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The Indian Army Essay Questions

This article is about the Indian Army since 1947. For the earlier period, see Military history of India.

Indian Army
Bharatiya Sena

Crest of the Indian Army

Founded1 April 1895; 122 years ago (1895-04-01)
Country India
Size1,237,117 active personnel[1]
960,000 reserve personnel[2]
136 aircraft[3]
Part ofIndian Armed Forces
HeadquartersNew Delhi
Motto(s)"Service Before Self"
ColorsGold, red and black
Anniversaries15 January – Army Day
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS)GeneralBipin Rawat, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM[4]
Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS)Lieutenant GeneralSarath Chand, UYSM, AVSM, VSM[5]
Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
Aircraft flown
HelicopterHAL Rudra
TransportHAL Dhruv, HAL Chetak, HAL Cheetah and Cheetal

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,[6] and it is commanded by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), who is a four-stargeneral. 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 finally became 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 across the world, earning a large number of battle and theatre honours before and after Independence.[7]

The primary mission of the Indian Army is to ensure national security and national unity, defending the nation from external aggression and internal threats, and maintaining peace and security within its borders. It conducts humanitarian rescue operations during natural calamities and other disturbances, like 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.[8] 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. Apart from conflicts, the army has conducted large peace time exercises like 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 and Somalia.

The Indian Army has a regimental system, but is operationally and geographically divided into seven commands, with the basic field formation being a division. It is an all-volunteer force and comprises more than 80% of the country's active defence personnel. It is the 2nd largest standing army in the world, with 1,237,117[9][10] active troops and 960,000 reserve troops.[11][12] 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.[13][14][15]


British Indian Army[edit]

Main article: British Indian Army

Further information: List of regiments of the Indian Army (1903)

A Military Department was created within the Government of the East India Company at Kolkata in the year 1776. Its main function was to sift and record orders relating to the Army that were issued by various Departments of the East India Company for the territories under its control.[16]

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.[17][18][19][20] For administrative convenience, it was divided into four commands at that point, namely Punjab (including the North West Frontier), Bengal, Madras (including Burma) and Bombay (including Sind, Quetta and Aden).[21]

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

World wars[edit]

Main articles: Indian Army during World War I and Indian Army during World War II

In the 20th century, the Indian Army was a crucial adjunct to the 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.[22] 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. Indian officers 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.[23]

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). Their 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.[24] 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.[25][26]

In the African and Middle-Eastern 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.[27]

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 (Gen) Mohan Singh, but later led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Rash Bihari Bose. With the fall of Singapore in 1942, about 40,000 Indian soldiers were captured. They were given a choice and over 30,000 joined the Indian National Army. Those who refused became POWs and were mostly shipped to New Guinea.[28] After initial success it was defeated along with the Japanese, but it had a huge impact on the Indian independence movement. Similar organisations were also formed in Germany and Japan. In 1946 Indian sailors revolted against their British officers in the Royal Indian Navy in 1946.


Upon independence and the subsequent Partition of India 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,[29] and Headquarters Delhi and East Punjab Command was formed to administer the area. Army Day is celebrated on 15 January every year in India, in recognition of Lieutenant GeneralK. M. Cariappa's taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from GeneralSir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander-in-Chief of India, on 15 January 1949.

Conflicts and operations[edit]

Main article: Military operations of India

First Kashmir War (1947)[edit]

Main articles: Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and Kashmir conflict

Immediately after independence, tensions between India and Pakistan began to boil over, and the first of three full-scale wars between the two nations broke out 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.[30] 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 LOC (Line of Control).[citation needed] An uneasy UN sponsored peace returned by the end of 1948 with Indian and Pakistani soldiers facing each other directly on the Line of Control, which has since divided Indian-held Kashmir from Pakistan-held Kashmir. A number of UN resolutions (38–47) were passed calling for a plebiscite to be held in Kashmir to determine accession to India or Pakistan only after Pakistan withdrew its army from Kashmir.[31] 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. With Pakistan refusing to pull back there could be no further dialogue on fulfilling the UN resolution.[32][31] Tensions between India and Pakistan, largely over Kashmir, have never been entirely eliminated.

