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Indian Army

Land based branch of the Indian Armed Forces

Top 10 Indian Army related articles

Indian Army
Crest of the Indian Army
Founded1 April 1895; 126 years ago (1895-04-01)
Country  India
RoleLand warfare
  • 1,237,117 active personnel[1]
  • 960,000 reserve personnel[2]
Part ofIndian Armed Forces
HeadquartersIntegrated Defence Headquarters, Ministry of Defence, New Delhi
Motto(s)Service Before Self
ColoursGold, red and black
AnniversariesArmy Day: 15 January
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Ram Nath Kovind
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)General Bipin Rawat
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS)General Manoj Mukund Naravane, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC
Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS)Lieutenant General Chandi Prasad Mohanty PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM
Aircraft flown
AttackHAL Rudra, HAL LCH
HelicopterHAL Dhruv, HAL Chetak, HAL Cheetah

The Indian Army is the land-based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army,[4] and its professional head is the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), who is a four-star general. Two officers have been conferred with the rank of field marshal, a five-star rank, which is a ceremonial position of great honour. The Indian Army originated from the armies of the East India Company, which eventually became the British Indian Army, and the armies of the princely states, which were merged into the national army after independence. The units and regiments of the Indian Army have diverse histories and have participated in a number of battles and campaigns around the world, earning many battle and theatre honours before and after Independence.[5]

The primary mission of the Indian Army is to ensure national security and national unity, to defend the nation from external aggression and internal threats, and to maintain peace and security within its borders. It conducts humanitarian rescue operations during natural calamities and other disturbances, such as Operation Surya Hope, and can also be requisitioned by the government to cope with internal threats. It is a major component of national power, alongside the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.[6] The army has been involved in four wars with neighbouring Pakistan and one with China. Other major operations undertaken by the army include Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot, and Operation Cactus. The army has conducted large peace time exercises such as Operation Brasstacks and Exercise Shoorveer, and it has also been an active participant in numerous United Nations peacekeeping missions, including those in Cyprus, Lebanon, Congo, Angola, Cambodia, Vietnam, Namibia, El Salvador, Liberia, Mozambique, South Sudan, and Somalia.

The Indian Army is operationally and geographically divided into seven commands, with the basic field formation being a division. Below the division level are permanent regiments that are responsible for their own recruiting and training. The army is an all-volunteer force and comprises more than 80% of the country's active defence personnel. It is the largest standing army in the world, with 1,237,117[7][8] active troops and 960,000 reserve troops.[9][10] The army has embarked on an infantry modernisation program known as Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System (F-INSAS), and is also upgrading and acquiring new assets for its armoured, artillery, and aviation branches.[11][12][13]

Indian Army Intro articles: 24


British Indian Army

No. 4 (Hazara) Mountain Battery with RML7 pounder "Steel Gun" Mountain Gun in Review Order. Left to right Naick, Havaldar, Subadar (Sikhs) and Gunner (Punjabi Musalman) circa 1895.

In 1776, a Military Department was created within the government of the East India Company at Kolkata. Its main function was to record orders that were issued to the army by various departments of the East India Company for the territories under its control.[14]

With the Charter Act of 1833, the Secretariat of the government of the East India Company was reorganised into four departments, including a Military Department. The army in the presidencies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras functioned as respective Presidency Armies until 1 April 1895, when they were unified into a single Indian Army.[15][16][17][18] For administrative convenience, it was divided into four commands, namely Punjab (including the North West Frontier), Bengal, Madras (including Burma), and Bombay (including Sind, Quetta and Aden).[19]

The British Indian Army was a critical force for maintaining the primacy of the British Empire, both in India and throughout the world. Besides maintaining the internal security of the British Raj, the Army fought in many other theatres: the Anglo-Burmese Wars; the First and Second Anglo-Sikh wars; the First, Second, and Third Anglo-Afghan wars; the First and Second opium wars, and the Boxer Rebellion in China; and in Abyssinia.

World wars

French postcard depicting the arrival of 15th Sikh Regiment in France during World War I. The postcard reads, "Gentlemen of India marching to chasten the German hooligans."
A Sikh soldier of the 4th Division (the Red Eagles) of the Indian Army, attached to the British Fifth Army in Italy. Holding a captured swastika after the surrender of German forces in Italy, May 1945. Behind him, a fascist inscriptions says "VIVA IL DUCE", "Long live the Duce" (i.e. Mussolini).

