Military & Aerospace

Evolution of Indian Military Concepts
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The end of the little war brought up another phenomenon character assassination.

As for operational preparedness, he leaned on three or four British advisers. Russell Pasha, an outstanding divisional commander of World War II, was the chief adviser and bore a grudge that he could offer advice only when asked, which was seldom. Wilkinson, an Armoured Corps officer, was director of Military Training. He was a pliable staff officer with hardly any war experience in command. Lentaigne, a forward-looking officer, was Commandant of the Staff College but was content with mass-scale production of quill drivers in minor staff duties. Macdonald, in charge of the Infantry School, was according to unanimous student opinion, “clueless”.

Between the four of them, they strove to train and prepare the Indian Army for the future, as if for another world war. It was not exactly their fault. The fault lay in not having been able to discern and enunciate the future tasks of the Indian Army. The politician as well as the soldier walked in a fog without set national goals, and as a result the Indian Army remained wedded to the past. Emphasis shifted from matters military to infructuous spit and polish and, as some other rank aptly remarked, to “badges, buttons and bands”.

It was a joke prevalent among officers those days that even if you were a donkey asleep underneath a blanket, when your turn came your ears would be pulled and you would be given an extra pip.

Muchu Chaudhuri was considered one of the most polished and educated general officers of his time and was later to have a great influence in shaping the military concepts of the Army. He was Director of Military Operations for a brief while and had a hand in planning the police action in Hyderabad State, code-named ‘Operation Polo’. He was later called upon to command the Armoured Division and execute the plan. He remarked sometime after: “If the plan had failed I had no one to blame as I made the plan my- self.” Erstwhile Hyderabad State, domain of the legendary Nizam, covered a huge area in the Deccan Plateau of South India. It was landlocked with four main routes of ingress from the surrounding Indian territory. The Nizam had a military force of about one infantry brigade group and one horse cavalry regiment under the command of Gen El-Edroos, an Arab who had risen from the ranks of the ruler’s bodyguard.

He had spent his years in his master’s court looking handsome in colourful regalia and knew little about the business of war. A hurried effort was made to arm the force with modern weapons flown in by gun-runner Sydney Cotton from Pakistan, but only a trickle could reach the fighting units. A militant political organisation, led by a fiery rabble rouser, Qasim Rizvi, tried to raise a “people’s army” of Razakars to resist Indian “aggression” but was no match for our troops.

Chaudhuri had his armoured division and an additional force of about two or three brigade groups raised on an ad hoc basis from the Communication Zone Area troops. Most of the Indian Army was occupied in Jammu and Kashmir at the time. His plan was simple. He distributed his force almost mathematically along the routes of ingress, keeping the main axis of the Sholapur-Naldrug-Hyderabad road for his armour, and ordered a simultaneous advance towards Hyderabad, the seat of the Nizam Government. Despite the inflammatory speeches from the state radio urging the people to resist the Indian “invaders”, resistance collapsed after cursory border skirmishes and within three days the triumphant Chaudhuri marched along the streets of Hyderabad as a victor and was appointed Military Governor soon thereafter. Elements loyal to the Nizam felt badly let down by El-Edroos and dubbed him an Indian stooge who had sold out before the battle started.

Chaudhuri emerged as a national figure almost overnight. Personal power and the overwhelming adulation of the old Nizam’s court turned his head and he started imagining himself the Guderian of the East. For the rest of his service career be assumed and maintained the role of an expert on armour and a military strategist. He set his goals high and worked his way up through a series of key appointments, where he had the opportunity to influence Indian military thinking a great deal. He was no doubt a gifted man, but was very conceited, dabbled freely in influence peddling and ensured that his opinion prevailed. His pet ideas in operational planning of simultaneous multipronged thrusts along several routes of ingress into enemy territory was subsequently applied in annexing Goa and in the war with Pakistan in 1965.

