Participation through invitation only
The talk will be based on Gautam Das’ recent book Mountain Warfare and the Indian Army: Towards an Effective Deterrence Capability. The book provides an overview of the practical realities of military operations on India’s northern and north-western frontiers with China and Pakistan, and a focused discussion on the organisational requirements for an offensive doctrine in the mountains, as required for India’s new Mountain Strike Corps. It is written as ‘a discussion on mountain warfare in the Indian context. Beginning with a historical overview of Indian perceptions towards the mountain barriers that defined the geographical space of the Indian sub-continent, it goes on to the historical experience of the Indian Army in the mountain environment, both under the British and later in modern independent India. Modern independent India’s wars are put in perspective from the aspects of casualties sustained by belligerent countries, both military and civil, in recent wars and that of the likely financial implications of an aggressive defensive posture, which are what make a Mountain Strike Corps credible. The current geo-strategic military situation in India’s neighbourhood, and India’s policy of strategic restraint coupled with a credible minimum deterrent are explained to provide the backdrop for the discussion on the ground deterrent envisaged. The practical realities and difficulties of specific operations of war, such as defence and attack, are brought out through examples. Some of these are in the first person from interviews conducted by the author, including a previously unrecorded and unpublished one from a Pakistani brigade commander who was tasked to attack India’s defences in Poonch in December 1971. The deterrence requirements of the Mountain Strike Corps form the final part of the book. In the ultimate analysis, the deterrence capability is a combination of the physical capacity created and the political will to use the capacity if and when needed, as the author has tried to point out.
About the Speaker
Gautam Das was in the Indian Army from 1968 to 1991, and was an infantry officer of the 11th Gorkha Rifles. During his mountain military experience of a decade he commanded troops in all of India’s militarised mountain environments, which included regular infantry as well as the specialised mountain troops such of the Special Frontier Force, an element of India’s Special Forces. He also served on the General Staff of a Corps headquarters with operational responsibilities on both the mountainous China and Pakistan de facto borders in northern J&K state, being closely involved with operational planning.
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