Annexation of Hyderabad (1948)[edit]

Main article: Operation Polo

After the partition of India, the State of Hyderabad, a princely state under the rule of a Nizam, chose to remain independent. The Nizam, refused to accede his state to the Union of India. 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 the 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, the State of Hyderabad was proclaimed as a part of the Union of India. Major General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri, who led the Operation Polo and accepted the surrender of the Nizam's forces on 18 September 1948, was appointed the military governor of Hyderabad (1948–1949) to restore law and order.

Medical assistance during Korean War (1950–1953)[edit]

Main article: Korean War

During the Korean War, India sent the 60th Indian (Parachute) Field Ambulance unit to aid the UN troops fighting against the Chinese and North Korean invasion of South Korea, though they decided against sending combat forces. The 60th PFA was included in the 1st Commonwealth Division. In the aftermath of the war, an Indian infantry brigade formed the Custodian Force of India as some of the soldiers were also sent to Korea as part of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Committee to assist in the exchange of prisoners of war. The NNRC was commanded by Lt Gen KS Thimayya.[citation needed]

Annexation of Goa, Daman and Diu (1961)[edit]

Main article: Annexation of Goa

Even though the British and French vacated all their colonial possessions in the Indian subcontinent, Portugal refused to relinquish control of its Indian colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu. After repeated attempts by India to negotiate with Portugal for the territory were spurned by Portuguese prime minister and dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, India launched Operation Vijay on 12 December 1961 to take Goa from the Portuguese. A small contingent of its troops entered Goa, Daman, and Diu to capture and secure the territory. After a brief conflict, in which 31 Portuguese soldiers were killed, the Portuguese Navy frigate NRP Afonso de Albuquerque destroyed, and over 3,000 Portuguese captured, Portuguese General Manuel António Vassalo e Silva surrendered to Maj Gen KP Candeth (Kunhiraman Palat Kandoth) of the Indian Army, after twenty-six hours. Goa, Daman and Diu became a part of the Republic of India.

Sino-Indian War (1962)[edit]

Main article: Sino-Indian War

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 to belong to Kashmir, and by China to be 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.[33] China's suspicion of India's involvement in Tibet created more rifts between the two countries.[34]

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 three miles (5 km) 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 a road constructed by China in Aksai Chin. After a series of failed negotiations, the People's Liberation Army attacked Indian Army positions at the Thag La ridge. This move by China caught India by surprise and by 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 in both the North-West and North-Eastern parts of the border and captured vast 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 peaceful 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 diplomatic claim over. 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, its political leadership, raised several questions. The Henderson-Brooks & 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 also targeted at the incompetence of 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.[35]Neville Maxwell has written an account of the war.[36]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965[edit]

Main article: 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 a clear winner in tactical and strategic terms.[37][38][39] Pakistani President Ayub Khan launched Operation Gibraltar in August 1965, during which several Pakistani paramilitary troops infiltrated into Indian-administered Kashmir and attempt to ignite an anti-India agitation in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani leaders believed that India, which was still recovering from the disastrous Sino-Indian War, would be unable to deal with a military thrust and a Kashmiri rebellion. India reacted swiftly and launched a counter offensive on Pakistan. Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam in reply on 1 September, invading India's Chamb-Jaurian sector. In retaliation, the Indian Army launched a major offensive throughout its border with Pakistan, with Lahore as its prime target.

