Maddening CDS-cum-Military Theaterisation Muddle (Augmented)

Bipin Rawat Takes Charge as India's First CDS - See Pics
Hail CDS!

India’s first Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, has been visible and vocal the past few months on television and public forums explaining what his priorities are, starting with the theaterisation of military commands. Both the CDS and theaterization were recommended by the 1999 Kargil Committee chaired by the late K. Subrahmanyham. These were part of the reforms the Committee had suggested to realize ‘jointness’, absent which the country had managed to put one over the Pakistan army in the last border conflict but at great cost.

India and Indians can’t be thankful enough that there’s always the Pakistan army to rescue us from our military follies because, unmindful of its resource limitations, it screws up by not thinking strategically before lurching into action.

The lack of coordination (owing to the then air chief, Anil Tipnis, not satisfied with an ask for help by the army chief General Ved Malik, insisting on a written directive from the government to use aircraft) led to the Indian Air Force taking no part in the first two weeks of the hostilities. And when it finally was activated, it did so with armed helicopters which were promptly shot down as was a combat aircraft logging, in the process, a startling attrition rate and all inside the first few hours of deployment. The reason the IAF offered for this fiasco was that it had not prepared for war in the mountains!

In line with how the Indian system works — the country got the body first — the Integrated Defence Staff, the supposed secretariat for CDS, as recommended by the Kargil Committee, before the Indian government realized, some 20 years later, that something was missing and around 2019 attached a head, namely, the CDS, to the IDS body. Thereafter, moving with commendable speed, it filled this newly created post with the then soon-to-retire army chief, General Rawat, the sort of grounded infantryman anyone would be happy to take advice from.

But before being pitched headlong into the chair, Rawat failed, apparently, to take the precaution of inquiring from the government about his role, what was expected of him by way of agenda and priorities and, most importantly, what slate of powers the CDS post would be endowed with as these powers would have to be carved out of the decisionmaking turf the services chiefs lord over. This was necessary in order to implement decisions that would require the CDS to work through, over and around the inevitably resisting services chiefs of staff, each of them zealously protective of his own part of the field and preventing encroachment of any kind by any body. Once in the CDS’s chair, Rawat realized he was the proverbial fifth wheel of a running vehicle and served no useful purpose.

For all the pomp and ceremony attending on his CDS position Rawat found himself, in effect, as nothing more than head of the Integrated Defence Staff, but with bigger office and perks. For the Services chiefs he was an imposition but as primus inter pares (first among equals) and so designated by the Cabinet Committee as the single point source of military advice to the Defence Minister and, hence, the government, he could, in theory, insert himself in the military decision-making process with more consequence than the chairman, chiefs of staff committee (CCoSC) in the previous schema could. Except, the CCoSC was an established institution and over the years a gentleman’s understanding had evolved. Because the senior most serving chief served as chairman, each service chief would get his turn and, as chairman, had the opportunity to serve his service’s interests, push his service’s pet projects and programmes. Now insert into this mix a fourth four star but take out the old structure and what you get is a new player who is as much nuisance as inconvenience. It was a recipe for gumming up the works.

To correct this mess, the government then compounded it by creating without much thought or deliberation an organization for a CDS to head and so the country got yet another department of government — the grand sounding Department of Military Affairs (DMA), because IDS HQrs, a subordinate entity, obviously wouldn’t do. So DMA is now in place with a near full establishment on paper — AdSecs, Joint Secs, etc. Except no one from the superior civil services or the armed services wants to serve in it, because it is still a stand alone appendage with no real standing or power. Why, because, again, Rawat, in a tearing hurry to become secretary to government forgot that as army chief he was principal secretary to the government and, as a former CCOS pointed out to me, heading the DMA is actually a substantive demotion. In effect then, all the services chiefs actually bureaucraticaly outrank the CDS and head of DMA, Rawat!

And because Rawat didn’t take care before taking the job of fleshing out the power and authority of the CDS, which he could have done by exploiting to the max his Pauri-Garhwal connections to the powers that be, he and the CDS post are in the unenviable position of remaining transfixed between and betwixt. Because ultimate decisions, short of the PM, pertaining to national defence are still made by the Defence Secretary who retains the responsibility for the country’s military security, and outranks the CDS in every respect!

So, one can see why Rawat cannot push the theaterization of military commands through with the IAF standing in the way. The CAS Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria explained in a TV intervew that his service was not against theaterization per se, but rather that it wants it done just “right”. Of course, if the IAF had its way, it will never happen because it is loath for the sake of jointness or anything else to give up its operational prerogatives and control over its assets. But for the deadlines set by the government, this would be grist for endless disagreement without closure. The IAF, more than the self-confident navy, has always been reluctant to dilute its separate corporate identity even if for a good cause. And it has not fought shy to go to any extent.

Just how petty the IAF can get was revealed by a former commander-in-chief (CINC) of the integrated Andaman Command — the first demonstration project for jointness. He reveals how the IAF refused, for instance, to cede its land to the Command, land where the CINC hoped to build living quarters and recreational facilities for IAF and other military personnel on base, at a time when airmen were living in tents. And not to give ground even in matters of protocol, he recalls how airmen waiting for a service bus invariably failed to salute the CINC passing in his car because he was from another service and how they went to great lengths to avoid doing so. When this CINC asked the IAF chief at the time about it, he was told that that was because the IAF men did not have their caps on. To avoid such protocol situations from arising the IAF component commander, under instructions from IAF Hqrs, then changed the location of the bus stop!

The Andaman Command experience points to the major issue at the core of the integration problem. The authority to write annual confidential reports (ACRs) of officers, which defines the limits of the CINC. In the current circumstances, CINC, Andaman Command, writes the ACRs of his deputy from a different service and of each of the component commanders. Except the final vested authority on the ACRs rests with the services chiefs in Delhi. Should the deputy chief or any of the component commanders act in any way considered detrimental to the interests of the service as determined by the chief, well he and his ACR are fixed, promotion prospects marred. In other words, even in an integrated setup, loyalty to the parent service is paramount or an officer gets it in the neck, hardly the incentive for officers serving in integrated commands to feel loyalty for the joint setup. Or, for the Command to come up with optimized battle plans and crisis solutions involving use of all resources. So what would the falloff be in terms of the Command’s military efficiency and effectiveness? I reckon it would not be insignificant.

A simple reform of making the CINC the final authority in ACR writing will do more to generate loyalty in an integrated military structure than all the endless gassifying on the subject by politicians and militarymen. This is the stickiest point and no service chief will make concession. It requires the defence minister and, if he is averse, the prime minister to simply lay down the law and, by diktat, affect this change. No debate on the topic, no discussion, no endless file pushing in the Defence ministry, no nonsense!

The other immediate issue are the proposed plans for theaterization. The trouble with them is their byzantine nature. There’s so much opacity and such a tangle of crossed lines it is hard to know whose authority will work when, where, and how, and over what. For instance, Rawat in a recent TV interview talked about his priority — the proposed integrated air defence command that will make a single commander in charge of all air space management, including all air activity by assets held by the three armed services, this to avoid, as he put it, fratricidal kills. (See .) These air assets are inclusive of everything from the army’s longrange artillery firing shells to 40 km range because at apogee they reach 15 km altitude in their ballistic course, drones, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, to combat and transport aircraft, in other words every last thing of military use that flies.

