Military & Aerospace

Evolution of Indian Military Concepts
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After this humiliating experience, Nehru was accused of callous neglect of the country’s defences. Weighed under by his failures and consequent loss of his halo of infallibility, Nehru died in May 1964. His successors, not enjoying the same supremacy in parliament, thought it better not to meddle with defence policy and left the field free for professionals. Liberal budget allocations, more than a poor country could afford, were made to modernise the armed forces.

Chaudhuri set about his task with energy and managed to infuse his men and officers with the determination to redeem their lost honour. A newly reorganised mountain division was turned into an experimental formation to test out the new equipment and organisations, as well as to evolve tactical concepts for fighting in the mountains with modern arms. The intelligence setup was refurbished and plans made for the balanced growth of the armed forces.

But, as generally happens in most other spheres in our country, the initial enthusiasm soon petered out, and Chaudhuri also reverted to the joy of wielding power. Meanwhile, Ayub Khan was being accused in Islamabad by hawks led by Bhutto of not having taken advantage of India’s preoccupation with China to solve the long-standing Kashmir issue militarily. On the contrary, Bhutto argued that with the rapid growth in quantity and quality of India’s armed forces the balance would soon tilt in favour of India and the chances of seeking a military solution for a politically insoluble problem would recede permanently.

The opportunity lay in forcing the issue before that happened. Pakistan accordingly evolved an ingenious plan, a combination of the Chinese and US military schools of thinking, and started shaping its forces to implement it. With political and military power vesting in one hand, it became easier to achieve a rare combination of the two. Taking tanks and other arms out of mothballs from the US theatre reserves, Pakistan raised one additional armoured division and two infantry divisions. In addition, it trained a guerilla force of about 150,000 for induction into Jammu and Kashmir to spark a revolt. This activity remained unknown to our intelligence till March 1965, when Pakistan struck and captured Sardar Post in the Rann of Kutch, then manned by the Gujarat Armed Police. It was reported that Pakistan had used tanks and artillery liberally and was penetrating Indian territory deeply.1

The higher command failed to enunciate the concept of mountain battle against the Chinese and to evaluate the wherewithal required to fight it.

Chaudhuri was caught unawares and rather embarrassingly naked in a locale where, because of distance and insufficient administrative infrastructure, he could not react sharply. He followed the typical pattern of Indian military responses and, asking the nearest brigade at Jamnagar to contain the threat, flew the para brigade to reinforce the containing force. Recalling his friend Maj Gen Patrick Dunn from leave preparatory to retirement, he raised an ad hoc force headquarters to command the operation. Maj Gen Tikka Khan, then in command of Pakistan 18 Infantry Division and in charge of Kutch operations, made a thrust right up to Biarbet and returned.

His foray had made the intended point. It revived the hitherto dormant territorial claim, blooded his troops in battle, and gave much-needed prestige for the coming war. To relieve pressure on the Kutch front, Chaudhuri rushed troops to battle positions in Punjab as a counterpoise. In addition, the Army had captured a few heights from Pakistan in the Kargil area of the Kashmir sector to compensate for the lost territory in Kutch. Since the timing of these operations did not suit Pakistan’s overall war plan, a ceasefire was effected in Kutch and political negotiations followed, with Britain acting as mediator.2

Harbakhsh Singh, then GOC Western Command, had adopted a defensive posture all along the international border, basing his defences on typical British concepts. Leaving a thin screen ahead, he organised brigade-defended sectors in depth along the appreciated routes of ingress, mostly basing them on communication centres. These defended areas were up to 20 miles deep in our territory, and as they were far apart this led to the mathematical distribution of supporting arms and armour. Within the limited resources of mines and engineer troops, the defended areas could not be made anti-tank localities, and since these defences were not utilising natural and manmade obstacles, which abounded in the area in the way of canals and drains, they were liable to be overrun by armour. Luckily, the war did not start then.

He pointed out that before needling the Chinese in this manner it was necessary to build up depth tactical areas in strength so as to meet likely thrusts should the Chinese decide to react.

Chaudhuri visited the front in May and, perceptive brain that he was, quickly grasped the shortcomings. He ordered our defences to be sited well forward so as not to lose an inch of territory. He directed that our defences should be based on obstacles for the optimum utilisation of their anti-tank potential. He insisted that armour should be concentrated in suitable locations to meet enemy thrusts from the flanks and rear, and as far as possible he wanted the war to be carried into Pakistani territory to provide a cushion for our sensitive areas.