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 in-roads into Pakistan. India had its largest haul of Pakistani tanks when the offensive of Pakistan's 1st Armoured Division was blunted at the Battle of Asal Uttar, which took place on 10 September near Khemkaran.[41] The biggest tank battle of the war came in the form of 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.[41]

At the time of ceasefire declaration, per neutral sources, 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 battle.[42][43][44] About 200-300 Pakistani tanks were either destroyed or captured by India. India lost a total of 150-190 tanks during the conflict.[41][45] The decision to return to pre-war positions, following the Tashkent Declaration, caused an outcry among the polity[who?] in New Delhi. It was widely believed that India's decision to accept the ceasefire was due to political factors, and not military, since it was facing considerable pressure from the United States and the UN to stop hostilities.[46]

1967 Sino-Indian Conflict[edit]

Main article: Cho La incident

The 1967 Sino-Indian skirmish, also known as the Cho La incident, was a military conflict between Indian troops and members of the ChinesePeople's Liberation Army who had infiltrated on 1 October 1967 in Sikkim, 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. In the aftermath of the conflict Indian losses were 88 killed, and 163 wounded, while Chinese casualties were 300 killed and 450 wounded in Nathula, and 40 in Chola.[47] The Chinese Army left Sikkim after being defeated by Indian troops.[48][49][50]

Operation against the Naxalites during 1971[edit]

Under the supervision of 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.[51] 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 of India, that "there should be no publicity and no records" and Jacob's request to be presented with written orders was also repudiated by Sam Manekshaw.[52]

Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971[edit]

Main article: Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

See also: Battle of Longewala, Battle of Hilli, and Battle of Basantar

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.[citation needed]

On 20 November 1971, the Indian Army moved the 14 Punjab Battalion 45 Cavalry into Garibpur, a strategically important town near India's border with East Pakistan, 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 stated 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, which was the only front where the Pakistani Army was able to build up considerable resistance. The operation also included a battalion-level airborne operation on Tangail, which resulted in the capitulation of all resistance within five days.[53] India's massive early gains were attributed largely to the speed and flexibility with which Indian armoured divisions moved across East Pakistan.[54]

Pakistan launched a counter-attack against India on the western front. On 4 December 1971, the A company of the 23rd Battalion of India's Punjab Regiment detected and intercepted the movement of the 51st Infantry Brigade of the Pakistani Army near Ramgarh, Rajasthan. The battle of Longewala ensued during which the A company, though being 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 during the battle while only two Indian soldiers lost their lives. Pakistan suffered another major defeat on the western front during the battle of Basantar which was fought from 4 December to the 16th. By the end of the battle, about 66 Pakistani tanks were destroyed and 40 more were captured. In return, Pakistani forces were able to destroy only 11 Indian tanks. None of the many Pakistani offensives on the western front materialised.[55] By 16 December, Pakistan had lost sizeable territory on both the eastern and western fronts.

Under the command of Lt. General J.S. Arora, the three corps of the Indian Army, which had invaded East Pakistan, entered Dhaka and forced Pakistani forces to surrender on 16 December 1971, 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 were killed-in-action while India suffered 3,500 battle-related deaths.[43] In addition, Pakistan lost 220 tanks during the battle compared to India's 69.[56]

In 1972, the Simla Agreement was signed between the two countries and tensions simmered. However, there were occasional spurts in diplomatic tensions which culminated in increased military vigilance on both sides.

Siachen conflict (1984)[edit]

Main article: Siachen conflict

The Siachen Glacier, though a part of the Kashmir region, was not officially demarcated on maps prepared and exchanged between the two sides in 1947. As a consequence, prior to the 1980s, neither India nor Pakistan maintained any permanent military presence in the region. However, Pakistan began conducting and allowing a series of mountaineering expeditions to the glacier beginning in the 1950s. By the early 1980s, the Government of Pakistan was granting special expedition permits to mountaineers and United States Army maps deliberately showed Siachen as a part of Pakistan.[citation needed] This practice gave rise to the contemporary meaning of 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 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2) of territory 'claimed' by Pakistan was under Indian control.[57] The Indian Army continues to control all the Siachen Glacier and its tributary glaciers. Pakistan 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.[58] 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.[59] Further unsuccessful attempts to reclaim positions were launched by Pakistan in 1990, 1995, 1996 and 1999, most notably in Kargil that year.