The Kitchener Reforms brought the British Army to a new century.[20] In the 20th century, the British Indian Army was a crucial adjunct to British forces in both world wars. 1.3 million Indian soldiers served in World War I (1914–1918) with the Allies, in which 74,187 Indian troops were killed or missing in action.[21] In 1915 there was a mutiny by Indian soldiers in Singapore. The United Kingdom made promises of self-governance to the Indian National Congress in return for its support but reneged on them after the war, following which the Indian Independence movement gained strength.

The "Indianisation" of the British Indian Army began with the formation of the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College at Dehradun, in March 1912, with the purpose of providing education to the scions of aristocratic and well-to-do Indian families and to prepare selected Indian boys for admission into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Cadets were given a King's commission, after passing out, and were posted to one of the eight units selected for Indianisation. Because of the slow pace of Indianisation, with just 69 officers being commissioned between 1918 and 1932, political pressure was applied, leading to the formation of the Indian Military Academy in 1932 and greater numbers of officers of Indian origin being commissioned.[22]

In World War II Indian soldiers fought alongside the Allies. In 1939, British officials had no plan for expansion and training of Indian forces, which comprised about 130,000 men (in addition there were 44,000 men in British units in India in 1939), whose mission was internal security and defence against a possible Soviet threat through Afghanistan. As the war progressed, the size and role of the Indian Army expanded dramatically, and troops were sent to battlefronts as soon as possible. The most serious problem was lack of equipment.[23] Indian units served in Burma, where in 1944–45, five Indian divisions were engaged along with one British and three African divisions. Even larger numbers operated in the Middle East. Some 87,000 Indian soldiers died in the war. By the end of the war it had become the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men in August 1945.[24][25]

In the African and Middle East campaigns, captured Indian troops were given a choice to join the German Army, to eventually "liberate" India from Great Britain, instead of being sent to POW camps. These men, along with Indian students who were in Germany when the war broke out, made up what was called the Free India Legion. They were originally intended as pathfinders for German forces in Asia, but were soon sent to help guard the Atlantic Wall. Few who were part of the Free India Legion ever saw any combat, and very few were ever stationed outside Europe. At its height, the Free India Legion had over 3,000 troops in its ranks.[26]

Indian POWs also joined the Indian National Army, which was allied with the Empire of Japan. It was raised by a former colonel of the British Indian Army, General Mohan Singh, but was later led by Subhas Chandra Bose and Rash Bihari Bose. With the fall of Singapore in 1942, about 40,000 Indian soldiers were captured. When given the choice, over 30,000 joined the Indian National Army. Those who refused became POWs and were mostly shipped to New Guinea.[27] After initial success, this army was defeated, along with the Japanese; but it had a huge impact on the Indian independence movement.

Indian independence

Upon the Partition of India and Indian independence in 1947, four of the ten Gurkha regiments were transferred to the British Army. The rest of the British Indian Army was divided between the newly created nations of India and Pakistan. The Punjab Boundary Force, which had been formed to help police the Punjab during the partition period, was disbanded.[28] Headquarters Delhi and the East Punjab Command were formed to administer the area.

The departure of virtually all senior British officers following independence, and their replacement by Indian officers, meant many of the latter held acting ranks several ranks above their substantive ones. For instance, S. M. Shrinagesh, the ground-forces commander of Indian forces during the first Indo-Pak War of 1947–49 (and the future third COAS), was first an acting major-general and then an acting lieutenant-general during the conflict while holding the substantive rank of major, and only received a substantive promotion to lieutenant-colonel in August 1949.[29] Gopal Gurunath Bewoor, the future ninth COAS, was an acting colonel at his promotion to substantive major from substantive captain in 1949, while future Lieutenant General K. P. Candeth was an acting brigadier (substantive captain) at the same time.[30] In April 1948, the former Viceroy's Commissioned Officers (VCO) were re-designated Junior Commissioned Officers, while the former King's Commissioned Indian Officers (KCIO) and Indian Commissioned Officers (ICO), along with the former Indian Other Ranks (IOR), were respectively re-designated as Officers and Other Ranks.[31]