Since a collision with Pakistan was in the offing, a plan was made to meet the impending threat, and Shastri, then Prime Minister, took some major political decisions which marked a significant change in military planning and the country’s attitude towards war. Knowing that to localise the war in Kashmir was to Pakistan’s advantage, New Delhi declared that any aggression on Kashmir would be considered an attack on India. As a result, any retaliatory action against Pakistan could be directed at any part of that country thus allowing Chaudhuri to hit wherever militarily advantageous. Secondly, it was decided to leave the business of war entirely to the soldiers. No political interference in planning or conduct of the war was to be exercised, and Shastri abided by this commitment throughout.

Fearful of Chinese intervention, Chaudhuri had to ensure that the force level of the holding troops against the Chinese along the northern border was maintained, although he did accept a risk on the UP-Tibet border and removed a division less one brigade for operations in the plains. The overall Indian strategy against Pakistan was to be defensive so far as East Pakistan and Punjab were concerned, while it was to be offensive in the Jammu and Kashmir sector. Since it was not possible to arrive at a decision in mountainous terrain, it was decided that, apart from some local actions to improve the defensive posture, the major offensive was to be in the Sialkot sector so as to remove the threat to the vulnerable lines of communication based on the Pathankot-Jammu road, which ran parallel to the border on an alignment of inconsiderable depth.

Kaul was given unprecedented powers, to the extent that on his arrival in NEFA he sent Umrao Singh and his headquarters packing elsewhere and raised another corps headquarters with handpicked staff for himself.

Chaudhuri decided to advance into Pakistani territory up to the Ichhogil Canal in the Punjab sector and lean on this formidable anti-tank obstacle for the holding task. This canal was built with Indian financial contributions under the Indus waters treaty. It is 150 feet wide and 15 feet deep and deliberately constructed as an anti-tank ditch to safeguard the approaches to Lahore. It runs parallel to the border between the Ravi and the Sutlej at a distance varying from three to 12 miles from the Indian side.

On or about 5 August 1965, under cover of extensive firing all along the 470-mile ceasefire line, raiders infiltrated in thousands throughout Jammu and Kashmir for guerilla and sabotage activity in support of the overall Pakistani operational plans.3 The infiltration remained undetected until the raids on sensitive targets all along the lines of commuication and the sparsely populated hinterland materialised. Most vulnerable points like strategic bridges, ammunition dumps and other administrative installations were guarded by state police and light army detachments. Some repulsed raids successfully and a few failed, dependin upon individual efforts. No effort was made to coordinate the various police and paramilitary forces employed to protect vulnerable areas under one command, nor were any uncommitted formations to be employed to deal with the new menace, due mainly to the UN limitation on the size of forces stationed in the state.

Although our intelligence had reported the raising and training of a Mujahid force with an estimated strength of 150,000 as early as June 1965, no effort was made to assess its potential, nor were steps taken to neutralise it. Typical of the Indian Army, its commanders moved only to meet events as they unfolded. Since the valley, with its explosive politics, needed immediate attention, two brigades were rushed there to undertake operations to seal the raiders’ routes of ingress and thus end a further buildup of strength and material. In this regard, the Uri-Poonch bulge was straightened with the capture of Haji Pir Pass and some heights in Kargil were taken.

Although the raiders did not meet with the resounding success the Pakistani military planners had envisaged, the menace persisted throughout the theatre, including the establishment of the invaders’ administration in the Kandi Budil area of the Rajouri sector, and this continued there till well after the end of the 1965 war. As and when troops became available from the hinterland, various little dragnet operations were launched throughout the length and breadth of the state, but so inept was the Indian Army in dealing with abnormal situations that the results achieved were not commensurate with the effort involved. In this context, it is pertinent that throughout the preparatory phase of the guerilla operations the creation of cells to provide the infrastructure and caches for administrative backing, which must have taken months to establish, went undetected by our intelligence. The first news about infiltration came from a grazier in the Gulmarg area on 5 August.

After some initial success, the guerilla force was not able on the whole to achieve any thing like a mass upsurge as it aimed to. In fact, lack of local support, dwindling administrative resources as time passed, coupled with the intensified anti-guerilla operations organised by the Indian Army, began to tell on the effectiveness of the force. To distract our troops from such operations, Pakistan struck in the Chhamb sector1 on 1 September with a strong mixed force, comprising an infantry brigade and two armoured (Patton) regiments supported by a large number of guns, against a lightly held brigade sector, a predominantly infantry-oriented force, in localities organised with scanty anti-tank defences.