India continues to maintain a strong military presence in the region, despite extremely inhospitable conditions. The conflict over Siachen is regularly cited as an example of mountain warfare.[60][61] The highest peak in the Siachen glacier region, Saltoro Kangri, could be viewed as strategically important for India because of its immense altitude which could enable the Indian forces to monitor some Pakistani or Chinese movements in the immediate area.[62] Maintaining control over Siachen poses several logistical challenges for the Indian Army. Several infrastructure projects were constructed in the region, including a helipad at 21,000 feet (6,400 m) above the sea level.[63] In 2004, the Indian Army was spending an estimated US$2 million a month to support its personnel stationed in the region.[64]

Counter-insurgency activities[edit]

The Indian Army has played a crucial role in the past, 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, led specifically by the Northern Command. The Indian Army also sent a contingent to Sri Lanka in 1987 as a part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force. Allied with the work of the Northern Command and its peace time activities is "North Tech Symposium", an annual event, with the aim of providing a viable platform for knowledge diffusion on relevant, contemporary military technologies available as commercial off the shelf (COTS) worldwide.[65][66][67] The Indian Army also successfully conducted Operation Golden Bird in 1995 for counter-insurgency in northeast India.[68]

Kargil war (1999)[edit]

Main article: Kargil War

In 1998, India carried out nuclear tests and a few days later, Pakistan responded with more nuclear tests giving both countries nuclear deterrence capability, although India had tested one hydrogen bomb which Pakistan lacked. Diplomatic tensions eased after the Lahore Summit was held in 1999. However, the sense of optimism was short-lived since 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 supposed to be reoccupied in spring. The regular Pakistani troops who took control of these areas received important support, both in the form of arms and supplies, from Pakistan. Some of the heights under their control, which also included the Tiger Hill, overlooked the vital Srinagar-Leh Highway (NH 1A), Batalik and Dras.

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.[69] This was a serious problem for the Indian Army as the highway was its main logistical and supply route.[70] 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.[71] 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.[72]

Though most of the posts in the vicinity of the highway were cleared by mid-June, some parts of it near Drass witnessed 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 other assaults, slowly tilted the combat in India's favour. Nevertheless, some posts put up a stiff resistance, including Tiger Hill (Point 5140) that 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 the posts that were in the line-of-sight. At many vital points, neither artillery nor air power could dislodge the outposts manned by 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 ascent that had to be made on peaks as high as 18,000 feet (5,500 m). Two months into the conflict, Indian troops had slowly retaken most of the ridges they had lost;[73][74] according to official count, an estimated 75%–80% of the intruded area, and nearly all high ground, was back under Indian control.

Following the Washington accord on 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 for all extremist groups) rejected Pakistan's plan for a climb-down, instead deciding to fight on.[75] The Indian Army launched its final attacks in the last week of July; as soon as the Drass sub-sector had been cleared of Pakistani forces, the fighting ceased on 26 July. The day has since been marked 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,[76] while more than 700 regular members of the Pakistani Army were killed.[77] The number of Islamist fighters, also known as Mujahideen, killed by Indian Armed Forces during the conflict stood at about 3,000.[citation needed]

United Nations peacekeeping missions[edit]

Main article: Indian Army United Nations peacekeeping missions

India has been the largest troop contributor to UN 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 is the third largest troop contributor [TCC] with 7,860 personnel deployed with ten UN Peacekeeping Missions of which 995 are police personnel, including the first Female Formed Police Unit under the UN.[78] The Indian Army has undertaken numerous UN peacekeeping missions.[79] As of 30 June 2014, 157 Indians have been killed during such operations.[80] The Indian army has also provided paramedical units to facilitate the withdrawal of the sick and wounded.

Indo-China Doklam Issue[edit]

Main article: 2017 China–India border standoff

Major exercises[edit]

See also: List of exercises of the Indian Army for a list of Exercises of the Indian Army.

