Military & Aerospace

1971 War: The battle of Chicken's Neck
Star Rating Loader Please wait...

Defence of the politically important town of Jammu and the security of the lines of communication leading to and from it was entrusted to 26 Infantry Division. This sprawling town, on either side of the Jammu Tawi river, is the winter seat of the state government and a Dogra stronghold generally equated with Srinagar in political importance. It is a hub of road communications and controls all movement towards Rajauri, Poonch and Kashmir Valley. It is also the terminus of the only railway line to the state from the rest of India. Its fast-developing industrial area enhances its importance.

Pakistan 15 Infantry Division under Maj Gen Abid Ali Zahid was deployed in a holding role in the Sialkot sector with Pakistan 8 Armoured Brigade in support. To the rear lay the Pakistani strike force consisting of one armoured division (6) and one infantry division (17) with the additional capability of raising two to three infantry brigades by local adjustments at the point of strike.

As part of the overall strategy to meet a preemptive Pakistani attack the division was fully deployed by 12 October in defence of Jammu.

One likely objective of this force was Jammu. Various axes led to the town from Pakistani territory between the Chenab and the Basantar. One of these approaches passed through a dagger- shaped salient known as Chicken’s Neck, an islet between the Chenab and one of its subsidiary channels called Chander Bagha. The strategic importance of this salient was that it provided Pakistan with the shortest access to the bridge at Akhnur over the Chenab and enabled operations to be developed towards Jammu along the old and canal roads, and in addition uncovered the flanks of troops deployed in the Jaurian sector. The roads and tracks in this sector run generally from north to south and are linked to the Sialkot sector only over the Saidpur, Gondal, Majwal and Gangwal ferries.

Maj Gen Z C Bakshi, affectionately known as Zoru and one of the most highly decorated officers in the Indian Army, was GOC 26 Infantry Division. He had an additional armoured brigade and one infantry brigade allotted to him to carry out the task. As part of the overall strategy to meet a preemptive Pakistani attack the division was fully deployed by 12 October in defence of Jammu. This posture entailed the occupation of the divisional sector in close defence of the town with covering troops deployed near the international boundary along the routes of ingress shown on the sketch.

Broadly, this meant one brigade group in the general area of Miran Sahib covering the Sialkot-Jammu highway and various routes of ingress between, a third brigade group in the general area of Damana to cover the routes from Chicken’s Neck and the Akhnur-Jammu road.

The fourth brigade group was to occupy an area in defence of Samba and to deny the Samba-Batal lateral, independent of the parent formation. Although the divisional defended sector around Jammu was compact and made the best use of tactical ground and might have been the best answer to the town’s defence, it opened the way for the enemy to occupy vast tracts of our territory virtually unopposed. This would have given Pakistan a great political and moral advantage which the Indian nation would not have accepted. Bakshi realized this fully and always advocated the political necessity of a forward military posture, but his seniors in their wisdom thought otherwise.

Loss of territory before the main battle was joined would not be acceptable under any circumstances. The defence posture should be suitably modified to suit this essential requirement.

I met him on 25 October at his headquarters, established on the outskirts of the cantonment, and found him like a man shackled, eating his heart out. He was critical of the backward defence concept and contemptuous of such outdated military thinking. He was however confident that when war broke out he would be able to assert his prerogative as commander at the spot, and regain the advantage of a forward posture. He was loath to discuss the unpleasant defensive phase of his operations, but came forward enthusiastically with his plans for the projected offensive tasks.

Broadly, he had two: to eliminate a flank threat to 10 Infantry Division operating in the Chhamb-Jaurian sector and to remove the possibility of a Pakistani thrust to the Akhnur bridge so as to release the troops employed in its close defence; and to hit at Sialkot with a view to drawing a part of the Pakistani strike force away from opposite our 1 Corps offensive. The first task involved the capture of Chicken’s Neck immediately after the outbreak of hostilities so that the threat was eliminated swiftly.

This Pakistani salient, earlier known as The Dagger, was appropriately renamed Chicken’s Neck by Bakshi on account of its appearance, with its base resting on Wadi Tawi and gradually narrowing towards the north till it comes to the neck near Kachhi Mand Nala, where it is narrowest. From there it opens out a little and forms the head, with beak pointing towards the Akhnur bridge. Numerous seasonal nullahs run northeast to southwest and join the Chenab north of the Marala headworks. The road and track system also runs north to south, entering the Sialkot sector over the ferries across the Chenab. Except during the monsoon, the area is generally dry and negotiable by motor transport and tanks.