Since a collision with Pakistan was in the offing, a plan was made to meet the impending threat, and Shastri, then Prime Minister, took some major political decisions which marked a significant change in military planning and the countrys attitude towards war.

The postwar Indian infantry were facing tank rushes for the first time. Their brigadier was killed and the units reeled back bewildered. Another brigade was rushed in to block the thrust in the general area of Jaurian with some Sherman tanks, and the Air Force was brought into play and managed to achieve quite a few tank kills. On contact, the brigade at Jaurian also broke line, apparently frightened of tanks and heavy artillery fire. Because of difficulties of their own, the Pakistanis did not pursue our retreating troops, otherwise Akhnur could have been in their hands the next day, cutting off the only maintenance route to the Indian troops deployed between the Chenab and Poonch. It is significant that the Pakistanis chose the only plain area along the ceasefire line for their thrust because technically this formed a part of the disputed territory in Jammu and Kashmir and was the only place where they could exploit their superiority in armour.

Instead of dancing to Ayub’s tune by reinforcing failure, Chaudhuri decided to go on the offensive in the plains of Punjab across the border and escalate the local battles in Jammu and Kashmir into a full-fledged war. Dhillon, an engineer officer with limited tactical ability, was then in command of a corps operating in the Lahore sector with the aim of securing the line of the Ichhogil Canal. He divided his force mathematically along the three approaches leading to Lahore, with one division less one brigade each, and himself sat in the middle with little in hand to influence the battle. Except along the Bhikiwind-Khalra axis, where the opposition was minimal, being only of company strength, Dhillon was not able to reach the canal line in full measure anywhere else.

To achieve surprise, the offensive in the Punjab involved formations moving from their peace locations to the assembly areas and on to cross their respective start lines in one go, and in this operation the farthest units were on the road up to 48 hours. The task involved securing the canal line, a linear obstacle, up to a length of 25 to 30 miles by each truncated division, and the destruction of concrete bridges by rapid demolition devices so as to make the canal an effective obstacle.

This action meant distributing the available force thinly in linear fashion, with a near vacuum behind. Once this line was pierced, there was nothing in depth to block enemy thrusts. Demolition devices, laboriously contrived, did not prove effective on the concrete construction of the Ichhogil bridges. This proved that the Indian Army had not learnt to match the tasks they faced with the means in hand. Chaudhuri explained the dispersal of effort later as the means to make the opposition distribute its resources, little realising that this also meant dispersing our forces. Such an advantage is only possible with reasonable superiority in numbers and quality of resources. Dispersal was redundant in the conditions of near parity that existed at that time.

To checkmate this, the Indian Army had to break up a tactically sound posture to find troops to meet the unorthodox moves of the enemy.

The thrust along the Amritsar-Lahore axis initially reached Ichhogil, but soon recoiled against tank opposition. It could not lean on the canal again till the day before the ceasefire on 21 September. The central thrust along the Khalra-Lahore road overcame a company’s worth of opposition and reached the canal at Burki in two days, and these troops remained locked up there. It never occurred to Dhillon that there was a manoeuvre called regrouping to meet the requirements of battle as the enemy revealed his hand.

The southern thrust along the Khemkaran-Kasur axis encountered fierce opposition and was not able to progress much beyond the border. Some units broke the line under artillery shelling and fear of tanks, and the leadership found it difficult to reform and commit these units to battle again. The self-inflicted rate of attrition was so high that when the Pakistani Grand Slam offensive struck Khemkaran on 8 September, the division was left with no more than two battalions plus to face the onslaught of one armoured division and one infantry division.

Grand Slam was a bold and inggenious operational plan. It visualised establishment of a bridgehead by an infantry division to include Khemkaran, and the development of three-pronged thrusts towards Amritsar and the Beas along the line of three canals running east to west at right angles to the road axis. The thrust lines ran along the grain of the country, would have met no opposition along these unexpected approaches and, working into the rear of the corps, could have trapped Dhillon’s entire force, apart from getting possession of the prestigious Amritsar district. Till then, the where- abouts of Pakistan 1 Armoured Division and raising of 11 Infantry Division, used in this offensive, was unknown to our intelligence.

Pakistan disrupted our ground operations with telling effect while our forward troops seldom saw our planes overhead. IAF could not keep Pakistani planes out of our skies as Pakistan had so designed its network of airfields that, based on deep locations, its wings had the flexibility of using many forward airfields to suit a given tactical situation.