Army Day is celebrated on 15 January every year in India, in recognition of Lieutenant General K. M. Cariappa's taking over as the first commander-in-chief of the Indian Army from General Sir Francis Butcher, the last British commander-in-chief of India, on 15 January 1949. With effect from 26 January 1950, the date India became a republic, all active-duty Indian Army officers formerly holding the King's Commission were recommissioned and confirmed in their substantive ranks.[32]

Conflicts and operations

First Kashmir War (1947)

Immediately after independence, tensions between India and Pakistan erupted into the first of three full-scale wars between the two nations over the then princely state of Kashmir. The Maharaja of Kashmir wanted to have a standstill position. Since Kashmir was a Muslim majority state, Pakistan wanted to make Kashmir a Pakistani territory. As a result, Pakistan invaded Kashmir on 22 October 1947, causing Maharaja Hari Singh to look to India, specifically to Lord Mountbatten of Burma, the governor general, for help. He signed the Instrument of Accession to India on 26 October 1947. Indian troops were airlifted to Srinagar from 27 October dawn onwards.[33] This contingent included General Thimayya who distinguished himself in the operation and in the years that followed became a Chief of the Indian Army. An intense war was waged across the state and former comrades found themselves fighting each other. Pakistan suffered significant losses. Its forces were stopped on the line formed which is now called the Line of Control (LOC).

An uneasy peace, sponsored by the UN, returned by the end of 1948, with Indian and Pakistani soldiers facing each other across the Line of Control, which has since divided Indian-held Kashmir from that part held by Pakistan. A number of UN Security Council resolutions were passed, with Resolution 47 calling for a plebiscite to be held in Kashmir to determine accession to India or Pakistan, only after Pakistan withdrew its army from Kashmir.[34] A precondition to the resolution was for Pakistan and India to return to a state of "as was" prior to the conflict. Pakistan would withdraw all tribesmen and Pakistani nationals brought in to fight in Kashmir. Pakistan refused to pull back, and there could be no further dialogue on fulfilling the UN resolution.[35][34] Tensions between India and Pakistan, largely over Kashmir, have never been entirely eliminated.

Annexation of Hyderabad (1948)

Major General El Edroos (at right) offers his surrender of the Hyderabad State Forces to Major General (later Army Chief) J.N. Chaudhuri at Secunderabad

After the partition of India, Hyderabad State, a princely state under the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad, chose to remain independent. The following stand-off between the Government of India and the Nizam ended on 12 September 1948, when India's then Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel ordered Indian troops to secure Hyderabad State. During five days of fighting, the Indian Army, backed by an Indian Air Force squadron of Hawker Tempest aircraft, routed the Hyderabad State forces. Five Indian Army infantry battalions and one armoured squadron were engaged in the operation. The following day, Hyderabad was proclaimed part of India. Major General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri, who led the operation, and accepted the surrender of the Nizam's forces on 18 September 1948, was appointed the military governor of Hyderabad, to restore law and order, and served until 1949.

Assistance during the Korean War (1950–1953)

During the Korean War, although deciding against sending combat forces, India sent its 60th Parachute Field Ambulance unit to aid the UN troops fighting against the North Korean invasion of South Korea, as part of the 1st Commonwealth Division. In the aftermath of the war, an Indian infantry brigade formed the Custodian Force of India, some of whose soldiers were also part of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission, which assisted in the exchange of prisoners of war and was headed by Lieutenant General K. S. Thimayya.

Annexation of Goa, Daman and Diu (1961)

Even though the British and French vacated all their colonial possessions in the Indian subcontinent, Portugal refused to relinquish control of its colonies of Goa, Daman, and Diu. After repeated attempts by India to negotiate were spurned by Portuguese prime minister and dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, on 12 December 1961 India launched Operation Vijay to capture the Portuguese colonies, which was accomplished by small contingents of Indian troops. After a brief conflict that lasted twenty-six hours—during which 31 Portuguese soldiers were killed, the Portuguese Navy frigate NRP Afonso de Albuquerque was destroyed, and over 3,000 Portuguese were captured—Portuguese General Manuel António Vassalo e Silva surrendered to Major General Kunhiraman Palat Kandoth of the Indian Army. Goa, Daman, and Diu became a part of the Republic of India.