Bakshi estimated from information obtained from various sources that the salient, about 170 square kilometres, was occupied by four companies of Chenab Rangers stationed at outposts along the international border and backed by one regular infantry battalion with some reconnaissance and support elements. Although no authentic indications were discernible of their detailed deployment as serial photographs and intelligence of the depth areas were lacking, the General felt that Pakistan would hold the sensitive area of Kohairi on Chhani Dera-Sakail covering the neck, Chhani Bajuan-Phuklian being the hub of communications leading to the ferries, Diwara-Bajawat blocking ingress from Pargowal, Tibba denying ingress at the base of the neck, with one company group each. The enemy was known to have laid protective minefields around the defended localities.

Both of us knew from our war experience that detailed information of the exactitude required to plan an attack was seldom forthcoming in peacetime training. Planning had to take into consideration the most unfavourable conditions, and Bakshi was doing just that. He planned initially to cut the neck at its narrowest point by a thrust from Golpatan towards Kachhi Mand in strength, and progress north and south simultaneously till the area was cleared. The essence of the plan was to hit the key locality first, split the Pakistani force deployed at Chicken’s Neck in two and defeat it in detail. This was a good workable plan and would have surely achieved its objectives, but I felt it was a bit too ambitious. I felt that going initially for the well-prepared Kachhi Mand locality would delay operations, thus allowing the enemy reinforcements to occupy defences in depth, and this might be costly in casualties in the long run.

…no authentic indications were discernible of their detailed deployment as serial photographs and intelligence of the depth areas were lacking

I suggested that it would be profitable instead to develop the main thrust between the Ghag nullah and the Chenab to secure the ferries at Saidpur, Gondal, Majwal and Gangwal. The entire salient having thus been sealed, all the troops deployed in it would be trapped and clearance of the area would be hastened as the Pakistani troops would be demoralized with their routes of withdrawal blocked. Clearance of defended locations from the rear, an unexpected direction, would be easier and a lot more speedier. Bakshi felt that this plan, though well reasoned, was a little unorthodox for the Indian Army. But agile military mind that he was, he reviewed his own plan and reshaped it accordingly, even at the cost of doubtful execution.

For his other offensive contingency he was to raise his resources by releasing the Samba brigade group of relief by 1 Corps and reverting 3 Armoured Brigade on completion of 10 Infantry Division offensive tasks by about D plus five days. Bakshi’s offensive effort was to comprise one armoured brigade and three infantry brigades, but when it came to working out details the possibility of its collection in time seemed remote. Movement of tanks across the Chenab at the ferry was a limiting factor apart from the other imponderables of war. To transport two armoured regiments across the river took five nights. Bakshi was quite right in saying that once an armoured brigade crossed it he would never get it back, and without armour his offensive would have no punch either to achieve depth or to draw elements of the Pakistani strike force. In these circumstances, he preferred limited but achievable tasks.

On the induction of 1 Corps in Jammu and Kashmir, 26 Infantry Division’s responsibility was restricted to the Aik nullah. The Chief was apprized of the above study before he landed at Jammu on 1 November to meet the corps and divisional commanders. After briefing on the operational plans by the respective commanders, he gave the following directions:

Identification revealed that out of the total casualties and prisoners about 85 per cent were Chenab Rangers…

  • Loss of territory before the main battle was joined would not be acceptable under any circumstances. The defence posture should be suitably modified to suit this essential requirement.

  • In view of the constraints imposed on trans-river tank movement, 3 Armoured Brigade would shed one regiment to 10 Infantry Divison straightway as well as one medium artillery regiment. The Samba brigade group would not revert to 26 Infantry Division. This would be a permanent grouping for defensive and offensive tasks.
  • The scope of the offensive tasks should be tailored to suit the available resources.

http://www.lancerpublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=707

Click to buy

The forward defensive posture was worked out and executed under Bakshi’s able direction. The entire length of the international boundary was dominated by patrolling, and frequent forays were made into Pakistani territory. These daring raids kept the enemy guessing, and throughout the campaign he never let the initiative slip into Pakistani hands.

On the outbreak of hostilities on 3 December, Bakshi ordered the Chicken’s Neck offensive to be undertaken on the night of 5/6 December. Concentration and marrying of troops were carried out over two days, and the coordination for managing the operation was executed. Meanwhile, although aggressive patrolling was maintained up to the international boundary, no effort was made to confirm locations in depth, ostensibly to maintain an element of surprise. Rumours continued to pour in that the Pakistanis had reinforced the salient and of an impending preemptive attack. There were reports of one squadron of tanks having been sited by an artillery observation post, but Bakshi refused to react to unconfirmed information and stuck to the original plan for attack.