Then Rawat talked of the extant complication: He tried to explain why because of the live borders with Pakistan and with China, the IAF’s northern and western air commands will continue as they are. He did not clarify just how all the flying objects with these two air commands will fold into the air management scheme overseen by CINC, Air Defence Command, and how utter confusion can be prevented. Untangling the operational control over the multitude of assets in these three commands will be a nightmarish exercise with what results will be decided by the outcome of the next war!

The aforementioned fomer Andaman command CINC believes there’s no way to resolve such problems other than for the three armed services chiefs to sit around a table with, perhaps, the CDS presiding, and working out just how and where the fighting assets in particular are to be distributed, located and controlled at literally every moment in time — which aspect will become crucial in case of crisis and hostilities. This is inherently difficult business, and the CDS and his staff will have to work the details out with Bhaduaria, Admiral Karambir Singh and General MM Naravane and their respective staffs, and find appropriately dynamic solutions.

The rest of us can only hope and pray our adversaries will show some consideration and not thrust a war on us before the three services chiefs and the CDS iron out the integration wrinkles.

On the larger issue of military integration, however, the minimum that is expected of the CDS is that he will be familiar with the other two services, their inventories, their capabilities, and of the whole host of specialist skills and competences they represent and embody. In this respect, Rawat has disappointed. He has not shown the necessary knowledge of, leave alone insights into, even the basics of air and naval warfare. Just how deficient he is in his appreciation was showcased by his calling the air force a mere “supporting arm” which, in this day and age, is inexcusable and almost a goad to the IAF to stand its ground against theaterization. Not content, Rawat then almost revelled in his ignorance of the differences in combat flying conducted by the air force and the navy. Sounding verily like one of the generalist babus populating the defence ministry, who can’t tell the business end of a gun from their elbow, he said he can’t see why IAF pilots cannot fly their aircraft off carrier decks, and naval pilots their planes from air bases!! In Rawat’s mind, flying is flying — what’s the big deal?!! The small matter of the vast and consequential differences in aircraft and in combat flying over land and at sea off aircraft carriers is for him of little concern. Ooh, boy!!!

With Rawat as CDS, the Modi government better begin to worry about the sort of military “integration” that may materialize under his charge, and its overall effects on the armed forces’ efficiency and effectiveness.

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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55 Responses to Maddening CDS-cum-Military Theaterisation Muddle (Augmented)

  1. San Mann says:

    Prof Karnad, was wondering what your take is on the emerging new Afghan situation, and what it portends for India. From the reports I’ve seen, the Taliban seem to be taking over key border districts without much resistance, mainly because they’ve suddenly got lots of money to hand out to Afghan govt soldiers to persuade them not to fight. Since deadbeat Pakistan isn’t exactly rolling in money, it’s worth asking where all this cash is coming from. The usual spin doctors are conveniently claiming that Taliban have lots of drug money on hand to spend, which rather contradicts previous staged narratives about Taliban cracking down on the drug trade. To me, it seems entirely possible that China is behind this, and is using its deep pockets to route money via Pakistan to the Taliban forces, with the goal of delivering Afghanistan as a reliable land bridge to Iran. A strategic bargain between China and Iran would have far-reaching implications, which could re-draw the map of the Middle East and undermine American power in the region in a major way. It would also have the effect of reducing Pakistan’s utility to China in the longer run, after Pakistan fulfills its immediate role of delivering Afghanistan for China’s strategic purposes. Indeed, Pakistan would then no longer be of any economic utility to China’s Belt & Road once supplanted by Iran, and its only utility to China would be military, in serving as a proxy to distract India. This would be akin to North Korea’s relationship with China, where it again has no economic utility, and only serves as military proxy to distract Japan. In that scenario, I would expect Pakistan to end up like North Korea, where only the military is kept fed, while the general population starves. Perhaps the North Koreans can teach the Pakistanis how to eat grass.

    • Pakistanis, in fact, learned how to have nuclear missiles from China but how to flourish with them by eating grass from the North Koreans. See my “Countering the rogue nuclear triad of China, Pakistan and North Korea”, dated 25 July 2016 in The Wire at

    • Amit says:

      @San Mann,
      Your point about lower utility of Pakistan to China after it develops a stronger relationship with Iran was something I too thought might happen, which in a perverse way might induce Pakistan to seek to normalise relations with India. But Iran is being wooed by India too and knowing how Iranians negotiate, they will probably hedge their bets and keep China guessing. China on the other hand will try to ensure that Pakistan remains hostile to India, and turn Iran against it. This is where I think China will not abandon Pakistan as it will want both routes open, CPEC to encircle India and Iran to manage Pakistan and/or to avoid its risks.

      But if Pakistan’s utility to China goes down, and it loses traction with the US (it already has to an extent), Pakistan could open its doors to India. Then there is Russia too. It’s a heady mix…so very interesting to see what happens.

      • San Mann says:

        India is more vulnerable to US pressure than China, as shown by India’s decision to stop purchasing Iranian oil. Iran would likely be more protective of Shia territories in Afghanistan, but while China might accommodate that, it’s not clear that Pakistan would. This might be where Iran could hedge its bets by collaborating with India to keep Shia areas outside of Tailban/Pakistani control. Hopefully China itself would see the benefits of an Afghanistan that is not entirely under the control of one faction, as this would allow China more choice of which Afghan factions (and territorial routes) to deal with.

  2. By email from Admiral Sunil Lanba, former Chief of the Naval Staff
    Sat, 10 July at 11:10 am

    Dear Bharat,

    Thanks. Makes interesting reading, you have hit a lot of nails on the head. The start point of the whole process should be a National Security Strategy. The NSS will determine what organization and structures are needed to meet it. At the moment we are putting the horse before the cart and we will continue to muddle through. There is also confusion between Functional and Geographic Theatre Command. The most important is the Higher Defence Organisation needed in Delhi, which is absent.

    Warm regards,

    • Amorphous says:

      We always reform the armed forces first. I wonder why? Women join them as officers first. We have no such regulatory mechanism for the parliamentary bodies even state forget the corporate. Turf wars are inevitable. Here the author has highlighted one side only. Sadly every coin has two sides. As the CNS so rightly brought out, NSS is probably the first step. If we don’t have that in place where is the direction coming from?

  3. Pradeep says:

    I wonder if the armed forces have carried out an in-depth study? Costs of relocating assets down the line to the maintenance and other support issues? Time required for becoming operational subsequent to the theaterisation?

    • There may be some sketchy papers but, as far as I know, no such detailed studies have been carried out.

      • Pradeep says:

        Thank you for a well thought out article which amply clears the air and demystifies the jig saw created by this Govt.
        As ever, National Security seems to have taken second place to personal favours ,somewhat like the 1962 appointment of a Chief!
        How can one expect an efficient and effective war fighting machine when the mind is foggy?
        Rawat was too keen to lap up this post ( apparently created in a hurry to reward him ?) and lacked the good sense of getting his position, role and responsibilities cleared!
        Also if I may add, he does lack an in depth knowledge of the other two . A mere look at the re allocation of assets, time, effort, funds would reflect the challenges posed!
        While the AF is reluctant to acknowledge and salute Army officers( personal experience at Amritsar where I lived in AF accommodation) , to allocate their resources ab initio may not be wise and would perhaps deprive us of the much desired flexibility?!
        Perhaps an in depth analysis of what is required in each theatre, the location, operational reach, shortfalls and how to overcome them is necessary before making changes. Lastly of course is retaining preparedness to respond to any act hostile in nature by both China & Pakistan.
        Unfortunately, the defence secretary and the minister have no clue about National Strategy and National Interests.
        We remain stuck with both feet in quick sand!
        Look at Drones making headlines, they uncovered the lack of preparedness. There wasn’t sufficient awareness about their uses during Op Parakram!