Sino-Indian War (1962)

Indian Army Hall of Fame at Leh, near Indo-Tibet border

The cause of this war was a dispute over the sovereignty of the widely separated Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh border regions. Aksai Chin, claimed by India as part of Kashmir, and by China as part of Xinjiang, contains an important road link that connects the Chinese regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. China's construction of this road was one of the triggers of the conflict.

Small-scale clashes between Indian and Chinese forces broke out as India insisted on the disputed McMahon Line being regarded as the international border between the two countries. Chinese troops claimed not to have retaliated to the cross-border firing by Indian troops, despite sustaining losses.[36] China's suspicion of India's involvement in Tibet created more rifts between the two countries.[37]

In 1962, the Indian Army was ordered to move to the Thag La ridge, located near the border between Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh and about 5 kilometres (3 miles) north of the disputed McMahon Line. Meanwhile, Chinese troops had also made incursions into Indian-held territory, and tensions between the two reached a new high when Indian forces discovered the road constructed by China in Aksai Chin. After a series of failed negotiations, the People's Liberation Army attacked Indian Army positions on the Thag La ridge. This move by China caught India by surprise; and on 12 October Nehru gave orders for the Chinese to be expelled from Aksai Chin. However, poor co-ordination among various divisions of the Indian Army, and the late decision to mobilise the Indian Air Force in vast numbers, gave China a crucial tactical and strategic advantage over India. On 20 October, Chinese soldiers attacked India from both the northwest and northeast, and captured large portions of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.

As the fighting moved beyond disputed territories, China called on the Indian government to negotiate; however, India remained determined to regain lost territory. With no agreement in sight, China unilaterally withdrew its forces from Arunachal Pradesh. The reasons for the withdrawal are disputed, with India claiming various logistical problems for China and diplomatic support from the United States, while China stated that it still held territory it had staked a claim on. The dividing line between the Indian and Chinese forces was named the Line of Actual Control.

The poor decisions made by India's military commanders, and the political leadership, raised several questions. The Henderson-Brooks and Bhagat committee was soon set up by the government of India to determine the causes of the poor performance of the Indian Army. Its report criticised the decision not to allow the Indian Air Force to target Chinese transport lines, out of fear of a Chinese aerial counter-attack on Indian civilian areas. Much of the blame was placed on the then–defence minister, Krishna Menon, who resigned from his post soon after the war ended. Despite frequent calls for its release, the Henderson-Brooks report still remains classified.[38] Neville Maxwell has written an account of the war.[39]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

A second confrontation with Pakistan took place in 1965. Although the war is described as inconclusive, India had the better of the war and was the clear winner in tactical and strategic terms.[40][41][42] Pakistani president Ayub Khan launched Operation Gibraltar in August 1965, during which Pakistani paramilitary troops infiltrated into Indian-administered Kashmir and attempted to ignite anti-India agitation in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani leaders believed that India, which was still recovering from the Sino-Indian War, would be unable to deal with a military thrust and a Kashmiri rebellion. India reacted swiftly and launched a counter-offensive against Pakistan. In reply, on 1 September Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam, invading India's Chamb-Jaurian sector. In retaliation, the Indian Army launched a major offensive all along its border with Pakistan, with Lahore as its prime target.

Indian Army officer next to a destroyed Pakistani Sherman tank, after the battle of Asal Uttar.

Initially, the Indian Army met with considerable success in the northern sector. After launching prolonged artillery barrages against Pakistan, India was able to capture three important mountain positions in Kashmir. By 9 September, the Indian Army had made considerable inroads into Pakistan. India had its largest haul of Pakistani tanks when an offensive by Pakistan's 1st Armoured Division was blunted at the Battle of Asal Uttar, which took place on 10 September near Khemkaran.[43] The biggest tank battle of the war was the Battle of Chawinda, the largest tank battle in history after World War II. Pakistan's defeat at the Battle of Asal Uttar hastened the end of the conflict.[43]

At the time of the ceasefire declaration, India reported casualties of about 3,000. On the other hand, it was estimated that more than 3,800 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the conflict.[44][45][46] About 200–300 Pakistani tanks were either destroyed or captured by India. India lost a total of 150-190 tanks during the conflict.[43][47] The decision to return to pre-war positions, following the Tashkent Declaration, caused an outcry in New Delhi. It was widely believed that India's decision to accept the ceasefire was due to political factors, not military, since it was facing considerable pressure from the United States and the United Nations to cease hostilities.[48]