1 2
Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left

19 thoughts on “1971 War: The battle of Chicken’s Neck

  1. Power of Dismissed Soldier! What Could Be Power of Serving Soldier?

    An opinion by: Balbir Singh Sooch

    1. BSF Soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav was dismissed on 19 April 2017. The reason cited was indiscipline, for which there is no bar to contest the elections and the notice issued dismissed BSF Soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav is defective, illegal for the reasons best known to the authorities concerned as reported.

    2. Thus, the notice dated 30-04-2019 is defective, not applicable and nothing in the eye of law as his case of dismissal is not covered under section 9 of ‘THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT, 1951’ as his case of dismissal was not on the grounds of corruption or disloyalty, as the reason cited was indiscipline under the forces Act;

    3. As he (BSF Soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav) made headlines by going public with his allegations of sub-standard food in the Border Security Force of India.

    4. BSF Soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav dismissed, but neither he seems could be attracted for any offence section ‘THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT, 1951’ nor did he serve any other notice for any other offence for rejecting his nomination papers ‘THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT, 1951’.

    5. The notice dated 30-04-2019, served to dismissed BSF Soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav seems to be totally illegal under section 9 of ‘THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT, 1951’ being nothing in the eye of law.

    6. An Open Submission: The notice dated 30-04-2019, served to the dismissed BSF Soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav deserves to be withdrawn and the dismissed BSF Soldier Tej Bahadur must be allowed to contest the election after declaration his nomination papers as valid, submitted within the stipulated period of limitation.

    7. Otherwise, there could be a wrong message all over that the Election Commission of India is failing in his duty to conduct the fair and free elections in India.

    8. It could further be presumed widely that the Indian system is very weak before the ‘Power of Dismissed SPY.

  2. The Meek, Incapable and Inefficient Leadership of India Harmed Indians Endlessly So Far

    A View By: Balbir Singh Sooch

    Leadership of India and Pakistan

    1. Border dispute with China can be resolved through dialogue: Rajnath Singh said as reported in TOI on September 29, 2017, 20:07 (IST)

    2. Though, China and Pakistan are thick friends and allies under all the circumstances. Can India deny to it?

    3. Whereas India, China should start a new chapter: Chinese envoy said as reported in The Tribune, Chandigarh on September 30, 2017, 12:35 PM (IST) and similarly earlier, “Border dispute with China can be resolved through dialogue” Rajnath Singh said. Is it only diplomacy and or a part of diplomacy between India and Pakistan politically motivated since the so-called partition of India?

    4. But, the similar language, “Border dispute with China can be resolved through dialogue”, India never used for Pakistan: Why?

    5. Whether India and Pakistan have some hidden agenda as Learned Mr. Harsh V. Pant openly disclosed, “The Xiamen BRICS declaration earlier this month also listed Pakistan-based terror organisations for the first time. It is not surprising, therefore, that Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has had to admit that terrorist Hafiz Saeed and terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are a “liability” for his country and for the South Asian region”. Courtesy: THE HINDU

    6. And now, in the light of above, India can’t blame Pakistan for the terrorism.

    7. RSS Chief lauds Indian army over counter-infiltration operations along LoC (Where is line of Control???)

    8. Then, India and Pakistan are always remained willingly or unwillingly in warning and challenging mood with each other under the garb of terrorism: Why?

    9. Rest could be the only politics of business of ‘big powers’ and that proved success for them always due to the meek, incapable and inefficient leadership of India, who never addressed their internal welfare and development ………

  3. 310 army personnel committed suicide since 2014: Government of India

    QUESTIONS AS COMMENTS ON THE SERIOUS AND DEMORALISING-MAKING INDIANS FEEL DISPIRITED by: Balbir Singh Sooch.

    Was within army itself more than war like conditions and the actions prevailing in India?

    If answer is ‘YES’ then it is ‘WHY’ so?

    Whether Indian system is responsible for all this and or other reasons beyond the control of the government of India?

    Who will answer and or whose responsibility could be fixed to answer all this?

    But, it is a very heartening, serious and demoralizing-discouraging and making you lose confidence or hope in the system of India, uncomforting matter for all Indians.

    But again, the government of India may rely and reply on the following set old tutored, fashioned-manner, a particular way of behaving or doing something on the unsympathetic lines minus looking after the welfare of our defence forces. Am I wrong to observe so in this modern age now?

    •Trend seen in all military branches; •Military and medical leaders have been searching for answers to what’s been called an “epidemic”; • Most are traced to failed relationships, something linked to frequent deployments.