  4. By email from Lt Gen Kamal Davar (Retd), the first Director-General, Defence Intelligence Agency.
    Kamal Davar
    To: bharat karnad
    Sat, 10 July at 4:15 pm

    Hi Bharat—- your piece made me sad but at the end I could not resist a laugh ! Suggest put something like this in the national media too for greater attention. Have circulated it too.

    Kamal Davar

  5. By email, from Vice Admiral Harinder Singh, who retired as CINC, Southern Naval Command

    harinder singh
    bharat karnad
    Sat, 10 July at 7:39 pm


    Let me also put on record that the book [by Lambeth on the IAF] is a product of inputs mainly from the IAF. As far as Kargil ops are concerned , I was the DCNS, looked after Naval ops and was present at every meeting/discussion/briefing and also when [Prime Minister] Mr Vajpayee gave the permission. What you have written is closest to the truth as far as Kargil Ops are concerned.


  6. Email from Air Marshal Harish Masand (Retd)
    bharat karnad
    Sat, 10 July at 7:28 pm


    I see two factual errors in your post.

    Firstly, The KRC did not talk of or recommend theaterization.

    Secondly, on lack of coordination and Air Chief Tipnis asking for written instructions as you put it, you may like to see the recorded facts by Benjamin Lambeth in “Air Power at 18,000′: The Indian Air Force in the Kargil War” published by Carnegie Endowment for International peace, amongst others.

    Warm regards,



    I would love to know with regards to our decision to shift a whole Army strike corps and corresponding IAF squadrones to the Ladakh border. This means that we are now more or less 1:1 when it comes to LOC with regards to Pakistan. With Taliban taking more control in Afghanistan , India’s options in Baluchistan will be lesser with a pro-Pakistan and pro-Chinese Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan. Does it mean that now India needs to prepare for a two-front scenario ?

  8. By Email From Lt Gen (Retd) SL Narasimhan, Member of the National Security Advisory Board
    Sun, 11 July at 8:08 am

    Such articles depict the blissful ignorance and lack of understanding of the functioning of the government.

  9. All I have done in my post is write it on the basis of the established narrative (on Kargil), my correspondence with senior militarymen, , on General Rawat’s and ACM Bhadauria’s televised statements, and on my soundings of what happens in government and in mil circles. General Narasimhan should kindly take the time and point out where and which part of my blog-post, in his estimation, is wrong and reflects “blissful ignorance”. This broad-brush dismissal won’t do and is actually a cop-out.

  10. Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh (R) says:

    As expected you have hit the nail on its head (particularly regarding the CDS). Rawat in his haste to become CDS was easily ambushed by the Babus to accept the ridiculous charter. The Task Force (Arun Singh) had recommended for VCDS to head DMA,which as can be seen handles routine admin and financial matters. Then thru pronouncements Rawat sought to become Commander-in-Chief India. Despite 18 months of harangue no clear concept has emerged. And this is in fact what he should have focused on.And not ridiculous (at least for the Navy) Tour of Duty and blowing of Shankhs for indigenization of military traditions/culture.

  11. By email, from former Chief of the Army Staff, General Ved Malik
    Ved Malik
    bharat karnad

    Sun, 11 July at 1:13 pm

    Am monitoring this correspondence…..
    A foreigner [Lambeth] writes the truth in his paper but people who have participated, even written, cannot be believed. 😊😀

  12. Sankar says:

    “The reason the IAF offered for this fiasco was that it had not prepared for war in the mountains!” –
    Not sure how to evaluate this judgment.

    First, due to technological limitations, the Air Force will be the last arm to fall back on in mountain warfare – target acquisition by radar is spurious due to multipath interference caused by reflection from neighboring peaks, and bombing and strafing go astray on slopes. Even then in the final count, the IAF gave the body blow to the Pak in the final days of Kargil by their laser-guided bombs using the Mirage enabling the Army to dislodge the intruders.

    AM Tipnis has tried to set the record straight in his response to finger-pointing to IAF in one of the Issues of IDR in the context. He had first to ensure the defense of all the forward bases and cities before he could go to war and that took time. War does not break out all of a sudden – it takes long preparation by the enemy to mount an attack. Thus, the forces need to be fully alerted in advance by the intelligence that something is brewing to be prepared for immediate action. The army intelligence was a complete failure for Kargil to happen and there lies the clue.

    The late strategist AC Jasjit Singh has also recorded (I forget the reference to it) that providence saved the day for India in Kargil. That year snow started melting too early in the mountain – sometime in late-March-early April – normally that happens in May. The local shepherds then went with their herd on the surrounding mountains and found the Pak soldiers. They had immediately reported to their base and the security about it. But it fell on deaf ears of the Indian Army in the area.

    Gen Malik needs to explain why he had dismissed the report of Pak intrusion when first informed as nothing unusual when he was on an overseas trip. In particular, as pointed out by Col. Ajay Shukla, the higher officers in the Army had passed on their gross incompetence and negligence of duty on the shoulder of a hapless Brigadier to take the blame.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      Well, we all know the condition of all government departments from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Nothing moves unless palms are greased.

      I really pity the mindset of Indians, who believe that the country’s armed forces are beyond questioning. They are so brave blah blah.

      Have we ever considered how easy it is to compromise the army leadership just by offering them 3 W’s (Wine, Women and Wealth)
      This is just a piece of cake for Russia (erstwhile USSR), US plus the latest entrant in the geopolitical leadership game, China.

      As for India, we are mere paper tigers, available for sale to the highest bidder.

      • BP says:

        You have negative Indian mentality who thinks nobody contributes. There are so many good people in all spheres in India who are contributing in govt, paramilitary, policy , Defense services, civil services. You have Highly negative mindset and upbringing as if nothing good has been seen.

  13. Ganesh Surath says:

    The last 70 years political masters have been psyched with a fixation by the bureaucracy that powerful Chief(CDS) at the helm will be a threat to the government in power. No wonder it has taken so long to get a a CDS and that too first among the equals. They do not understand the commitment of the Armed Forces to the Constitution of India. They fully understand that India will remain fully integrated and United under democratic India rather than a military regime. The diversity inherent in this country dictates a democratic approach than a dictatorial.
    The bogey of a military take over being fed to the politicians has to be put to rest and a new chapter putting full trust in the Armed forces has to begin.
    The MOD needs to be headed by a domain expert as the Defence Minister and the National Security and Geopolitical doctrines have to flow out with all stake holders in the government involved. Unless this happens the evolving of Theatre commands will not be on a sound footing.
    There has to be a political will and total trust in the Armed Forces to carry out these changes.
    In case the looking over the shoulder syndrome persists in the Government in power then be prepared for the setbacks and delays in implementing and operationalizing Theatre Commands.
    The recent controversy regarding employment of AF, which can trigger a cascade of other problems as you try to mix and match to come up with a viable solution.
    In the higher direction of war, competence, capability and understanding the national security threats at various levels of command and control is the way forward to achieve our goals.

