Small Wars Journal

Restraint as a Successful Strategy in the 1999 Kargil Conflict

Sun, 06/15/2008 - 11:52am
Restraint as a Successful Strategy in the 1999 Kargil Conflict

by Colonel Devendra Pratap Pandey, Indian Army, Small Wars Journal

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In 1999, General Pervez Musharraf, then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of the Pakistan Army, orchestrated a major intrusion into an unoccupied but strategically sensitive complex of Kargil along the northern border of India. The Kargil intrusion was an operation of strategic importance conducted by Pakistan to provide a much required momentum to its weakening proxy war in the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a state of India. Pakistan had waged an irregular war, in J&K, for a decade, exploiting religious similarities to incite secessionist activities, by actively supporting, financing, and training insurgents, while exporting foreign radicals and so called jihadist elements across the borders. This latest aggression across the border by the Pakistan Army was another attempt to redeem its prestige after the defeats of 1947-48, 1965, and 1971. The 1998-99 act of intrusion was of even greater significance because it was enacted during a political peace process when the then Indian Prime Minister was visiting Pakistan on invitation. The surprise intrusion, along a stretch of the border that had historically remained peaceful due to the terrain difficulties, was a spark in an already charged regional tinderbox.

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There seems to be an implication here that the war in Iraq transformed a petty criminal with a perverted bent of mind into a symbolic heroic figure. I assume he means UBL.

I beg to disagree. The tremendous victory AQ achieved by leveling downtown NYC and doing major damage to the Pentagon, bringing all air travel in the USA to a halt and the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of Americans fleeing their two most important cities elevated him to heroic symbol. As the good LTC noted victory pumps up the masses, in particular when they pay no price in blood for it. Perhaps he missed the coverage of the crowds in the street jeering and cheering next door in Pakistan.

Our response was in fact measured and restrained. We could have launched nuclear weapons and destroyed one or more countries, which is what the man on the street wanted.

Instead we sought NATO, UN approval and built international support for the incursion into Afghanistan, which was absolutely a Just War.

The Iraq war, while Just given the evidence at the time, and in view of the fact that the Iraq war really began in 1991 and continues today, was primarily a failure to have a occupation plan, to mount an effective COIN war, and above all else a failure of Information Operations at home and abroad. Basically the Administration failed to make its case, and the Defense establishment to include our Generals failed to craft an effective strategy until 2007. The Military now seems to have a winning strategy militarily, politically and diplomatically for Iraq. The White House continues to let its opposition and an extremely hostile media shape the message, it is rumored in well placed sources that they feel the first and final draft of history is written by the media, and it's pointless to argue.

Finally India's long term strategy of restraint has not gained her domestic security, indeed terrorist attacks deep within her own territory are escalating. On the other hand, America has not been struck on her soil in seven years, with the exception of deranged loners acting alone.