    Comment by:

    Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch

  4. The War Is Not Solution:

    There Can Be War After War???

    The War Is Not Solution: But There Will Be War To Highlight A Foolish Era Of Modi: Map Of India May Be Different Hereafter: No Opposition In India: Problems of Communalism, Casteism, Corruption, Terrorism, Poverty and Dirt Are Deep Rooted In India.

    Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch Concluded Under The Given Circumstances, May Someone Prove It Wrong: Thanks

    An Opinion By:

    Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch
    http://www.sikhvicharmanch.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/balbir.singh.355

  5. The ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative includes China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as its ‘flagship’ project:

    PANAMA PAPERS
    PM Sharif’s disqualification an ‘internal affair’, won’t impact CPEC: China
    29 Jul 2017 | 9:48 AM

    The ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative includes China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as its ‘flagship’ project.

    Lahore, July 29, 2017

    Beijing termed Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification from public office as an “internal affair of Pakistan” and said that it will not impact China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership involving ‘One Belt, One Road (OBOR)’ initiative that includes China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as its “flagship” project.

    Reacting to the political changes in Pakistan, arising due to the Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers case, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a press briefing, “We believe that the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will not be affected by the change of the situation inside Pakistan. China stands ready to work with Pakistan to continue jointly building the [One] Belt and [One] Road.” The Supreme Court on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office in a landmark decision on the Panama Papers case.

    China expressed hope that various parties and sections in Pakistan could “prioritise state and national interests, properly deal with their domestic affairs, maintain unity and stability, and keep focusing on the economic and social development.”

    The all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan has withstood the test of times, Kang added.

    ANI –Courtesy by: THE TRIBUNE, CHANDIGARH

  6. DEFENCE FORCES: But facts required regarding how much our army (Defence forces) is well equipped

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/armed-forces-fully-equipped-to-deal-with-contingencies-says-arun-jaitley/article19377197.ece?homepage=true

    DEFENCE FORCES: But facts required regarding how much our army (Defence forces) is well equipped

    Not moral support but facts required regarding how much our army is well equipped. Aman Datta rightly commented: Balbir Singh Sooch observed

    Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley during the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: PTI/TV grab

    See more comments at following link:

    INDIAN DEFENCE REVIEW:

    http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spotlights/1971-war-the-battle-of-chickens-neck/

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/armed-forces-fully-equipped-to-deal-with-contingencies-says-arun-jaitley/article19377197.ece?homepage=true

    Forwarded By:

    BALBIR SINGH SOOCH-SIKH VICHAR MANCH

    http://www.sikhvicharmanch.com/

    https://www.facebook.com/balbir.singh.355

  7. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/armed-forces-fully-equipped-to-deal-with-contingencies-says-arun-jaitley/article19377197.ece?homepage=true

    DEFENCE FORCES: But facts required regarding how much our army (Defence forces) is well equipped

    Not moral support but facts required regarding how much our army is well equipped. Aman Datta rightly commented: Balbir Singh Sooch observed

    Please see more comments at following link:

    INDIAN DEFENCE REVIEW:

    http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spotlights/1971-war-the-battle-of-chickens-neck/

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/armed-forces-fully-equipped-to-deal-with-contingencies-says-arun-jaitley/article19377197.ece?homepage=true

  8. China Will Remain A Threat To India By Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand

    An Analysis and Conclusion By: Balbir Singh Sooch

    The standoff has happened in the southernmost part of Tibet. — AFP

    The Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand deserves appreciation for bold clarification and comparatively to bring the truth on surface about the military strength of India and China and the after affects in case of war or no war between India and China as the India-China military standoff continues at Doka La, that China would continue to remain a threat for the country in future also, saying that,

    1. “On the North, we have China which has a large landmass, huge resources and a large standing Army… Despite having the Himalayas between us, China is bound to be a threat for us in the years ahead.”

    1. Referring to China’s rapid military modernisation, “That a large portion of Chinese defence spending remains undisclosed”.

    2. “As the second largest economy in the world China is racing to catch up with the U.S.”.

    3. Referring to Pakistan, being a smaller country with smaller economy, it (China) chose to needle India unconventionally rather than engage in a full-fledged war and said, “That suits its all-weather friend China,”

    4. Stating that South Asia continues to be one of the most “volatile regions” in the world, “India being in the centre of it, is the security provider for this region.”

    5. For that, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand said, India needs to become economically strong in order to have influence in the area and to secure ourselves. “The world recognises strength, both economic and military.”