  14. Lt Gen Sahrawat TS says:

    The article betrays the knowledge of an arm chair self styled strategist .
    Kargil Committe did not recommend Theatrision, it recommended jointness which has to be achieved by establishing efficient joint procedures in planning, training & execution.
    HQ IDS established is most suited to jointness at Apex level. It lacked a senior person to head it which has been provided for by establishing CDS.Had there been HQ IDS in existence at the time of Kargil, there would have been joint planning & no controversy on provision of air support.
    CDS wears two hats, that of CDS & Secretary DMA. As CDS he heads IDS, which carries out professional jointness at apex level. During recent Ladakh operations, Services presented a tri service approach & effecitively checkmated China due to joint planning faciliated by HQ IDS
    The second hat worn by CDS is of Secretary DMA, under which he is part of MOD. He is nominated as Secretary since highest executive appointment which exercises powers of Govt , incl finincial powers and per rules of buisness is designated as Secretary. There is no principal Secretary in Govt of India, Karnad should know that. CDS though designated as Secretary, ranks along with Service Chiefs higher than Defenence Secretary. Subjects to be dealt by them both have been clearly spelt out in Govt orders
    Below Service HQs we need jointness, for which Theaterisation is not the only solution.
    As far as criticism of Gen Rawat of his professional competence by Karnad is concerned, the same if not more can be said of Karnad of his insight into matters military.

    • Curious this, but searched the Net and found no reference anywhere to “Lt Gen Sahrawat TS”. However, “Lt Gen BS Sahrawat” does find a mention and is identified as having retired as head of the National Cadet Corps. Not sure if this is one and the same person.

      Now to the more substantive points:

      1) I will not contest “Lt Gen Sahrawat TS’s” view of my competence and expertise or the lack thereof as a strategist. He is welcome to his view. I’ll stand on my books and writings over 40 years and my tenure as Adviser, Defence Expenditure to the 10th Finance Commission chaired by the former Defence Minister, the late KC Pant, and as Member of the first National Securty Advisory Board and member of the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group.

      I will however point out that the qualifiers “arm chair” and “self-styled” are pejoratives referring to my supposedly amateur-status in strategic matters. Inherent in this view is the conceit of many militarymen that a military careerist is ipso facto an expert in strategic affairs. All military analysts, not ex-Servicemen, therefore, are automatically suspect as strategists. The truth is most Indian officers spend their careers honing military tactics and are rarely involved in making strategy. This tactical mindedness is why the late General Hanut Singh once observed about the army brass that he had not encountered a single general who could envision a battlefield beyond the regimental level! This has been borne out, barring the 1971 War — thank you General Sagat Singh and Admiral SM Nanda! — by the country’s fairly pedestrian military record post-1947.

      2) The Kargil Committee recommended the need for “jointness”. Jointness, I said in a paper I presented at an army seminar in Bangalore many years back, is the penultimate stage in the dovetailing of the three armed services, the final stage being integration, with the first two stages in this process being cooperation and coordination. I concluded, regretfully, that the Indian military was still at the first stage of “cooperation” in which, insofar as the involvement of another service is needed for completing a mission, it is obtained by calling on a batchmate or relying on friendship with a counterpart officer from that service, for help. Coordination means more formal engagement and some institutional interfaces, with jointness and integration reflecting progressively greater and seamless levels of meshing of the three services doctrinally, organizationally and functionally. So, yes, I used integration as synonym for jointness — but to me this is a quibble.

      3) No, there’s no principal secretary in GOI. But insofar as the Services chiefs are still fully in-charge of their own services and run them as they see fit (within the established norms, rules of business, etc), the DMA in the present system with IDS at its core and headed by the CDS with only minor financial authority, etc., is largely superfluous. And, moreover, as “part of MOD”, Secretary, DMA, is clearly subordinate to the Defence Secretary , however unambiguously the turf may have been divided by “Govt orders”.

      4) Had “Lt Gen Sahrawat TS” suggested that General Rawat was befuddled — this happens — by TV lights, cameras, etc and simply mis-spoke about combat flying, then that would have been understandable. Instead, he uses the CDS’ crucifying himself with his own words, as platform for questioning my credentials. General Rawat deserves more sensible defence by his champions.

    • Sankar says:

      Lt Gen Sharawat TS@ – Please could you first prove your credentials as ” Army Lt Gen” – past or present – as this has been challenged? Until such time you are an imposter in this forum.

      Even then, I am taken aback by your disparaging volley — “an arm chair self styled strategist”. Professor Karnad has international standing as a strategist in India…how come you are dismissing him in the context? I also differ from him on some issues, but that does not mean he is wrong and he should be addressed as you are doing.

      It is just an unsubstantiated bravado when you claim “a tri service approach & effecitively checkmated China” – the ground reality is that the Indian army cannot enter Depsang plane where they have been patrolling in the past as Lt Gen Panag and Lt Gen Houda have pointed out. By all accounts, India has lost 1000sq km of her sovereign territory to China.

      I look forward to your response.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Sankar- Excellent reply to this self styled Army Lt. General.

        He has disappeared.

        Indian army has ended up with egg on its face in this confrontation with China. Political as well as the military leadership both share the blame for this fiasco.

      • Amorphous says:


  15. Tony says:

    I do not think anything of Han, a cowardly non religious everything goes eating civilization. As far as tech and big stuff is concerned Yankee is the King and the Queen by huge margin. And see what the rag tag mujahideen did to them and to the Reds before. I have full faith in thestupidity of Pakistani generals in terms of strategy. What worries me is the will of 56 inch Indian politicians to make hard decisions.

  16. Rudr says:

    How secure are we health wise?
    WHO recommend 1:1000 doctor ratio , in India it’s way off ; Bihar it’s 1:28,000.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @ Rudr- Simple solution, make it compulsory for every elected politician MLA, M.P, C.M etc that he/she will not get any medical reimbursement for his/her treatment at any private hospital or abroad.

      Every politician will only get free treatment at the government hospital located in his/her constituency.

      Just by doing the aforesaid, the condition of all government hospitals will improve drastically within 6 months.

  17. Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd says:

    Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd
    Gaurav Tyagi @ –
    I have not disappeared anywhere. Just busy in something
    important. Will soon get back to your & Sankar’ observations.

  18. Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd says:

    Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd
    This is an open forum to express one’s views on the ongoing issues & does not require pre establishment of credentials, in any case neither have you established your credentials. Credentials get automatically established with what one brings on the table.I would not have liked to join the issue with you but for your unwanted aggression of calling me imposter when I had not even interacted with you in my post. As a quid pro quo allow me to return the compliment by calling you an imposter, standing up for someone else & doing his bidding.
    Now let us get down to professional buisness.

    On the recommendation of Kargil Review Committe report,Govt issued instructions of raising of a tri-service Orgnisation called HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) in 2020 to carry out jointness & integrated planning at the apex level of the Services. The appointment of CDS as recommended by the Kargil Committe report was carried out twenty years later in year 2020. The govt has gone further and created the appointment of CDS as dual hatted, with CDS as head of IDS outside the MOD & as Secretary DMA with in the MOD for good reasons. More on this later.
    HQ IDS has a number of interservice integrated verticals staffed by officers from all three services & headed by three star officers from all three Services. A foreign affairs adviser too is to be appointed in the IDS. IDS carries out tri- service annalysis of the issues before it. It has evolved a joint doctrine, carries out jointness & integrated operational planning at the apex level, jointness in a number of aspects of inter- service training etc. It plans an integrated balanced capability development of all three Services in the pursuance of military strategy. All Capital procurement are vetted by the IDS to ensure integrated balanced capability development by the Service concerned before these are put up put up to the Defence Acquisation Council for approval, where IDS is also a member. This besides the creation of an integrated balanced capability, has also led to optimum utilisation of Capital Defence Budget, some of which would have been wasted by the competitive projection of requirements of the three Services as per their individual perceptions of capability development. With the appointment of CDS as the head of IDS as a single point adviser to the Govt & as such empowered to overrule the Sercice HQs when ever a service tends to be in solo mode on an issue, the jointness & integration by the IDS is bound to improve further. For Mr Karnad to be dismissive of the IDS displays the lack of awareness of the ongoing reality as would be done by an arm chair strategist.