1967 Sino-Indian conflict

The 1967 Sino-Indian skirmish, also known as the Cho La incident, was a military conflict between Indian troops and members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army who, on 1 October 1967, invaded Sikkim, which was then a protectorate of India. On 10 October, both sides clashed again. Defence minister Sardar Swaran Singh assured the Indian people that the government was taking care of developments along the border. Indian losses were 88 killed, and 163 wounded, while Chinese casualties were 300 killed and 450 wounded in Nathula, and 40 in Chola.[49] The Chinese Army left Sikkim after this defeat.[50][51][52]

Operation against the Naxalites during 1971

Under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, during the president's rule in 1971, the Indian Army and the Indian police launched Operation Steeplechase, a gigantic "counter-insurgency" operation against the Naxalites, which resulted in the death of hundreds of Naxalites and the imprisonment of more than 20,000 suspects and cadres, including senior leaders.[53] The army was also assisted by a brigade of para commandos and the Indian paramilitary. The operation was organised in October 1969, and Lieutenant General J.F.R. Jacob was enjoined by Govind Narain, the Home Secretary, that "there should be no publicity and no records". Jacob's request to be presented with written orders was also refused by Sam Manekshaw.[54]

Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971

An independence movement broke out in East Pakistan which was crushed by Pakistani forces. Due to large-scale atrocities against them, thousands of Bengalis took refuge in neighbouring India causing a major refugee crisis there. In early 1971, India declared its full-support for the Bengali rebels, known as Mukti Bahini, and Indian agents were extensively involved in covert operations to aid them.

On 20 November 1971, the Indian Army moved 14 Punjab Battalion, of the 45th Cavalry regiment, into Garibpur, a strategically important town in East Pakistan, near India's border, and successfully captured it. The following day, more clashes took place between Indian and Pakistani forces. Wary of India's growing involvement in the Bengali rebellion, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched a preemptive strike on 10 Indian air bases—at Srinagar, Jammu, Pathankot, Amritsar, Agra, Adampur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Uttarlai, and Sirsa—at 17:45 hours on 3 December. However, this aerial offensive failed to accomplish its objectives, and gave India an excuse to declare a full-scale war against Pakistan the same day. By midnight, the Indian Army, accompanied by the Indian Air Force, launched a major three-pronged assault into East Pakistan. The Indian Army won several battles on the eastern front including the decisive Battle of Hilli. The operation also included a battalion-level airborne operation on Tangail, which resulted in the capitulation of all resistance within five days.[55] India's massive early gains were attributed largely to the speed and flexibility with which Indian armoured divisions moved across East Pakistan.[56]

Lt Gen A A K Niazi (right), Commander of the Pakistani Eastern Command, signing the Instrument of Surrender under the gaze of Lt Gen J S Aurora.

Pakistan launched a counterattack against India on the western front. On 4 December 1971, A Company of the 23rd Battalion of India's Punjab Regiment intercepted the Pakistani 51st Infantry Brigade near Ramgarh, Rajasthan. The Battle of Longewala ensued, during which A Company, though outnumbered, thwarted the Pakistani advance until the Indian Air Force directed its fighters to engage the Pakistani tanks. By the time the battle had ended, 38 Pakistani tanks and 100 armoured vehicles were either destroyed or abandoned. About 200 Pakistani troops were killed in action, while only two Indian soldiers lost their lives. Pakistan suffered another major defeat on the western front at the Battle of Basantar, which was fought from 4 to 16 December. During the battle, about 66 Pakistani tanks were destroyed and 40 more were captured. Pakistani forces were destroyed only 11 Indian tanks.[57] By 16 December, Pakistan had lost sizeable territory on both the eastern and western fronts.

On 16 December 1971, under the command of Lt. General J. S. Arora, elements of the three corps of the Indian Army that had invaded East Pakistan entered Dhaka and forced Pakistani forces to surrender, one day after the conclusion of the Battle of Basantar. After Pakistan's Lt General A. A. K. Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender, India took more than 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war. By the time of the signing, 11,000 Pakistani soldiers had been killed in action, while India suffered 3,500 battle-related deaths.[45] In addition, Pakistan lost 220 tanks during the battle compared to India's 69.[58]

In 1972, the Simla Agreement was signed between the two countries, although subsequent incidences of heightened tensions has resulted in continued military vigilance on both sides.

