Those with an interest in military history and particularly Indopak military history may find these links interesting:
1. http://www.nps.edu/Academics/Centers/CCC/Research/StudentTheses/Acosta03.pdf an excellent summary of the Kargil war by the US Naval postgraduate school.
2. http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/kargil.pdf A more recent summary focused on airpower but with a good summary of the whole affair..
3. Role of the Pakistan air force: http://kaiser-aeronaut.blogspot.com/2009/01/kargil-conflict-and-pakistan-air-force.html
Back in 1999 I thought that Musharraf should have been dismissed and even tried for his role in the affair, but I also (at least to some extent) bought into the propaganda that the operation was a “great tactical success but a strategic blunder”. As time went on and more details came out it became clear that the planning at the tactical level was as bad as the stupidities and mistaken assumptions that underlay the strategic vision of General Musharraf, his pet generals, and Force Commander Northern Areas, General Javed Hassan. The men (primarily NLI plus some SSG) who did the actual fighting performed with suicidal bravery, but had little more than a snowball’s chance in hell once the Indian army learned from its early mistakes and brought all resources to bear on the operation Men were left to literally starve and bleed to death while Javed Hassan and his boss tried to bluster on. Musharraf’s coup protected the plotters from facing any consequences within Pakistan and a systematic disinformation campaign by GHQ’s psyops people has created an impression of tactical brilliance that still dominates the narrative within Pakistan. These reports provide a good corrective and one hopes that the day may still come when Musharraf and Javed Hassan in particular will be tried for their role in this terrible disaster…a disaster that led to hundreds of needless deaths on both sides in an operation that civilian prime minister Benazir was able to see as “crazy” at first glance. Unfortunately, Nawaz Sharif was not that sharp…
Given how long it takes most armies (not to speak of the Indian army) to learn from their mistakes DURING the course of a battle, the Indian commanders on the spot deserve some credit for belying stereotypes and actually thinking and adapting while the battle was on. The British Indian army was a fine fighting force, but not one known for innovation and flexible thinking. Either India got lucky in a few officers on the spot, e.g. artillery commander Brigadier Lakhwinder Singh and GOC 8 mountain div General Puri (http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/kargil-a-ringside-view/0/) or it really does have a better culture of officership than its mother army did.
Subsequent shenanigans in the Indian army (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/kargil-veteran-major-general-lakhwinder-singh-goes-to-court-after-being-denied-promotion/1/182017.html and http://www.brownpundits.com/2012/03/29/the-indian-army-has-its-moment-in-the-news/) seem to indicate that the first might be the case (luck, not superior military culture…though the blame for these embarrassing episodes may lie more with the babus in the ministry of defence and their civilian masters, who failed to nip this in the bud, than with the officers). UPDATE: given General VK Singh’s latest outburst, I think we can safely say that the blame for the recent shenanigans surrounding General Singh does not lie entirely with the oft-maligned babus and politicians.
This was my reply to a comment below, i am copying it here since it clarifies the post a little more:
My point was that it was not even a “tactical success”. It was poorly planned and once the Indian army found its feet, leaving those men out on the peaks to die was hardly a sign of brilliant tactical execution. The basic TACTICAL assumptions that:
1. Heights, once occupied, could be held by small groups for at least the entire summer.
2. Those men could be resupplied with food and water and ammo for months using mountain trails and helicopters, under fire.
3. The Indian army was incapable of attacking from any direction except straight up the front slopes, where they would be cut down like “gajjar and mooli”.
4. and beneath all that, a lingering notion that “our boys” will be suicidally brave and the other side will not be so.
All these assumptions proved wrong. After some early charges that failed with heavy casualties (but also showed that Indian troops were perfectly capable of suicidal bravery of their own) the Indian army figured out how to use its artillery to great effect and went up near vertical slopes at night under cover of accurate artillery fire and recaptured crucial heights. They also managed to interdict most of the resupply effort, leaving freezing pakistani troops exposed on the heights without food or water. There is no evidence that either Javed Hassan or Musharraf understood that their assumptions had proven wrong, or if they did, that they made any real effort to come up with solutions. Musharraf seems to have focused mostly on making sure the blame could be put on Nawaz Sharif and that some sort of domestic (or intra-army) propaganda victory could be salvaged from the disaster.
The status quo is indeed in India’s favor by now. The critical period for India was early nineties. Once they got past that, they were never going to be kicked out by force….and by using Jihadis and then the regular army (in Kargil) and failing, Pakistan has already played all its cards. I dont see how that status quo can now be changed.
Human rights campaigners all over the world have my sympathy (even when they are selective in their concern or delusional in their view of reality..as in code-pink flying planning to go to Waziristan…its ridiculously out of touch with events on the ground but unless a couple of them get kidnapped, no harm done) but can someone point to a case where international human rights concerns caused a major nation state to say “sorry; here you go, you can have it”. I think that dream will remain unfulfilled. In fact, I am a bit surprised when Indian supporters get so hot and bothered by any hint of a human rights campaign involving Kashmir. If I was in their place, I would relax. This game is over.
Addendum: some Indian army commentator has pointed out that not all posts captured had run out of food. In some cases the Indian attackers were the ones starving by the time they made it to the top (easy to imagine; some of the uphill assaults took 3 days of climbing stealthily at night and hiding immobile by day) and they found honey, butter, nuts etc in the Pakistani positions. So it may be more accurate to say that some posts ran out of food and water, not all. But the overall point remains: even tactically, the operation was no grand success. After the Indians found their feet, it was a matter of time…see for example this Indian version of the capture of Tololing http://www.kashmir-information.com/Heroes/tololing.html (even if every detail is not true, its quite possible that the food had not run out on Tololing..of course, it was also one of the earlier battles)
Btw, dont miss General Shahid Aziz, who used to be Musharraf’s DGMO (director general military operations), CGS (chief of general staff) and then corps commander Lahore (and is now saying he repents siding with infidels against the afghan mujahideen), who is going on about kargil being a disaster caused by Musharraf.
He is backing away a bit now that other army officers have accused him of washing the army’s dirty linen in public.