When questioned about the disparity of pay between KCIOs and ICOs, Cariappa replied: “After all, KCIOs are only a handful. Why do you grudge their privileges?”

In Jammu and Kashmir, when the military commanders thought they had the upper hand and could bring operations to a fruitful conclusion, Nehru went to the UN to seek a ceasefire, which was effected at midnight 31 December 1948. India’s national policy was clear: at home it wished to devote all its energies to develop the country economically so as to lift its people from a dismally low subsistence level to prosperity, and for this Nehru, following the Russian pattern, emphasised rapid industrialisation. Abroad, he projected India as an honest broker between the two hostile camps and became an ardent protagonist of non-alignment. He wished to live with neighbours in ideological friendship on the basis of the Panch Sheel and the Bandung spirit.

In this strategy to attain national objectives, military power did not fit in as an equal partner of political, economic and psychological means. But for the irritant of Pakistan’s geopolitics, he felt he could dispense with the expensive military establishment altogether. In this regard, he was content with maintaining a marginal edge over Pakistan in numerical military strength, and that too very grudgingly. He firmly believed in seeking political solutions without direct or indirect application of military power.

This attitude was evidenced by successive nondescript changes in the Ministry of Defence and the meagre allocation of resources for defence in the national budget. It is a poor commentary on the type of military advice available at the time that military power was not given its rightful place in national strategy. The pliable defence chiefs, who toed the line, were equally to blame for the criminal neglect of defence needs in the subsequent decade.

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3 thoughts on “Evolution of Indian Military Concepts

  1. An excellent and concise article.

    Military excellence does not come automatically with rank, as history proves. It has to be earned with successes in War, against a strong opponent. At every stage of command, the methods for attaining success varies. This requires deep study of warfare, both modern and ancient. There are no ‘fixed and laid-down methods’ for attaining success. The method has to vary in each instance and period, even for the same type of situation.
    This the higher commanders in Indian Armed Forces have to realise. ‘Innovative and practical thinking’, has to be always encouraged as the Israelis do. Good course gradings and good ACR reports do not produce successful commanders in War, as the military history of WW II had amply proved.
    Let us emerge from the condition of accepting only stereotyped thinking into the condition of making best use of available war-making resources swiftly, to unbalance the enemy’s battle-plans and concept of war, and attain decisive results.
    Lastly, the Infantry should not be sacrificed pointlessly in being thrown into offensive actions in the plains – this is the preserve of the mechanised forces committed in a definite ‘Air-Land’ battle doctrine framework, except in offensive actions in built up areas which are heavily defended.

    Good luck to those who can reap the dividends of understanding our past mistakes !

    • @Achutan= I tend to agree with him but would like to add there is a separate class in existence behind the scenes Known as the WARRIOR and the SOLDIER former is a non grade and ACR conscious and the later is a BABU == grade , ACR and staff college conscious and = Staff college eligibility should start after an officer has completed his command or attained his rank of Colonel or so not as a Major who start planning when he is a Captain and some keen kumars start planning the moment they are out of the Academy knowing nothing of field tactics and duties. There should be two streams in one is STAFF and other COMMAND AFTER Brigadier level .Further the appointment of Adjutant and Brigade Major should be abolished and Second in Command and Deputy Brigade Commander placed instead of them this will release young officers for field duties and more experienced persons in actual conduct
      As a corollary to above training courses should be confined to just Tactics and weapons upto Battalion level and any additional information or training should be imparted in situ by expert groups coming to Battalions conducting refresher courses and not individuals going to institutions which are white elephants

  2. Evolution of minds is what matters.

    you are an ally of world, we are friends of our Lord.

    You fight for mortality, we run for eternity.

    We are trained to conquer, you are lost in wishes.

    you scream for mischief, we only seek silence.

    you will retaliate in oppression, we slay for pride and honor.

    you are a Gernal, with a tongue of a teenager.

    – Do not cross Loc.


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