Siachen conflict (1984)

A memorial for the 22 Indian Army Medical Corps at the War Cemetery in Taiping, Perak

The Siachen Glacier, although a part of the Kashmir region, was not demarcated on maps prepared and exchanged between the two sides in 1947. In consequence, prior to the 1980s neither India nor Pakistan maintained a permanent military presence in the region. However, beginning in the 1950s, Pakistan began sending mountaineering expeditions to the glacier. By the early 1980s, the Government of Pakistan was granting special expedition permits to mountaineers and United States Army maps showed Siachen as a part of Pakistan. This practice gave rise to the term oropolitics.

India, possibly irked by these developments, launched Operation Meghdoot in April 1984. An entire battalion of the Kumaon Regiment was airlifted to the glacier. Pakistani forces responded quickly, and clashes between the two followed. The Indian Army secured the strategic Sia La and Bilafond La mountain passes, and by 1985 more than 2,600 km2 (1,000 sq mi) of territory claimed by Pakistan was under Indian control.[59] The Indian Army continues to control all of the Siachen Glacier and its tributary glaciers. Pakistan has made several unsuccessful attempts to regain control over Siachen. In late 1987, Pakistan mobilised about 8,000 troops and garrisoned them near Khapalu, aiming to capture Bilafond La.[60] However, they were repulsed by Indian Army personnel guarding Bilafond. During the battle, about 23 Indian soldiers lost their lives, while more than 150 Pakistani troops perished.[61] Further unsuccessful attempts to reclaim positions were launched by Pakistan in 1990, 1995, 1996, and 1999, most notably in Kargil in the latter year.

India continues to maintain a strong military presence in the region, despite inhospitable conditions. The conflict over Siachen is regularly cited as an example of mountain warfare.[62][63] The highest peak in the Siachen Glacier region, Saltoro Kangri, could be viewed as strategically important for India because of its height, which would enable Indian forces to monitor Pakistani or Chinese movements in the area.[64] Maintaining control over Siachen poses several logistical challenges for the Indian Army. Several infrastructure projects were constructed in the region, including a helipad at an elevation of 6,400 m (21,000 ft).[65] In 2004, the Indian Army was spending an estimated US$2 million a month to support its personnel stationed in the region.[66]

Counter-insurgency activities

The Indian Army has played a crucial role in fighting insurgents and terrorists within the nation. The army launched Operation Blue Star and Operation Woodrose in the 1980s to combat Sikh insurgents. The army, along with some paramilitary forces, has the prime responsibility of maintaining law and order in the troubled Jammu and Kashmir region, under Northern Command. The Indian Army sent a contingent to Sri Lanka in 1987 as a part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force.[67][68][69] The Indian Army also successfully conducted Operation Golden Bird in 1995, as a counter-insurgency operation in northeast India.[70]

Kargil war (1999)

In 1998, India carried out nuclear tests; and a few days later, Pakistan responded with nuclear tests of its own, giving both countries nuclear deterrence capability, although India had tested a hydrogen bomb, which Pakistan lacked. Diplomatic tensions eased after the Lahore Summit was held in 1999. However, the sense of optimism was short-lived. In mid-1999, Pakistani paramilitary forces and Kashmiri insurgents captured the deserted, but strategic, Himalayan heights in the Kargil district of India. These had been vacated by the Indian Army during the onset of the inhospitable winter and were to be reoccupied in spring. The troops that took control of these areas received important support, of both arms and supplies, from Pakistan. Some of the heights under their control, which also included the Tiger Hill, overlooked the vital SrinagarLeh Highway (NH 1A), Batalik, and Dras.

Kargil War Memorial looking at National Highway 1 from the foot of Tololing

Once the scale of the Pakistani incursion was realised, the Indian Army quickly mobilised about 200,000 troops, and Operation Vijay was launched. However, since the heights were under Pakistani control, India was at a clear strategic disadvantage. From their observation posts, the Pakistani forces had a clear line-of-sight to lay down indirect artillery fire on NH 1A, inflicting heavy casualties on the Indians.[71] This was a serious problem for the Indian Army as the highway was its main supply route.[72] Thus, the Indian Army's first priority was to recapture peaks that were in the immediate vicinity of NH 1A. This resulted in Indian troops first targeting the Tiger Hill and Tololing complex in Dras.[73] This was soon followed by more attacks on the Batalik–Turtok sub-sector, which provided access to Siachen Glacier. Point 4590, which had the nearest view of the NH 1A, was successfully recaptured by Indian forces on 14 June.[74]

Kargil War Memorial, built to honor fallen soldiers.