    During recent Ladakh stand off, the speed of moblisation of men & material in an highaltitude area & signalling of projection of a Naval threat at the Mallaca Strait simultaneously displays jointness & integrated operational planning facilitated by IDS. There was no Kargil type controversy of air support being provided timely or not, due to integrated planning facilitated by the IDS. All three Services were institunally were on the same page.Capturing of difficult heights in high altitude terrain of Eastern Ladakh in the face of the enemy to force him to withdraw speaks volumes of professionalism of Indian Armed Forces lauded by the professional armed forces all over the world , a performance which only a unprofessional self styled strategist will tend to denigerate. The push back given to the Chinese who consider themselves global power has not only shocked them but has raised the national moral and done away with the ghosts of 1962. Your observations on Chinese presence in Depsang are not accurate.I will not go into these due to security reasons. Chinese aggression in Ladakh was like that of a street thug who suddenly draws out a gun & shoots two persons, till the time the police comes & catches him. Political resolve of Modi Govt & professionalism will ensure the desired results.

    Since 1947 Indian Armed Forces have won all wars & battles for the country except one. Can that be said of a more modern US army. One had to look at war in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq & Afganistan to name a few. A small country like Vietnam got the better of China. Thefefor for anyone to opain that the performance of Indian Armed Forces as pedestrian since 1947 can only be the work of an arm chair strategist.

    Theaterisaion has become a buzz word with strategists who insist that interservice jointness can only be brought about by placing elements one service under the command the other is not true. There are many ways to implement jointness , interservice affiliation of resources is one. Every country needs to establish it’s architecture & procedures for jointness as per it’s peculiar security environment & resources.

    I do not hold a brief for Gen Rawat. But to make disparaging remarks in a public discourse by a person, irrespective of high opinion he may have of himself as a strategist, against the Top Military leader selected by the Govt is indecent & such a person loses the shield of being a holy cow.

    • “Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd” @ — Cannot resist responding to your response directed at Sankar@.

      I’m relieved a “Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd” has replied. I scoured the internet once again and still came up empty on “LTG Sahrawat TS, Retd”. This is strange because officers of this high rank always leave a trace. But because so far in my searches I have found none, I am compelled to conclude that this moniker is being used by some person, or even group of persons, of military provenance, who are posing as a retired Lieutenant General of the Indian Army to make points regarding my post that he/they don’t formally want to own up to. There’s something, well, not quite right about this.

      Be that as it may, the disquisition on the IDS and its role while informative, was irrelevant except as an exercise to set up a strawman to mow down because nowhere in my post have I been “dismissive” about the IDS. I merely stated a fact that as a subordinate entity it was felt necessary to form the DMA with IDS at its core, which fact the “Lt General” confirms.

      And, of course, there’s no one path to military jointness. That said, because the CDS minus the fifth star does not outrank the Services Chiefs, over-ruling the latters’ decisions will have to be done sparingly and then with the prior concurrence and support of the Defence Secretary and even higher-ups in the PMO.

      And finally re: General Rawat’s eye-raising remarks on combat flying by air force and naval pilots at the “global security summit” broadcast by India Today TV. “LTG Sahrawat TS” does not, thank God!, claim the CDS was correct in his statements, but rather that I was “indecent” in “disparaging” the public comments by “the Top Military leader selected by the Govt”. One would have thought that it is reasonable in a democracy to question anybody in a position of high responsibility in the military and/or government for making outlandish remarks. I didn’t realize though that doing so would lose me the “shield of being a holy cow”. I am thrilled, moreover, to be accorded the status of a “holy cow”, alas, now unprotected!! Wow! I am tickled plenty. I have no doubt General Rawat has a thick enough skin and is having a laugh too!

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Lt Gen. Sahrawat- “Your observations on Chinese presence in Depsang are not accurate.I will not go into these due to security reasons”

      This is the best excuse; hide ones failures citing the official secrets act. You can only convince the ruling establishment fan base by such absurd statements.

      Btw, if you folks have been victorious against the Chinese in last years confrontation then why is Indian foreign minister going on repeating the same statement like a broken record?

      Refer to the news link at the top of this comment.

      Jaishanker is desperately begging the Chinese to vacate the areas, which they captured last year.

      Chinese forces didn’t intrude in the Indian territory all of a sudden. The build up was gradual.

      The million dollar question is what were the Indian forces doing at that time?

      Were they sleeping on their job or deliberately ignored the intrusions?

    • Amorphous says:

      You apparently forgot Sri Lanka. Is it a victory as per you?

  19. Sankar says:

    @General Ved Malik:
    I was checking your book “Kargil”. But I could not trace anywhere your confirmation about Prof Karnad’s statement in his post that
    “The lack of coordination (owing to the then air chief, Anil Tipnis, not satisfied with an ask for help by the army chief General Ved Malik, insisting on a written directive from the government to use aircraft) led to the Indian Air Force taking no part in the first two weeks of the hostilities. And when it finally was activated…” –
    In fact on p.124, you write:
    “… On behalf of COSC, I then sought permission for the use of air power …. I had been told … the minister for external affairs, Jaswant Singh, had opposed the use of air power in the CCS meeting on 18 May….”
    Again on p.131 you write:
    “The IAF responded very quickly after the CCS approved of the employment of air power on our side of LoC.”
    It is impossible to go through your record line-by-line here, but I get the impression by reading your book that there was perfect “jointness” or collaboration from a professional viewpoint in that war.
    Again on p.133: “All these developments led to a very integrated approach to ‘war management’ …”

    Could you please clarify to me about operational bottlenecks if there were any in the military circle in the past decades that needed straightening out by the creation of the post of CDS. To me, it seems from the records there has been ‘harmony’ so far, practically achievable, which is not possible to improve upon.

  20. Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd. says:

    Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd
    Bharat Karnard @-

    Firstly let me assure you that Lt Gen Sahrawat TS is not a moniker being used by some one.I am a person in blood & flesh. I have met you also when I was still in service in the rank at which I retired & spent approx an hour in a discussion with you. So let it not bother you that a ghost is chasing you. Now coming down to substantive issues.

    Distinguished members of Kargil Review Commitee were expierenced & wise to recommend an IDS type of tri- service orgnisation to promote jointness in Services in an institutional manner at the apex level. IDS has proved to be the appropriate orgnisation to ensure jointness & integrated planning in all aspects of Armed Forces at the Apex level as has been proved by seamless operations of Armef Forces at land, air & sea during the Chinese aggression in Ladakh, about which I have adequately written in my previous post. The challenge is now to get the seemless jointnese going down the line in an institutional manner for which we need to develop an Indian Model which is not necessarily Theaterisation.

