Monday, 5 September 2011

History of 6 September 1965

heart History of 6 September 1965.....

The 1965 War was a comical affair! Civilians at the foreign ministry assessed that the Indians could be knocked out at the strategic level while soldiers at the highest military level and political level, the president being a soldier were not interested in any military adventure. The civilian hawks led by Bhutto, however, were in league with a group of generals and brigadiers within the army and finally succeeded in persuading the president
(famous for tactical timidity in Burma) into embarking on a military adventure. Musa the army chief had little strategic insight and was against any military adventure in which he may be forced to exercise his qualities of leadership! Musa had rudimentary understanding of strategy and tank warfare since he was a political choice appointed more because he was seen as politically no threat rather than for any military strategic or operational talent!
The Pakistani offensive plan i.e. a thrust against Indian line of communication at Akhnur in case of a limited war in Kashmir or/and against Indian line of communication between Indian Corps holding Ravi-Sutlej Corridor at Jandiala Guru on Amritsar-Jullundhur road in case of an all out war was brilliant in conception. This was so because if successful any of the two plans would have forced the Indians to sue for peace at best and to surrender at worst. No less an authority than the Indian Western Command C in C Harbaksh Singh thus confessed
“A Blitzkrieg deep into our territory towards the Grand Trunk Road or the Beas Bridge would have found us in the helpless position of a commander paralysed into inaction for want of readily available reserves while the enemy was inexorably pushing deep into our vitals. It is a nightmarish feeling even when considered in retrospect at this stage”.
To the Pakistan Army’s misfortune a plan which was brilliant at the strategic and operational level failed simply because those who were leading the military machine at the highest level lacked the strategic insight as well as resolution! The first opportunity was thus missed in Chamb-Jaurian Sector, when even a foreigner i.e. Chinese Foreign Minister visiting Pakistani thought that Akhnur5 was the key!
The second and most serious operational failure occurred in Khem Karan.This had more to do with poor execution at the divisional and brigade level and poor initial higher organization and composition of troops at the divisional level. The first being an operational failure and the second being an organizational failure at the higher command level.
At the operational and tactical level three events stand out in the war i.e. the Grand Slam Operation in Chamb-Jaurian, blunting of Indian offensive at Chawinda at Gadgor on 8th September when one lone tank regiment gave a severe mauling to two tank regiments out of a total available Indian force of an armoured division, and a brigade level counter attack in Lahore Sector.
Grand Slam failed because of change of command! Not because Akhtar Malik was better than Yahya but because one man either Akhtar or Yahya should have conducted the whole operation! The Indians admitted that their position was saved because of the pause of 48 hours, which occurred at Tawi after the Pakistani Chief Musa ordered change of horses in the mid stream!
Now the battle of Gadgor. Technically Gadgor was 24 Infantry Brigade Group versus 1st Indian Armoured Division. In reality the contest was 25 Cavalry versus Poona and Hodsons Horse since 24 Brigade Commander told Colonel Nisar to “do something”6 the vaguest order of 1965 War! Nisar had no idea of what was in front but by a miraculous coup d oeil deployed his tank regiment 25 Cavalry in a manner which would produce an instant nervous breakdown in an instructor who taught tank tactics at the armour school! 25 Cavalry was deployed by Nisar like a thin line of steel! Like a thin net to catch a whale! The manoeuvre if it can be called one succeeded because the Indian brigade commander was paralysed by the fog of war! Thus Commander Indian 1st Armoured Brigade saw a finger as a mountain! He saw a threat to his flanks which in reality was a half squadron of Indian 62 Cavalry which had lost its way and fired at Indian Artillery opposite Rangre! What Nisar deployed after the “Do Something” order was seen by the Indian brigade commander as a tank brigade! Thus he lost the will to use two uncommitted tank regiments to outflank the Pakistani position! Gadgor was a psychological defeat inflicted on K.K Singh by Nisar with Nisar not knowing what was in front of him and K.K Singh over estimating three times what was really in front of him. Thus in cognitive terms, at Gadgor was a tank regiment commander who did not know what was in front of him against a tank brigade commander who was overawed by what he assessed was in front of him and was reduced into a state of total inertia and indecision. The important factor in this decisive battle was the fact that tangibly K.K Singh had the third tank regiment as well as three uncommitted squadrons within his two committed tank regiments with which he could have easily outflanked Nisar and got to his rear! Nisar had tangibly no reserves with which he could have countered K.K’s outflanking manoeuvre.
The counter attack of Brigadier Qayyum Sher in Lahore Sector was a successful divisional battle ordered by Major General Sarfaraz MC and executed by Brigadier Qayyum Sher most resolutely! It produced a crisis on the Indian side and threw the Indians off balance! Both retired in the same rank sometimes after the war!

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