Though most of the posts in the vicinity of the highway were cleared of the enemy by mid-June, some posts near Dras endured sporadic shelling until the end of the war. Once the NH 1A area was cleared, the Indian Army turned to driving the invading force back across the Line of Control. The Battle of Tololing, among others, slowly tilted the war in India's favour. Nevertheless, some Pakistani posts put up a stiff resistance, including Tiger Hill (Point 5140), which fell only later in the war. As the operation was fully under way, about 250 artillery guns were brought in to clear the infiltrators in posts that were in the line-of-sight. At many vital points, neither artillery nor air power could dislodge the Pakistan soldiers, who were out of visible range. The Indian Army mounted some direct frontal ground assaults, which were slow and took a heavy toll, given the steep ascents that had to be made on peaks as high as 5,500 m (18,000 ft). Two months into the conflict, Indian troops had slowly retaken most of the ridges they had lost.[75][76] According to official accounts, an estimated 75%–80% of the enemy-occupied area, and nearly all the high ground, was back under Indian control.

Following the Washington Accord of 4 July, where Sharif agreed to withdraw Pakistani troops, most of the fighting came to a gradual halt; but some Pakistani forces remained in positions on the Indian side of the LOC. In addition, the United Jihad Council (an umbrella group for all extremists) rejected Pakistan's plan for a draw-down, deciding instead to fight on.[77] The Indian Army launched its final attacks in the last week of July. As soon as the Dras sub-sector had been cleared of Pakistani forces, the fighting ceased on 26 July, which has since been celebrated as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day) in India. By the end of the war, India had resumed control of all the territory south and east of the Line of Control, as was established in July 1972 per the Shimla Accord. By the time all hostilities had ended, the number of Indian soldiers killed during the conflict stood at 527,[78] while more than 700 regular members of the Pakistani Army had been killed.[79] The number of Islamist fighters, also known as Mujahideen, killed by Indian armed forces during the conflict stood at about 3,000.

2016 Surgical Strikes on Kashmir and the 2016–2018 India-Pakistan conflict

On 18 September 2016, a fedayeen attack was made by four armed militants on an army base near the town of Uri. Nineteen Indian Army soldiers were killed. India accused Jaish-e-Muhammad, a Pakistan-based terrorist organisation.[80] On 29 September 2016, the India Army announced that it conducted "surgical strikes" against militant launch pads across the Line of Control, in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, and inflicted "significant casualties".[81] Indian media reported the casualty figures variously from 35 to 70 killed.[82][83] Partial footage of the strikes was released to the Indian media on 27 June 2018 as proof of the strike.[84][85][86] The incident triggered the 2016–2018 India-Pakistan border conflict, which ended on 16 June 2018 with both India and Pakistan agreeing on a ceasefire.[87][88]

United Nations peacekeeping missions

Indian T-72 armored tanks in Somalia, as part of the UN peacekeeping mission

India has been the largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping missions since its inception. So far, India has taken part in 43 Peacekeeping missions, with a total contribution exceeding 160,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel having been deployed. In 2014, India was the third largest troop contributor (TCC), with 7,860 personnel deployed, of which 995 were police personnel, including the first UN Female Formed Police Unit, serving with ten UN peacekeeping missions.[89][90] As of 30 June 2014, 157 Indians have been killed during such missions.[91] The Indian army has also provided paramedical units to facilitate the withdrawal of the sick and wounded.