But this was nullified by a magnificent defensive action fought by 4 Mountain Division, by then reduced to two and a half battalions, with 2 Independent Armoured Brigade, consisting of a mixed force of Centurion and AMX tanks. The battle was fought by a combination of infantry, tank and engineer effort to better each other’s advantage. The infantry established an anti-tank locality to block the two axes emanating from Khemkaran with a liberal use of mines, recoilless guns and immobilised Sherman upgunned tanks. The flanks were covered by AMX tanks and clever use of flooding from local irrigation channels.

The Centurions were placed along the axes in depth to take on enemy armour from the flanks and rear, using our firm infantry base as a pivot. Flooding channelised the Pakistani thrusts to our killing areas and, apart from the earlier probing attacks, both by day and night, a fullfledged battle raged on 10 September. By the end of the day, the Pakistanis were severely mauled, had lost 108 Patton tanks, and cutting their losses, broke contact and withdrew towards Kasur. Later, efforts were made to retake Khemkaran, but all attempts failed and the town remained in Pakistani hands till the end of the war.

On 8 September, Chaudhuri launched an offensive in the Sialkot sector with his strike corps under Dunn. It consisted of the prestigious Indian 1 Armoured Division and two infantry divisions. The plan visualised advance from a secure base on a wide front between two anti-tank obstacles, the Degh and Tegh nadis. This advance was met frontally by Pakistan 6 Armoured Division, whose existence on the Pakistani Orbat was not known to our intelligence, and an infantry division under Yahya Khan. Confrontation and fierce battles continued despite the loud and rather tall claims of Maj Gen Rajinder Singh “Sparrow,” in command of 1 Armoured Division, that he had fought the biggest tank battle since the days of Rommel and had destroyed some 400 tanks.

A colourful personality, whose squeaky voice had been heard at tactical discussions of the Indian Army for two decades repeating armour jargon and cliches from World War II literature, in the end he could only account for an armoured advance of six-mile depth in 21 days. This worked out at approximately one mile in three and a half days, and about 40 derelict tanks opposed to 98 installed in Patton Nagar by 4 Mountain Division near Khemkaran. Both belligerents were exhausted in battle, with their reserves low, and hopefully waited for the ceasefire.

Immediately after the ceasefire, the Pakistan Army swarmed into unoccupied ground like a locust invasion in a grab for territory. To checkmate this, the Indian Army had to break up a tactically sound posture to find troops to meet the unorthodox moves of the enemy. This resulted in holding a thin line in some sectors with inadequate military backing in the rear. Such tactics, unsound in an uneasy period of no war-no peace, were forced on the Indian Army by political necessity as the territory was needed for bargaining at the negotiating table.

Lavish praise for all the services and image building by the propaganda media clouded an objective analysis of the war which would have taught lessons for the future, and the Official Secrets Act hid many sins.

Both sides claimed victory in the war. The fact was that it ended without a decision. When the public and politicians asked what the Indian Army had to show in concrete gains, the articulate Chaudhuri told the press that his war aim was not to capture territory but to cause attrition of the Pakistan Army. The public was taken in, little knowing that attrition in battle only pays when it is carried out to the extent that enemy resistance collapses as a result. Then the doors are open to take as much territory as the victor desires. But where attrition cannot be achieved the planner must hit sensitive areas of the adversary in such a manner that it hurts the enemy economically or politically. India did not achieve either of these aims, and there lay the failure of Chaudhuri’s military concepts.

The Indian Air Force had a big role in this war, but on the basis of World War II concepts it went for strategic targets to destroy Pakistani airfields and maintenance facilities and effect deep interdiction. Priorities were so lopsided that the entire effort was consumed in performing these tasks, leaving hardly any sorties for close support. As a result, Pakistan disrupted our ground operations with telling effect while our forward troops seldom saw our planes overhead. IAF could not keep Pakistani planes out of our skies as Pakistan had so designed its network of airfields that, based on deep locations, its wings had the flexibility of using many forward airfields to suit a given tactical situation.

While our planes bombed deserted airfields in the vain hope of achieving superiority in the air, the Pakistani planes went for our forward airfields and supported ground operations, and this showed immediate results in battle. Although our propaganda, and the lavish distribution of gallantry awards, boosted IAF’s image, the ground troops went through the war with bitterness in their hearts and blamed our Air Force for some of their setbacks. Air Chief Arjan Singh failed to realise that achieving air superiority was a long-term process which did not fit the requirements of a short war. In this context, apart from local air defence of our air bases, the whole effort should have been directed to support the ground battle, especially in the form of close interdiction having an immediate effect on the battle.