    Designation of CDS as Secretary DMA, though not recommended by the Kargil Committe is a good
    innovation by Modi Govt. This places him in the Government with his small ministry staff keeping a large professional military HQ IDS led by CDS outside the ministary . Military subjects which required domain specialisation in handling in the Def Ministary & were so far being handeled by generalist civil service officers led by Def Secretary have now been shifted to the Secy DMA , which has also lightened the load f of Def Sectetary. Secy DMA is not subordinate to Def Secretary as you seem to obliquely suggest & neither is Def Secretary subordinate to Secretary DMA. Both have their independent charter & report directly to RM.Files of Secretary DMA are not routed through Defence Secretary or otherwise. In case of a difference of opinion on file even between the RM & the Secretary DMA, as per the rules of buisness the file has to go to Cabinet Seretary for consideration of PM. Your contention that Sectetary DMA has minor finincial powers is unfounded. He has full finincial powers of a Secretary to the GOI, which are more than the finincial powers of Service Chiefs though Service Chiefs outrank the Secretaries to GOI. As far as order of precedence of CDS is concerned, he along with Service Chiefs is placed a notch below the Cabiney Secretary but way above Secretaries to GOI. Your contention that a CDS will need support the Def Secretary to overrule a Service Chief is unfounded. A CDS is the single point advisor to the RM & his advise will carry weight with the RM, though Service Chiefs will also continue have direct access to the RM. So a very balanced system has been created by the Modi Govt. Once DMA stabilises, I am sure more service related subjects presently being handle by civil servants in the MOD
    will be shifted to DMA over the years, albeit with a turf battle b’caus no body wants to shed what may be called juicy subjects now retained by the civilian part of the MOD.

    ‘Theater’ is generally referred to an geographical area where military operations will be independent of other Theaters, such as Pacific & Central Commands of US. Every country has it’s own pecularties. US military primarily functions in expeditanory mode, which India does not. US has sufficient military resource to allot it abinito to it’s Theater Commands, where as India does not have such military resources. Indo- Pak & Indo- China land border is constantly manned by a large force where as US does not have this problem . In India Air Power can be quickly diverted from one sector to another, which cannot be done in case of US Theater Commands which are widely separated. In US system Theater Commanders directly report to the Secretary of Defence who is equivalent to our RM & he is the Commandig Officer of the Theater Commanders. In Indian system if we adopt the Thrater system they are to report to Chiefs of Staft Committe. Who will have the power of command over them. CDS as per Govt notification is an advisor & is not to have any direct command. Therefor jointness & integration of combat power in India will have to be obtained in a different way in an the Indian Model which requires a debate at academic & military levels.Therefor an architecture for jointness should not be created in a hurry. We should get it right. I am sure that serving leadership of Armed Forces with political, beauricatic & academic inputs will be up to the task & get it right.

  21. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @BP- And you seem to have an attitude, wherein you view everything with rose tinted glasses. Stay in your fantasyland.

  22. Sankar says:

    @Lt Gen Sahrawat T.S., retd.:
    First, let me point out that your views as expressed in this forum stand at variance, if not contradictory in claims, to what other high ranking army officers (your erstwhile colleagues I suppose) have presented either in writing or in TV interviews (NDTV, India Today, …) since Indian Army’s Ladakh standoff with PLA erupted a year ago and which I have come across in the public domain. When I mention army officers, I mean Col Shukla, or Lt Gen Panag, or Maj Gen Ashok Mehta and some others, and their records are available in the archives. I have yet to find someone among them who would agree with you in an overall sense. This wide gulf in expert views must raise doubt in mind about the authenticity of someone who is juxtaposed to the other military experts. And that is what I queried in my first post to you. I am sorry to have ruffled your feathers thereby. I hope that settles that matter.

    You say here, “There was no Kargil type controversy of air support being provided timely or not”. Could you please explain why the then Army Chief Gen Mailk’s has not recorded any “controversy” in his book on “Kargil”? If you read my post to him here, he in fact writes to the contrary for the Kargil operation.

    Furthermore, “Your observations on Chinese presence in Depsang are not accurate.I will not go into these due to security reasons.” –

    This is not convincing to accept. I find “security reasons” is a red herring. We are not asking details on any underground tunnels the Indian Army dug in Ladakh or the specifics of the weapons used or maneuvers or the encryption of military communication in the battle field, all that constitute military secrecy. The issue is about status quo on LAC as the Indian Army says – this is ground position held by our Army and patrolling territory etc which are in the open. There is nothing to hide, there is satellite observation to determine and so on. I recall here a TV interview when first the Chinese intrusion came out in the open a year ago, the former FS Shiv Shankar Menon set the record straight for China’s deception tactics on territorial expansion. From time to time PLA would advance their position on the ground by two steps, and then start negotiation with India and as a compromise step one step back with creation of “buffer”s on the Indian side of the line held. Then PLA would consolidate their hold on that area grabbed and again start their intrusion elsewhere. India has been succumbing to that all along even now in Ladakh. I need to be explicit here with record:

    “China managed to get the strategic Chushul heights vacated on the cheap but India is portraying the partial disengagement as victory” – “…It is fair to assume that for China, the disengagement process is over with Beijing managing to get the strategic Chushul heights vacated on the cheap. The reference to “difficulty in practical cooperation” will make future military and civilian dialogue on restoration of status quo ante April 2020 highly unlikely — certainly not before July 1, the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary conclave. India’s readiness to make concessions to China comes straight out of Jaishankar’s book ‘The India Way: Strategies For An Uncertain World’. … Indian Generals’ prominent reference to Chinese disengagement from the lakes as “loss of faith” was seen as insulting (and beginning of practical difficulties). The PLA’s withdrawal from the Fingers area was traded for vacation of the strategic Chushul heights they had occupied for the first time since 1962. Yielding the key bargaining chip for an immediate political imperative — provincial elections — may prove costly …” -Maj Gen A.S.Mehta

    Here is Lt Gen Panag:
    “… Let me reiterate that Depsang Plains and Gogra-Hot Springs continue to be our critical vulnerabilities and the Chinese have no intent to withdraw from there. The withdrawal from the North and South bank of Pangong Tso was a “stand-alone agreement” with no commitments from China to disengage from other sectors. Note the alleged contemptuous quote attributed to the Chinese in the recent talks — India “should be happy with what has been achieved”.
    In a nutshell, the endeavour of the unofficial spokesperson(s) of the government is to obfuscate the reality and shape public opinion, possibly for an ‘unfavourable disengagement’ in Depsang Plains and Gogra-Hot Springs.” –

    There are other expert military assessments available on India’s capitulation on the border. As I have noted, your position of “checkmate” China is at variance with the ground reality in Ladakh.

  23. Sahrawat TS Retd says:

    Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd.
    Sankar, 13 Jul 6 30 pm @-

    In your post you have stated ‘ Just an unsubstainted bravado when you (ie I) claim a tri- service approach & ( Armed Forces) effectly checkmated China’

    In my post dt 14 Jul 6.05 pm, I have clearly brought out that the mechanism for institutional tri-service jointness at the apex level
    was brought out by raising of HQ IDS, as recommended by the Kargil Review Committe. This jointness in operational planning led to quick moblisation of the air power, effective support by IAF to facilitate quick moblisation by the army in Ladakh and moblisation by navy for naval operarions in the area of Mallaca Strait, along with a political resolve gave a clear message to China that the nation was ready to meet the Chinese aggression in Ladakh. There after occupation of Kailash range in difficult high altitude area in face of the enemy forcing his withdrawal
    withdrawal from his entrenched positions in Finger Area is not an unsubstianted bravado but a real success which has become a case study by many armies. To avoid repetition I need not write more on it, it has been adequately covered in my post dt 14 Jul.

    An operational success can only be exploited to a certain extent. Occupation of Kailash Range can not be exploited to solve the problem of Indo China LAC dispute !! The aim of the operation to occupy Kailash Range was to evict the Chinese from their well entrenched positions from the Finger area where they were so sure to stay on for ever, that they had even painted a Chinese map in this area which could be seen even from high up in the air. As far as Depsang is concerned it is a legacy issue & has wheels with in wheels. You have stated that some of my colleagues have a different view about it, sure they have. I am not going comment on them except say that
    equal number of serving & vetren officers have opposit view & have articulated it a number of times on the TV debates.