Indo-China Doklam issue

Major exercises

Operation Brasstacks

Operation Brasstacks was launched by the Indian Army in November 1986 to simulate a full-scale war on India's western border. The exercise was the largest ever conducted in India; it included nine infantry, three mechanised, three armoured divisions, and one air assault division, as well as three independent armoured brigades. Amphibious assault exercises were also conducted with the Indian Navy. Brasstacks also allegedly incorporated nuclear attack drills. It led to tensions with Pakistan and a subsequent rapprochement in mid-1987.[92][93]

Exercise Nomadic Elephant

Since 2004, and every year since, the Indian Army has been conducting training exercises with the Mongolian Army. In 2012, the exercise took place in Belgaum; in June 2013, it was held in Mongolia. The aim of the exercises is to enhance counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations, and to train in conducting peacekeeping operations under the mandate of the United Nations.[94][95]

Exercise Ashwamedha

Indian Army tested its network-centric warfare capabilities in the Ashwamedha exercise. The exercise was held in the Thar desert, and over 300,000 troops participated.[96] Asymmetric warfare capability was also tested by the Indian Army during the exercise.[97]

Exercise Yudh Abhyas

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Yudh Abhyas 2012 – US and Indian Army military exercise video trailer

The Yudh Abhyas exercise is an ongoing series, since 2005, of joint exercises between the Indian and United States armies, agreed upon under the New Framework of the India-US Defence Relationship. Commencing at the platoon level, the exercise has graduated to a command post (CPX) and field training exercise (FTX).

The seventh edition of Yudh Abhyas began on 5 March 2012, in two locations under the South Western Command. The US Army contingent is from the US Army Pacific (USARPAC), part of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). The command post exercise has an engineer brigade headquarters, with its planners drawn from both countries, while the field training exercise comprises troops of the United States' 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, from the 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii, along with a Stryker platoon, and a similarly sized Indian Army contingent of mechanised infantry. A number of key surveillance, communications, and improvised-explosive-device detection and neutralisation technologies, available to both sides, were fielded in the exercise.[98]

Indian Army Aviation Corps Dhruv helicopter ferrying U.S soldiers during the Yudh Abhyas training exercise in 2009
Indian army armoured vehicles during Yudh Abhyas exercises

The eighth edition of Yudh Abhyas was conducted from 3 to 17 May 2013 as a U.S.-Army-Pacific-sponsored bilateral training exercise with the Indian Army, an exercise that focused on the two countries' cultures, weapons training, and tactics. Units from the United States included the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment. Units from India were the Indian Army's 99th Mountain Brigade; the 2nd Battalion, 5th Gurka Rifles; the 50th Independent Parachute Brigade; and the 54th Engineers Regiment.[99][100][101][102]

Exercise Shakti

The Shakti exercise is an ongoing series, since 2011, of joint exercises between the Indian and French armies. The exercise is conducted to practice and validate anti-terrorist operations in snowbound and mountainous areas. The first joint exercise was held in India in October 2011 and the second one in September 2013. The theme of the exercise is to conduct joint platoon-level counter-insurgency operations in high-altitude mountainous terrain under the UN Charter, thus emphasising the shared concerns of both countries regarding global terrorism. An added aim of the exercise is to qualitatively enhance knowledge of each other's military procedures, thus increasing the scope for interoperability and the ability to respond to a common threat. The twelve-day exercise with the French Army is scheduled to be conducted in multiple modules in order to achieve complete integration between the two contingents at every stage.[103][104]

Exercise Shoorveer

From the first week of April to the first week of May 2012, the Indian Army launched a massive summer exercise in the Rajasthan desert, involving over 50,000 troops and several hundred artillery pieces and infantry combat vehicles, as part of its efforts to shore up its battle worthiness on the western front, the border with Pakistan. The exercise, code-named "Shoorveer", was being conducted by the Jaipur-based South Western Command. This was the largest ever exercise conducted by Indian army since 1947. The collective training started with the honing of basic battle procedures and tactical drills.

A number of field firings were carried out to check the accuracy and lethality of weapon systems. Many innovations, adopted by units and formations to enhance combat power, were tested in the field. The troops built on the training momentum gradually, with increasing combat tempo, to set the stage for a major joint army–air force exercise in the later part of the exercise.[105]

Exercise Rudra Akrosh

In May 2012, the Indian Army conducted a number of war games aimed (according to officials) at validating "the operational and transformational effectiveness of various formations under the Western Army Command".[106] The exercise involved approximately 20,000 troops and support from the Indian Air Force.

Exercise Shatrujeet

In April 2016, the Indian Army conducted a major exercise called Shatrujeet, with the elite Mathura-based Strike Corps in the desert area of the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan, whose object was to evaluate the capability to strike deep into enemy territory, to deliver a quick, lethal strike against the enemy in an integrated air-land battle environment, with co-ordination among all the forces in a nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare scenario.[107][108][109]

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