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Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Philip
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Philip » 09 Sep 1999 19:12

The India Today article is the first time that the magazine which is a supporter of the govt's position on many issues has come out questioning the army's version of events.The Indian Express in a front page article said that while there were no specific letter addressed to the COAS by Singh,warnings were given by him,the IB and others about paki plans for kargil and that there were requests for surveillance by air,patrols etc.Outlook magazine also stands by it's story and in it's l;atest issue has this to say which may clarify some of the "fog of the media war" on the issue!<P>There seems to me to be two issues.To take a quote from Watergate,"What did the COAS know about the Kargil intrusions and when did he know it?".Singghs warnings before are a fact,even if he sent them to his immediate superior,with whom he had a strained relationship.The fact that the reltionship was strained should've been tackled by the top brass at HQ,especially in view of the sensitive command in question.Singh';as behaviour after Kargil blew up,that is his handling of the men under his control is the second question.In other words his competency.It is a fact that there was enormous confusion at the beginning of the war because the govt was improperly briefed by the Army,take George fernandes' statements that the invaders would be turfed out within 48 hrs.90 days later they were still there and are still coming into Kashmir/Kupwara wherever even as we speak!<P>Here is the view from Outlook.<P>KARGIL<BR>Not The Whole Picture<BR>The army headquarters’ denials have only raised more questions about the security failures<P>By Nitin A Gokhale and Ajith Pillai<P>Serious attempts are being made to discredit the shocking revelations of security negligence that have come to light following disclosures of the warning letters of Brig Surinder Singh, the Kargil commander, printed in Outlook and other newspapers. It’s a pity that instead of looking at the mounting evidence that clearly substantiates the charge of failure at the highest level, the government and the army top brass are out to sully the name of the brigadier and to obfuscate the whole issue of national security through contradictory and misleading statements.<P>Despite denials from army headquarters on the reports printed in Outlook concerning the warnings by Brig Singh on the increased threat perception along the border, the magazine stands by its story.<P>A petition filed by Brig Singh in the Punjab and Haryana High Court which came up for hearing on August 20 clearly brings out the fact that warnings had been given by the Kargil brigadier.<P>"The petitioner does not wish to mince words in stating that after taking over the charge of the Kargil brigade, during the various briefings which he had conducted with senior officers, including the chief of army staff (coas), the threat perceptions were correctly projected," the petition notes, adding that "all these were well documented in the form of written briefs and letters. The projections were not rightly appreciated and he was termed as alarmist in casual conversation."<P>Sources close to the family who are in touch with Brig Surinder Singh told Outlook the following on the morning of September 3:<P>Brig Surinder Singh stands by whatever has been reported by Outlook in its various Kargil write-ups. <BR>The lawyer, R.S. Randhawa, who denied the existence of the November 12 letter to a section of the press, had not spoken to the brigadier or his family. Family sources said the lawyer cannot deny the existence of the letters. <BR>The former brigade commander, who has already been transferred six times in the past three months, has been threatened with a court martial and other disciplinary action. <BR>Significantly, the writ petition Randhawa filed on behalf of Brig Singh in the Punjab and Haryana High Court concerned only the matter of his frequent transfers. While it mentioned without any details Singh’s various warnings, it pertained largely to the harassment he faced on account of the transfers. It does not have the November 12 letter.<P>Outlook has seen the writ petition and the annexures. The only documents appended are the various transfer/movement orders and telegrams asking the brigadier to report to various locations. They did not have any of the so-called 26 annexures the brigadier had attached in his final letter to the coas. Neither were any notes and briefings attached.<P>But the petition notes that despite submissions and requests regarding threats from across the border "to the higher authorities including the coas and the general officer commanding of 3 Infantry Division no corrective measures were taken to check the situation leading to the Kargil episode."<P>As for the latest army headquarters denials, they are a marked departure from the earlier posture that there were no warnings and that Singh was a "disgruntled" officer who was merely using the media to push a case which had no basis. Even the briefing given to the chief at Kargil on August 29, ’98, was being denied. Now army headquarters seems to be accepting that the briefing did take place. But it still denies that the file pertaining to the briefings was ever sent to Gen Malik. <P>To come to the army headquarters’ denial point-by-point:<P>The August 25, ’98 File: (HQ 121 Inf Bde letter No. Brief/coas/124/gsd/vif/dg)<P>The army headquarters says that no such letter was received by the coas secretariat. However, the fact is that the file in question was initiated by Brig Surinder Singh on directions from his immediate boss, Maj Gen V.S. Budhwar, on August 25, ’98.