    I have not stated that Gen Malik has stated about any controversy
    about support by IAF in his book. The controversy had been created by some defence experts & strategists. What I have stated is that institunal jointness brought about by HQ IDS during operations in Ladakh at the apex level has led to timely & adequate support by the IAF & as such there was no controversy (as brought about so called experts during Kargil operations)

    Indo China LAC is neither delineated nor demarcated & each side has it’s own perception about it. In Ladakh the LAC was not held by Army as Indo Pak LC is. Indo-China LAC was largely patrolled by the ITBP. Both sides were expected to respect various agreements arrived by both the govts about tha LAC. So called slimi slicing of Indian territory, when ever it occurred,was promptly reported to the UPA Govt during whose period such incidents took place. But if the UPA Govt had a policy of a acquiescence to the Chinese, the Army can not help.
    I will be responding to the post of Mr Gaurav Tyagi later.

    • Sankar says:

      Thank you for your prompt response which has clarified your stand on the recent Ladakh imbroglio as a high-ranking military officer, but to my understanding, it has raised the fundamental issue in India’s strategic policy regarding national defense vis-a-vis the northern border which I like to take up from my understanding of India as a nation-state in today’s world.

      But first to your statement:
      “…. The controversy had been created by some defence experts & strategists.”
      with the implication that the matter could not be taken seriously.

      But who were these “defence experts” – do you include high-ranking military officers among them? Here is a documented record by Lt Gen Mohan Bhandari with whom I had corresponded in the past:

      “The IAF did show hesitancy to come on board in the initial phase of the Kargil Operations. During the absence of the Army Chief from 10 May to 20 May 1999, the Chief of Air Staff took over the duties of the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (COSC) as well. In one of the early COSC meetings held at the Military Operations Room, Air Chief Marshal Tipnis almost gave a shut up call to the VCOAS who was requesting for air support.”
      In sum, it was not a “controversy”, it was the reality, so to say, for the Kargil episode.

      On the Kailash – Despang clash it is not for the non-military men to decide, whether the army can stand up to China or not, what is of concern is that India has lost huge sovereign territory to China due to her bankrupt foreign as well as defense policy. I accept that the military officers can differ on their views here, but not on the fact that a chunk of the motherland has been sacrificed to China which to my count a number of retd army commanders have also very well articulated and expressed concern. And this was also what ex FS Shiv Shankar Menon clearly voiced in his past interview (I have noted it previously) and implied that the Indian Army must regain such territory from somewhere else which would thwart further ingress by PLA or “checkmate” China.

      Now to the crux of the problem is as you say :
      “Indo China LAC is neither delineated nor demarcated & each side has it’s own perception about it.” –
      First, the borders of nation-states are drawn by fighting wars, not by acquiescence which has been India’s policy for many years now, but not in the years just after independence in 1947 (more of it later) – so the question of delineation or demarcation does not arise. Remember that Churchill observed that peace is achieved only by the threat of war.

      I wish the Indian political and military leadership acquire the European mindset in the context to further India’s interest in the world at large. It is brainwashing to accept something as “each side has it’s own perception about it”. The question of perception does not arise for China, China says it is their sovereign territory. Who are the Indians to declare for China that they have a perception?

      It reminds the military history of young India just after independence. The first C-in-C of the Indian Army was Sir Roy Bucher, a Briton. Coming to know of PLA’s impending invasion in Lhasa, he started preparation of sending army battalions to India’s border with Tibet. But when PM Nehru got the wind of this, he called a cabinet meeting and charged the C-in-C of misdemeanor accusing him of colonial mindset. Later he was sent packing in Britain. There ended India’s boundary demarcation issue with her northern border. Now it has to be secured by fighting war, a prospect the military must accept without dillydallying.

  24. Amit says:

    Agree with General Sahrawat that the Indian Armed forces did a good job in repelling further salami slicing by the Chinese and the action on the Kailash range. Also agree with him on jointness in dealing with China this time around. But it is also true that there was lack of action or a failure of intelligence in understanding Chinese motives in Spring 2020 in Ladakh. Whether that was a political or intelligence failure, I’m not sure.

    I also agree that the Depsang issue is a legacy issue, festered by UPA pusillanimity. However, this is a problem with a democracy. One party’s problem and another party’s problem. So much for nationalism! I agree with Prof. Karnad here that India should have hard balled China on Depsang after having occupied Kailash. It is also a shame that it took 20 years for many Kargil reforms to be implemented. This is a general problem with India (maybe many large countries). While the Ladakh game is still ongoing, India does not have any bargaining chips to achieve its goals in Depsang. Maybe it will take years to resolve like the 1987 issue with China.

  25. Sahrawat TS, Retd says:

    Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd
    Gaurav Tyagi 15 Jul,4:11 AM @-

    To your statement that ‘ Chinese forces did not intrude into India
    all of a sudden. The build up was gradual….was the Army sleeping (subsequent comment) ‘
    Please be advised that Aksai Chin is a high altitude desert. Chinese Eastern highway passing through Aksai Chin is a about 150 Kms from the LAC & the lateral roads emerging from Eastern Highway through Aksai Chin desert provide a swift movement across it to the LAC. One requires only small Forces, which can easily move swiftly in Aksai Chin from Eastern Highway for initial occupation of the vacant areas astride the LAC. The rest can gradually build up. Indian Army could have also suddenly moved up to the LAC & carried out occupation of unmanned LAC at any time.But we operate in accordance with the various agreements signed by both the govts, to maintain peace & tranquality on the LAC & do not get involved in rouge actions.As to your comment that ‘ was the Army sleeping.’ No it was not.You may be aware that acquisition of trans border intelligence is the responsibility of the R& AW & not that of the Army which had also failed to provide timely intelligence during Kargil. Army did a commendable job by carrying out a quick moblisation once it got to know of the Chinese movement which surprised the Chinese.

    Your statement ‘ victorious (Indian Armed Forces)against the Chinese, why Jaishankar is going around like a broken record desperately begging the Chinese’
    Firstly as far as victory is concerned occupation of Kailash Range in a brilliant operation by the Army forcing the withdrawal of entrenched ‘mighty’ PLA(Chinese Army) which had taken it’s occupation of Finger Area as permanent is a Victory. Forced withdrawal by the ‘mighty’ PLA has been a loss of face by China throughout the world over, therfore it is a Victory. By standing up to the PLA, with five times the defence budget that of Indian Armed Forces has raised the moral & confidence of the nation, therefor it is a Victory. I am afraid that your choice of words for the Foreign Minister that ‘he is begging desperately’ can hardly be a part of a civilised discourse. The Foreign Minister is pursuing diplomacy to resolve the complex issues retaining to the LAC, including Depsang which is a legacy issue about which I have written sufficiently in my earlier post.

    Briefly coming to the India China boundary issue. As we are aware that China claims 90000 sq km of area South of McMohan line in the Eastern Sector, ie the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh, where as India claims 38000 sq Km of area presently under their occupation. Till 1954 our maps showed Indo China boundary in Ladakh as undemarcated. In 1954 India unilaterally decided to adopt the Kunlun Range as it’s boundary with China without any negotiation with China. In 1960 Chinese Priemer Zhao-in- lai visited Delhi & proposed to PM Nehru to have a swap with China giving up their claim in the Eastern Sector with India giving up it’s claimed in the Western Sector, ie Ladakh. Nehru stated that there was ‘nothing to discuss on boundry issue’.Amongst other literature, Books ‘ India’s relations with China’ by Zorawar Daulet Singh & Mohan Guruswamy & ‘ India’s China Challenge’ by Ananth Krishnan clearly bring out that arguments on claims of both sides can be countered by each other with an argument against the other , since all these claims have some chink in their armour. The boundary issue cannot be solved with Indian legalist approach.It can only be solved by a political approach based on principal of give & take ie swap. Neither side can assume that My Way is the Highway. The only pragmatic route to boundary settlement is by way of a political approach adjusting to each other’s sensitivities otherwise both nations will continue to pay in blood & money.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      India has vacated Kailash heights so, what’s the point of highlighting it.