The Indian Army found it difficult to cope with any action which was unorthodox and unusual and was too slow to react. Our stereotyped military thinking and preparations were once again to blame.

Indian naval units had just returned from an exercise on the east coast and were reservicing when war broke out. The aircraft carrier was in dry dock undergoing major repairs. The Navy was caught unawares, but the enemy did not exploit this weakness. The Pakistani Navy did not venture farther than the west coast of Saurashtra, where they bombarded Dwarka and damaged one or two fishing boats.1 For the rest of the war, both the navies stayed out of battle.

Lavish praise for all the services and image building by the propaganda media clouded an objective analysis of the war which would have taught lessons for the future, and the Official Secrets Act hid many sins. India had not learnt to face the mirror squarely. The fact was that our intelligence could not indicate the preparations or forecast the kind of border incidents that might occur in the Rann of Kutch nor the infiltration in Kashmir. Our intelligence did not know Pakistan had raised 6 Armoured and 11 Infantry Divisions till the troops in contact established their identity. Nor could they foresee the Pakistani thrust towards Akhnur. Very little progress was in evidence after the India-China war of 1962 in the intelligence field despite the claims of Malik and his tribe.

There were numerous sackings of brigade and unit commanders in battle, especially in Dhillon’s corps. It was said that these were designed more to cover Dhillon’s mistakes by finding scapegoats rather than improve matters. It demoralised field commanders and bred uncertainty to such an extent that caution prevailed all round. Nobody was prepared to act lest they were blamed for mistakes. Lack of mutual confidence between higher and field commanders led to inactivity in war and profuse mudslinging at the end of it.

Much recrimination followed the cessation of hostilities. The field commanders accused the higher command of hustling them into action in haste without proper preparation and reconnaissance. As such, battle was joined in a disorganised manner, resulting in failure for which they were unjustifiably penalised. One example quoted was crossing startlines in Punjab after a long and arduous march. The fact was that both commanders and troops were not attuned to the requirements of a short war. The Army, trained over years according to the typical World War II step-by-step approach, found it hard to adjust to swift battle and mobile warfare. The result was a failure of military concepts and the resultant preparations for war.

From the time frame required to achieve this, Bhagats concept of defensive operation visualised that by successive interference and delay caused in negotiating the ditch the invader would not be able to build any sizable force of armour in daytime.

This was apparent in our reaction to the Pakistani infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army found it difficult to cope with any action which was unorthodox and unusual and was too slow to react. Our stereotyped military thinking and preparations were once again to blame.

Above all, Chaudhuri’s method of dispersing effort on all routes of ingress did not allow us to make much headway anywhere. One experienced Israeli journalist summed it up at the end of war thus: “The Indian tactical plans are very simple—they distribute their force equitably along all the routes of ingress leading into the enemy territory, advance rather sluggishly till they meet opposition, and then they sit there exchanging fire in anger and wait for the war to end.” He should also have added: “Then they claim success which did not exist.”

As for the higher direction of war, although a committee of service chiefs staff existed, even then there appeared to be little coordination at the top. Otherwise, it is inexplicable that the Navy should not have known of the impending war. If it had known, then it is equally inexplicable that it should have put major units of the fleet in dry dock. The Air Force fought its private war, with our forward troops being mauled by Pakistani warplanes without hindrance. No close air support worth the name ever materialised. These are some of the irrefutable facts which mutual backslapping on the part of the then service chiefs cannot conceal.

Our military concepts were outmoded, for they aimed at fighting a different type of war, and thus they failed. Our higher command and our system had ruthlessly stifled fresh thought and forward- looking planning. These deficiencies required to be remedied drastically.

It fell to Kumaramangalam to take over from Chaudhuri and improve the Army’s tactical concepts by drawing the lessons learnt from the 1965 conflict. But he was an insipid personality, militarily speaking, with a pronounced lethargic disposition, and so wedded to orthodoxy that original thinking was beyond him. The team he collected round him remained content with stereotyped routine. The only worthwhile achievement in his tenure as Chief of Army Staff was raising two independent armoured brigades and a change of emphasis from a foot army to gradual mechanisation. He also procured some pieces of Russian artillery to replace Second World War equipment. But the enhanced capability of additional firepower and mobility did not correspondingly change tactical thinking or usher in boldness in formulating operational plans at the national level. His tenure was on the whole colourless.