<P>According to Budhwar’s instructions, Singh was to outline the threat perceptions in the sector and the resources required which he was to present at a briefing to the army chief. The briefing took place on August 29, ’98. Gen Malik then asked Singh to send the main points to him in a written brief. The August 25 file, which outlined the threat perception and the additional resources needed, was sent to the army chief bearing the reference number of the file already sent to Budhwar.<P>This explains the discrepancy between the date of reference on the file and the date of the actual briefing.<P>The army headquarters’ denial says that in his briefing to the coas, Brig Singh made no mention of immediate or enhanced threat from across the LoC. Outlook has reconfirmed that the enhanced threats at various points had come up for discussion and Singh had made his demands for additional resources.<P>Letters No. 106/GS (Ops)/Brief/coas/124/ gsd/vif dated September 1, ’98 and 186/GS/ Ops dated December 17, ’98:<P>Army headquarters has conveniently denied that the coas secretariat has not received these letters. The fact is that the magazine’s report very clearly said that these letters were addressed to Maj Gen Budhwar. Therefore, there was no question of these letters reaching the coas.<P>The army headquarters states that during his briefing to the coas on August 29, ’98, Brig Singh did make a demand for allotment of weapon locating radars and remote-piloted vehicles.<P>This is exactly what we reported. While the army headquarters accepts that Brig Singh did ask for remote-piloted vehicles and weapon locating radar systems as mentioned in our report, it conveniently denies that he pointed out the likely points of infiltration/incursions during the briefing.<P>The do/rog/coas dated November 12, ’98, is the crucial letter from Brig Singh to the army chief which the coas secretariat denies it had received because Brig Singh was not authorised to write to the chief.<P>The fact of the matter is that a non-statutory rog (redressal of grievances) was sent by the brigadier which is his right. There have been many instances when junior officers have written directly to the coas. The non-statuary rog route provides a channel for an officer to bypass the chain of command and appeal to the army chief. This mode of communication is meant for those who have complaints against their immediate superiors. One of Singh’s main problems, as spelt out in the rog, was his professional differences with his superior, Maj Gen Budhwar.<P>Interestingly, a serving general is now reportedly heading an inquiry to establish whether Brig Singh played a direct role in leaking this letter and other "demi-official" (DO) notes. If no such letters existed, why is the inquiry on? In fact, a contingency plan seems to be already in place whereby the army authorities could take the plea that the DO letter was lost in transit.<P>Army headquarters also says the letters quoted in the Outlook story haven’t been included in the annexures attached to Brig Singh’s letter No. 29734/SS/Conf dated June 28, ’99.<P>Indeed, these letters may not have formed part of the annexures. But Brig Singh wrote not 26 but over 50 letters to various higher officials between August ’98 till he was removed from command in June ’99. All these were not annexed to the letter dated June 28, ’99. It must be noted that this magazine’s report is not based merely on the June 28, ’99 letter.<P>There seems to be a systematic effort to confuse the issue. The army headquarters has been orchestrating reports in the press through an unofficial briefing to senior mediapersons. Based on this August 26 briefing, The Times of India reported in its August 27 edition: "The sources said the forces were equally miffed by the attempts being made by certain political formations to level charges about the conduct of the Kargil conflict by relying on documents which should not have reached them in the first place (since they were confidential) and which in any case were written with dubious intent." Clearly, the army was accepting that letters were written by Brig Singh.<P>Exactly a week later, after this magazine’s cover story on the Kargil letters, the army top brass in its various official as well as unofficial briefings now denies the very existence of these letters. Moreover, army authorities are totally silent on the question of the destruction of ammunition worth nearly Rs 500 crore in Kargil, which was reported in the same issue. The report had detailed how the Kargil brigade’s warnings on the threat of enemy artillery rounds falling on the ammunition dump in Kargil were ignored. A huge quantity of additional ammunition was instead rushed in which became an easy target for the enemy.<P>Clearly, several questions remained unanswered. Going by media reports, the army headquarters’ latest ploy is to divert attention from the army chief. Surinder Singh may have sent out warnings, but not to the chief. The warnings themselves are being ignored. In short, they are shooting the messenger, not the message.<p>[This message has been edited by Rakesh Koshy (edited 13-09-1999).]