      Wars are normally fought during times of great crisis. Corona Pandemic has already destroyed the Indian economy.

      The Home Minister of India is on record saying in Rajya Sabha that India will retake whole of Aksai Chin and POK. Go ahead who’s stopping him?

      Regarding legacy issue, the whole of border dispute is a legacy issue. BJP can ask Pakistan as well as China to fix the borders as they deem fit. Modi can say that it’s all a legacy of Nehru and Congress.

      No need to fight any wars then. Imagine the huge amount of money, which can be diverted from military budget towards upgrading the country’s dismal education and health care.

      I live in China. I don’t trust the narratives of either the Chinese or the Indian government.

      No doubt, Chinese suffered more casualties than India during the last years clash but in military operations, success and failure is not counted by body bags but by occupation of the enemy land.

      China succeeded in its objective and has occupied Indian territory. This fact has been proved by satellite images as well as by various strategists including Professor Karnad.

      The foreign minister’s diplomacy is nothing more than procrastinating.

      Prime Minister of India has already given a clean chit to China by stating that nobody entered into Indian territory.

      More than a year has passed either go for a military operation to get the captured lands back otherwise stop all these talks of false bravado.

      • mstpahadi says:

        this response _(complimented with some outrageous portions in past)_ is quite a give-away on a prejudiced mind, festered in the circumstances (& narratives) not being to its liking…

        Laal Salaam … or

  26. Goyal says:

    I would respectfully like to your thoughts on the Colombo Port City in Sri Lanka? And the bill that was passed recently. Is it a security threat for India as is being alleged?

  27. Sankar says:

    “… that acquisition of trans border intelligence is the responsibility of the R& AW & not that of the Army…” –
    Not sure what “trans border” means here. Surveillance of the border must fall under the military’s command. If not, the Indian military has been grossly negligent if not incompetent in its performance. Same was the situation for Kargil fiasco as I have pointed out elsewhere referring to the late Air Commodore Jasjit Singh’s account.

    I am surprised that the Indian Army is so much dependent on R&AW, do they not have their own military intelligence section? R&AW surely can make input, but surely, they are not the authority to safeguard India’s border.

    ” Till 1954 our maps showed Indo China boundary in Ladakh as undemarcated. In 1954 India unilaterally decided to adopt the Kunlun Range as it’s boundary with China without any negotiation with China.” –

    I do not know where this garbage comes from. Every nation-state member in the UN charter has the map of its sovereign territory registered in the UN. What was the map that India had submitted at the time of independence?

    This “defence” of the Army is just trying to rewrite history. At the time of independence, India as a successor of the British Dominion of India inherited the “security treaty” with Tibet for protection. When China started its invasion, the Tibetan authorities fell back on Delhi for protection on the basis of that treaty, but India reneged. And that is the crux of the matter here.

    India never had a border with China – India’s historical border was with Tibet demarcated as per the McMahon line. It is on the basis of the same Mcmahon line that China has settled its border with Myanmar (Burma). All Aksai-Chin area, Rudok, … , were under the Maharajah’s Kashmir historically. China is now the occupier there. It is amazing how one can turn blind eye to real history.

    I would have thought that Statecraft and International Affairs is beyond the Army’s domain to engage in. But apparently, it is not the case here.

  28. Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd says:

    Lt Gen Sahrawat TS, Retd
    Shankar 17 Jul, 7:11 AM @-

    “till 1954 our maps showed Indo- China boundary as undemarcated……I do not know where this garbage comes from”

    Please see page 222, India’s China Challenge by Ananth Krishna….Govt of India’s White Paper on Indian States 1948 & 1950 designated frontier in the West ( Ladakh) as undefined.Also see page 19, India China relations by Mohan Guruswamy . The legend of map titled India’s Northern Frontier 1950 at page 19 states Boundary Undefined. Similar refrences are available on the other literature available on the subject, if only one cares to read.Words like ‘garbage’ are used when on suffers from a complex.Proficiency in Englush language is not intellectualism.

    Role of every intelligence agency has been laid down by the Govt of India. Trans border intelligence lies in the domain of R& AW. Border management in Ladakh was in the domain of ITBP who gather tactical intelligence in immediate cacinity of the LAC.

    Sarcasm in the statement that ‘ statecraft & international affairs are beyond the Army’s domain to engage’ cannot go un noticed. What I, having retired, is discussing is in my private capacity as a citizen. I may also point out that to rely on study of self appointed strategic annalysists on such subjects would be dangerous.

  29. Sankar says:

    The fundamental point is here China invaded Tibet which is undeniable historically. Govt of India is wrong on all counts here since it has remained silent all along on this crucial issue. Nehru was the culprit right from day one in this matter, but at least he did not give in writing to China that Tibet is a part of China as A.B.Vajpayee did. Tibet had its own independent history – ask the Tibetans. Who are these bloody Indians in the international world to declare that Tibet belongs to China? That is for the Tibetans to decide. China has gobbled up Manchuria in the past and the same is happening for Tibet.

    Ladakh has been a part of Maharajah’s J&K, and its boundary is determined by the records of Maharajah’s Estate. And that included Aksai Chin, Rudog etc. How can Guruswamy or Bhadrakumar or their types have a say on that? What do such people say about the integration of Sikkim with the Indian Union? The French man Claude Arpi has written series of studies on Tibet and has exposed Chinese perfidy in changing border alignments and making false claims etc. by distorting historical evidence – these are available in Indian Defence Review. I have come across a statement by Nehru after he woke up to Chinese betrayal before he died, that China is claiming territory which for ten thousand years never belonged to China (I am sorry I did not note the reference).

    In my interaction with all army people, I find them “brainwashed” by the army’s doctrine of “border perception – we have our perception, and they have theirs” chirping like a parrot. Claude Apri has exposed in one of his writings how the Chinese have duped the Indians into accepting this dubious “perception”.

    English is not my mother tongue. I learned English in school in India. I find the Indian news presenters make no sense when they use terms of “our traditional territory” regarding the border dispute- it does not mean our “sovereign territory” in my book at least. No nation-state will trade its sovereign territory.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Sankar- Excellent post. India has done nothing for the Tibetan cause. Tibetans in China are treated much better than in India.

      Nehru indeed committed a grave blunder. He should have retaliated the moment China attacked Tibet.

      These RSS/BJP folks don’t have any clue regarding how to confront China. They worship and look to the West.

  30. Sankar says:

    Please note that my last post is directed to retd. Lt Gen T.S.Sahrawat.!

  31. Gaurav Tyagi says:


    It took you two weeks to respond to my comment. First develop the courage to post under your real name rather than an absurd pseudonym.

    I have stated facts.

    You on the other hand seem to be a confused and prejudiced person, who believes in the nonsense narrative of “Naa koii ghussa haii…”

    Go and do some serious analytical reading.

  32. Kity says:

    Comments so typical of an outdated ‘strategist’ with an unrealistically large image of himself

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