned by satellites. Now who has control over these satellites – NTRO? – and what is the SOP or protocols in reporting unusual or more than normal activities to the forces on the ground so that they are prepared? Was satellite info shared with the army or the usual civil war between our own forces ensured info was too late? Shouldn’t the army have direct access to satellites over areas where they are responsible for defence? And incidentally the defence of the country as per GOI Rules of Business, 1961, is the responsibility of the Defence Secretary. Have we heard one sound from this person? Should he not be called to give an explanation?

    • The services should have direct and immediate access to the raw satellite intel as also the processed DIPAC reports. Except RAW is the prime receiver and dispenser of this data. And yes “civil war” between govt agencies delays transmission to the mil. But Doval and PMO get a direct feed,

  41. Kumar says:

    That’s the bitter truth. We would be wise to accept it. Seems no lessons have been learned from Kargil.
    Author has left out complicity of ITBP and problems of dual control.
    It’s high time a comprehensive retook of higher defence management is undertaken but not by the people who are the problem.
    Let’s think out of the box and bring in some consultants from Israel.

  42. SP says:

    Very easy to say Indian Army should occupy the heights, have you ever visited the Galwan, Hotspring and heights dominating Pangong Tso?

  43. vivek says:

    I guess the person who has written this article has no idea about how information flows in the national security infrastructure ….
    institutions called iB and RAW are supposed to have some responsibilities
    There are institutions who are supposed to collate entire information and provide independent opinion for corobration and conclusion…..failure of them
    What about failure of the govt , the NSA who is always jumping to take credit for the successes by the armed forces
    Lastly the mighty IPS lobby who holds the reigns of the BSF/itbp/

    • Brig Pradeep Sharma says:

      In effect, it is the MOD, MHA & NSA who messed up but the Army is being blamed as usual!If the Govt cannot formulate a practical and effective National Security Policy/Strategy or is not competent to frame one, do not go about blaming the army. Why are thye RM and Def Secy as well as NSA silent?

      • Rajinder Verma says:

        I have been regularly amazed at the wheel within wheels setup in government where Responsibility is the only aspect that can never be fixed with any measure of certainly. Efficiency is measured in sticking to archaic rules and only creating delay which finally costs pots of tax payer Monies. Sad !!!

      • U K Rai says:

        It has been my take from the very beginning. The foreign office has always maintained that there is likely hood of war. Even today the ex foreign secy cum EAM reiterates same after five months of Chinese aggressive action. The Finance and Home keep allotting funds and funds for welfare and free distribution undermining national security. If Army has not developed deterrent ability it is they who are to blame. It is time to research a cost benefit analysis of expenditure of our national resources and whether the priority goals have been achieved. Most of the monies have likely been siphoned off by the bureaucratic machinery at the centre and in the states.

  44. Pradeep says:

    On the contrary ,each time the army has asked for equipment and projected an increased budget it has been the Babu as well as Mantary jee who has shot it down and also rejected the idea of a ‘two ‘ front war. The MEA has in no statement mentioned the likelihood of a war with China.
    The Army is not its own lord and master and rely on funds allocated by the Govt.
    Yes our leadership not just this one but over at least two decades has not been forceful enough in pressing for equipment, technology, status and so forth. I dare say they have lost the confidence and trust once enjoyed.

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