Gayatri
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Gayatri » 09 Sep 1999 20:31

doesnt that mean BJP is unfit and cannot protect the country ?<P>I dont want to support Congress Image<P>and now I have started having doubts about BJP 's effciency - I mean, atleast we didnt have wars during congress 's rule right ?<P>

Sarma
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Sarma » 09 Sep 1999 21:28

Gayatri, any conclusions that BJP cannot protect national security are too far-fetched. The question one should ask is: The Kargil intrusion having taken place, what would be the reaction of a non-BJP government? I bet you, any non-BJP would not have acted in the tough manner the current govt has. For example, after the 1971 war, we were in a commanding position having held 90000 POWs. They were a major bargaining chip in our hands, but what did the Indira govt. do? They just got an empty promise from the Pakis of sticking to bilateralism. In the case of Kargil, atleast Vajpayee rejected all the useless peace offers coming from Pakistan and stood firm in the face of mounting international pressure to halt the hostilities. Here in lies the capacity of a govt. to protect the integrity of the country, i.e., having faced with a tough situation act in a manner that protects the ultimate national interests.<P>In all the previous wars, where a non-BJP govt was in power, they did not act in the manner I outlined above. Hence, India is still the safest in the hands of BJP. Rest assured about that. However, that does not absolve BJP of its grave mistake in not detecting the Kargil intrusion. Atleast, it realised its folly and took corrective measures. There in lies the quality of a good govt.

Gayatri
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Gayatri » 09 Sep 1999 21:40

that way, even we were in a commanding position - but we forcecd our jawans to stop firing at the very people who had killed many of our jawans - imagine their frustration - in a strong position after so much sacrifice, some will argue we should have blasted them away and gone right into LOC with international sympathy on our side, we did give them a safe passage,<BR>we returned the POW's without making sure the Indian POW's were returned.<BR>even now our jawans are dying , but it is being kept on a low profile coz of elections...<BR>so.....<BR>tell me is that a "tough" stand ?

Gayatri
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Gayatri » 09 Sep 1999 21:42

this is getting to be a political discussion though...

Sarma
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Sarma » 09 Sep 1999 22:30

You probably have some misconceptions about the handling of the conflict. Firstly, the govt. placed no restrictions on the artillery firing from our side. The only restriction was not to cross the LoC. This decision though seemed suicidal initially, ultimately proved that Vajpayee is a true statesman (more precisely, a stithapragna). Secondly, we did not return any PoWs without securing the release of any of our soldiers. Incidentally, the only PoW exchanged during the entire period of hostilities was Nachiketa. The 2 Indian soldiers Pakis are talking about now, were not captured during the Kargil war. Technically, they are not PoWs.<P>Thirdly, to begin with, we were never in a strong position in the war. We were always fighting against heavy odds with the intruders having perched themselves on mountain tops. The situation would have been different had we crossed the LoC.<P>Regarding the safe passage, I tend to agree with you. I think this whole thing was part of somekind of behind-the-screens deal worked out between Vajpayee and Sharief. It could also be due to US pressure on India to provide some reprieve for the beleaguered Sharief.<p>[This message has been edited by Sarma (edited 09-09-1999).]

Calvin
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Calvin » 10 Sep 1999 18:59

What the current revelations are indicating is that this "intelligence" failure was not because of lack of resources, but because of lack of analysis and action.<P>Karnad talks about this problem in the Chinese border in IDSA-INDIA.<BR>

ramana
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby ramana » 10 Sep 1999 20:17

Please check out the BR Monitor for my article " Kargil Surprise-Why?" I submit the reason is the police origin of the Indian agencies. They are great at collecting info build dossiers and files. What does all that mean is another issue. <BR>The Western agencies felt the same problems and remedied it by the creation of an evaluation and estimation teams. A book called " My thirty years with the CIA" by Smith gives a fascinating account of how this was solved. They still have surprises though!

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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Kaushal » 10 Sep 1999 20:24

The story that is emerging is that there was insufficient analysis or attention to intelligence even when the top brass was faced with mounting evidence that something was amiss. Whatever the story, it must be fully revealed to the Indian public and then let them judge, who was culpable. I feel there is truth in what Calvin says, that the culprit here is lack of analysis and 'putting it all together'. <P>The question of Bunkers vs. sangars is a troubling one though and one which the army will have a terrible time explaining away. There now seems to be quite a bit of evidence that Puke soldiers were dug in for quite a few months even before the snows settled in 1998. Certainly there is something wrong when the Raksha Mantri says (in May 1999/ the intruders will be driven out in 2 days, indicating he did not know the full extent and scope of the invasion.<P>Of course there will be a lot of CYA going on. That is just human nature, because many careers will come to an abrupt halt as a result of this. I know it is too much to hope but I trust the truth will come out eventually either through the Subrahmaniam commission or through investigative reporting.<P>Kaushal<P>

Gayatri
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Re: Is the Army Covering Up? From India Today

Postby Gayatri » 10 Sep 1999 20:36

sometimes it is so depressing...<BR>Dont TSPites have anything else to do ?<P>And then I feel maybe the real reason it hasnt come to a stop is because of spies amongst politicians , army, navy and airforce ... if we are strong from inside then who can attack us and remain so strong for so long ?<BR>History has it that whenever the British attacked, they made sure they got hold of a greedy person who would become a traitor and cause defeat.....


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