Lt Gen P.S. Bhagat, who then commanded a corps in Punjab, seriously mulled however over the lessons of the conflict, especially as applicable to his area of responsibility. He got the views of the participating commanders down to unit level regarding the difficulties they faced in battle both in tactics and administration. He asked politicians about the effect of the initial loss of territory and met a cross-section of the local population on his extensive tours to assess their reactions to past military operations.

Having been associated with the Henderson-Brooks inquiry after the NEFA debacle, he analysed the material gathered from various shades of public and military opinion and came to certain conclusions which were to shape the military concepts of the decade. He learnt that the politician as well as the local population were not prepared to risk the overrunning of their territory by Pakistan even briefly. It was therefore necessary to defend the border as far forward as possible to ensure that Pakistan, having the initiative to start a war, did not gain territory in the initial rush before the Indian forces went into action.

To run down Bhagat’s military reputation for his own advantage, Bewoor started decrying DCB as a Maginot line mentality, a cliche he had picked up from old British military journals.

Bhagat also realised that occasions might arise where it might be difficult to regain lost territory within the tight schedule of a short war, and this would prove embarrassing in postwar bargaining. He therefore argued that an extensive system should be created all along the border to prevent Pakistan from rushing the border defences to develop deeper thrusts towards the interior of India.

For this purpose, he created a defensive system in Punjab which later came to be known as the ditch-cum-bund (DCB) type of defence. It consisted of an anti-tank ditch of a width could not be negotiated by a bridge-laying tank and would need a deliberate bridging effort to cross. The ditch was covered by a high bund, housing concrete fortifications, from where coordinated anti-tank as well as machine gun and small arms fire could be brought to bear on enemy troops approaching and negotiating the ditch.

The aim was to make an attacking force to establish a proper bridgehead to eliminate small arms fire and then construct a bridge to enable armour to be built up across the ditch to stage a breakout in the rear areas. From the time frame required to achieve this, Bhagat’s concept of defensive operation visualised that by successive interference and delay caused in negotiating the ditch the invader would not be able to build any sizable force of armour in daytime. This presupposed that construction of a bridge would invariably be carried out in darkness, especially in conditions of air parity.

Bhagat propounded that the attacker would be eliminated piecemeal in the process of building up across the ditch, where his full potential could not be brought into play. His arguments won over the politician and Kumaramangalam, and as a result he was able to fortify a major portion of the Punjab border before the next war with Pakistan. In the 1971 conflict, the DCB system was pierced only at one place in the Fazilka sector, but without much advantage. Otherwise, neither Pakistan nor India were able to negotiate the ditches throughout their length, and DCB proved its worth as a defensive measure against quick capture of territory. Local battles were mainly confined to the ground between DCB and the border, and the overall strategy of being on the defensive in the western theatre worked well on the whole in Punjab. But by that time Bhagat had moved over to Central Command as Army Commander and was not able to test his concepts firsthand.

On reorganisation of the Army after the 1971 conflict, Bhagat was brought to the newly constituted Northern Ccmmand.1 India had lost a sizable chunk of territory in the Chhamb sector and, apprehending similar Pakistani incursions elsewhere in the plains of Jammu and Kashmir, Bhagat energetically set about creating such defensive fortifications in his command and was about to complete DCB before the Government decided to pass him over to give yet another extension to Bewoor as Chief.

To run down Bhagat’s military reputation for his own advantage, Bewoor started decrying DCB as a Maginot line mentality, a cliche he had picked up from old British military journals. He argued that it would create a defensive outlook, not understanding that a nation like India, which always waits for an adversary to start a war, has no option but to adopt a defensive posture to take the initial blow. In that event, was it better to take the blow in fortifications covered by an obstacle or in the open? He next put forward the proposition that linear defence of the DCB type afforded little depth, and in the event of being pierced the attack would not encounter sufficient resistance to stop the developing thrustlines.

Bewoor did not understand the dynamism of defence. Defence is never static, and after the initial blow it must be reorganised and readjusted to block and then kill intruders. DCB has lateral depth in the initial posture, which on discerning the thrust needs transformation into conventional depth. Throughout, he and his followers decried Bhagat and his concepts. As a result, succeeding commanders who assumed office with Bewoor’s support took over the system without much confidence in its efficacy.


  1. Asian Recorder, Vol XVIII, No 27, “Northern-Army Command Created,” p. 10855.
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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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