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February 2, 2000
Malik mulls over lessons of Kargil
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
''The Kargil conflict has brought home the need to upgrade the accuracy of our guns, howitzers and rocket launchers; acquisition of more precision-guided munitions and better surveillance,'' Army Chief General V P Malik said on Wednesday.
He was speaking at a function to mark the release of a coffee table book - Kargil '99: Blood, Guts and Firepower - put together by the Regiment of Artillery.
"In this era of strategic uncertainties, we have to remain operationally prepared for the entire spectrum of conflict - from proxy war to limited war and even beyond...whatever is thrust upon our nation. We must, therefore, maintain a potent deterrent capability at all times. The nation simply cannot afford to let down its guard," Gen Malik said.
The army chief said: ''If necessary the enemy should be made to feel our combat potential at a distance, well before the close battle is joined. We are planning to update our artillery's capabilities in all these areas.''
He said by infiltrating its regular soldiers under the garb of Mujahideen into unheld areas of the Kargil sector in Jammu and Kashmir during the summer of 1999, the Pakistan Army had not only violated the sanctity of the Line of Control, that had been maintained by both the sides since the Shimla agreement of 1972, but had also planned to upgrade its decade old proxy war against India and derail the Lahore peace process.
Gen Malik said at the geo-strategic level Pakistan's "perfidious infiltration of regular troops into Kargil was a challenge to India's territorial integrity." Hence, "it was necessary to restore the status quo ante and get Kargil sector vacated of all intruders as early as possible, while ensuring that the conflict remained localised and did not escalate."
Though the intruders achieved initial tactical surprise, the Pakistan Army's ill-conceived move turned out to be a strategic blunder. It led to another military defeat for Pakistan, he said
"From planning at the inception stage, rapid induction and deployment, evolution of the 100-gun concept in the application of fire, meticulously coordinated fire plans, bold and courageous direct shooting with guns deployed under the very nose of the enemy, skilful ammunition management and sustained effort over a period of two months...I would say that the entire artillery campaign was conducted efficiently," he said.
Kargil '99: Blood, Guts and Firepower has been written by Col Gurmeet Kanwar for the Regiment of Artillery. "Never in the history of modern military combat, had so much depended on the overwhelming might of the guns, howitzers, mortars and rocket launchers of the artillery. The officers, JCOs and other ranks of the Regiment of Artillery who participated in the Kargil conflict wrote a new chapter in the Regiment's history and added substantially to its glorious traditions through their unique blend of professional excellence, indomitable courage under fire and untiring dedication in serving the guns," a note in the book says.
The book, the note adds, is dedicated to the heroes of Kargil and captures in graphic detail the awesome beauty of the stark mountainous terrain and the thunder of the big guns that made it possible for the Indian Army to comprehensively defeat the Pakistani army.
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