    6. On June 16, 2017 Chinese troops tried to construct a road through the disputed Doka La Plateau which was physically blocked by Indian troops in the area triggering the present standoff. The Extracts courtesy by: THE HINDU

  9. China Will Remain A Threat To India By Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand

    “India on Thursday, July 20, 2017 made a renewed pitch for a “peaceful resolution” of the Doklam standoff with China through diplomatic channels, and stressed that “differences” should not become “disputes“ on Doklam standoff as reported said by the spokesperson Gopal Baglay of ‘Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India”.

    As to why India never used such or similar language, “differences” should not become “disputes” in case of disputes with Pakistan (our younger brother, being a smaller country with smaller economy) for the last seventy (70) years? As to why Indians are being made fools so far and similarly Pakistanis by the government of Pakistan; and by each other respectively and conspiringly?

    By seeing the hopeless discriminatory and cruel conditions of downtrodden and the minorities within India under the garb of ‘Hindu Nationalism’ and the relations, that’s diplomacy failure outside, the world opinion and all the neighbouring countries are not at all with India now.

    Under the changed behavioral circumstances, it is very safe to draw the inference from that ‘China will remain a threat to India’ and that “India needs to become economically strong in order to have influence in the area and to secure ourselves peacefully within India and outside also” before triggering any type of standoff and war with China”. Isn’t?

    “China claims India ‘admitted’ to entering its territory, says should ‘withdraw’ troops:

    China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has claimed that India “admitted” to entering Chinese territory and said the solution to the standoff was for its troops to “conscientiously withdraw” from the Doklam area in the Sikkim sector.

    “The rights and wrongs are very clear and even senior Indian officials have openly stated that Chinese troops did not enter into the Indian territory,” Wang said yesterday in Bangkok, commenting for the first time over the standoff between

  10. Indian MPs have received 1,250% salary hike over 20 years: What about Military officers and soldiers also of Ex-Servicemen respectively?

    Indian MPs have received 1,250% salary hike over 20 years: In 2010, they got a raise of Rs 34,000 and now compare salary and pension hike of Military officers and soldiers also of Ex-Servicemen respectively. As Reported By FP Staff Jul, 20 2017 15:33:06 IST: Courtesy by First Post

    “NEW DELHI: With Tamil Nadu MLAs getting a 100 percent salary hike, parliament MPs on Wednesday also demanded fee hike, saying that the government secretaries and MLAs in states are being paid better than them.

    The matter was raised in Rajya Sabha by Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal and he got support from the senior Congress leader Anand Sharma.
    Sharma soon joined him saying Indian MPs are worst paid in the world.” Courtesy by: Express News Service | Published: 19th July 2017 05:10 PM (IST).

    Similarly, Military officers and soldiers also Ex-Servicemen respectively must be paid further worst in the world. The government of India, must pay attention as reports and comments coming in to that comparison of MPs and Soldiers salary presently in India. Balbir Singh Sooch

  11. No Significant Improvement In 3 Years, Says Auditor On Army’s Ammunition Shortage:

    CAG had earlier warned that Army could not fight a war beyond 15 to 20 days due to ammunition shortage.

    The CAG report said, of the 152 types of ammunition used by the military, availability of 55 per cent types was below the minimum inescapable requirement for operational preparedness. For another 40 per cent types of ammunitions, the army had a stock of less than 10 days.

    All India | Reported by Vishnu Som, Edited by Aloke Tikku | Updated: July 22, 2017 08:29 IST

    COMMENT: By: Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch

    “The CAG report said, of the 152 types of ammunition used by the military, availability of 55 per cent types was below the minimum inescapable requirement for operational preparedness. For another 40 per cent types of ammunitions, the army had a stock of less than 10 days.”

    It is very sad report at this junction for the security and safety of India, in view of this report, Indian army seems to be helpless nothing more is desirable to comment now in the interest of integrity and unity of India:
    Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch boldly said.

  12. In the consequences of ‘Bhutan Map News’, ‘Siliguri Corridor- “Chicken’s Neck” Map News, Akhnoor Dagger Map News; what could be Map of India leaving aside Pakistan? Be Cautious!

  13. India;s victories are often won by commanders who defy their bosses and their Neta-Babu over lords. In other words, anybody cursed with both integrity and competence has to eat his heart out waiting for an opportunity to win the battle with “High Command”, the first enemy before attacking the more obvious foe. This is not just in the Armed Forces,where the consequent risks are dire but in all sectors of Indian activity. This has been my experience through out my own professional careers Does it always have to take this Bollywoof route? One wonders.

More Comments Loader Loading Comments