Operation Brasstacks[edit]

Operation Brasstacks was launched by the Indian Army in November 1986 to simulate a full-scale war on its western border. The exercise was the largest ever conducted in India and comprised nine infantry, three mechanised, three armoured and one air assault division, and included 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.[81][82]

Exercise Ashwamedha[edit]

Indian Army tested its network centric warfare capabilities in the exercise Ashwamedha. The exercise was held in the Thar desert, in which over 300,000 troops participated.[83] Asymmetric warfare capability was also tested by the Indian Army during the exercise.[84]

Yudh Abhyas[edit]

Main article: India–United_States relations § Military relations

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.
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).
Indian Army personnel celebrate victory at the end Battle of Basantar on top of a knocked out Pakistani Patton tank.
A memorial at the headquarters of the Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army in remembrance of members of the regiment who died or served in the Siachen Conflict
Indian soldiers after winning a battle during the Kargil War

A commentary on Indian society and the Indian Army's Regimentation; why this support system for soldiers is still the best

The trigger for this piece is a question from a Facebook friend, to whom I am most thankful. The question alluded to reasons why Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is so rampant in the US and indeed other Armies operating in areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq and in the same light what is the experience of the Indian Army with PTSD in our operational areas. This is as good a question as any and why it never struck me to write on this earlier beats me. Perhaps I am just presumptuous and I take our Army for granted just as so many others among my countrymen do. A saving grace is that in 2011 while in command of 15 Corps in Kashmir I instituted a study to examine stress levels in my Corps which undoubtedly has the highest level of operational engagements anywhere in the Army. 7000 officers and men were given an instrument by my outstanding medical staff, whose contributions remain a little unsung in the world of machismo and a bit of 'ramboism'. The reason for this was the run of suicides we were hit with. The study did help the Army’s outstanding doctors to arrive at various reasons for suicides but that is not the subject of this essay although I do not wish to underplay the findings. The study helped me as an individual to arrive at my own reasons for the levels of stress or lack of it in operational areas all over the Army's vast deployment.

Let me describe three scenarios from my own operational experience. The first is from Op Pawan, the IPKF's long drawn deployment in India’s first out of area operation (OOAP). The second is from the LoC where I take the case of a unit deployed in a mode to ensure the sanctity of the LoC (which essentially means, no change to its current status, which in turn means that not an inch of the territory in our control should change ownership) and prevent any infiltration of terrorists from POK. And, the third is of an RR unit deployed in depth but close to a forested area with population centres nearby in Kashmir. These are classic examples of the way Infantry and some other Arms function in operational areas.

After the blood and gore of the intense phase of operations in the Jaffna Peninsula in Oct-Jan 1987 the IPKF settled to more routine counter insurgency (CI) operations. There was really nothing routine about them because the LTTE's well-trained cadres fought almost like regulars and less like militants. Units were deployed in company groups at operating bases (COBs) with an area of responsibility. The LTTE could muster as many as 100-200 men at a given point and if ambushed could actually conduct counter ambush drills to break the ambush, quite unlike militants. Their own ambushes were well sited, in large numbers and almost always accompanied by IEDs. Patrols which went out could not let down their guard even within hundred meters from the gate of their posts. Units which remained inside posts without dominating their periphery suffered because the approaches were mined by daring young tigers that crept up as close as ten meters from posts. Trees were booby trapped as were bushes. On the coastline near the town of Mullaitivu an attempt to occupy posts with 20 men or so met with response from 50 or more militants, leading to the Army suffering heavy casualties. Leave parties left and arrived once in three weeks when the road was opened and there was no certainty about reaching destinations without an engagement. As a company commander, if I went on an operation with two platoons I always remained worried about the state of security at my COB where only 20 men were left. Equally when I was at the COB I was always ready to rush for reinforcement of any other company or my own men out on operations. So what can be expected in such an environment except a severe state of tension especially since failure meant loss of quite a few lives. The Indian Army takes casualties with much concern and a high loss of lives without commensurate infliction of higher losses on the adversary is hugely frowned upon, leading to even accusations of inaction and cowardice on part of officers. An entry such as this in your CR means the end of career.

The LoC deployment is in posts and picquets and in some places can be as low as eight men. In the Uri sector is a high altitude area of height 14000 feet and more where snow levels top 35 feet and the area of approximately a company plus (functionally 120 men) is cut off for six months. Extremely difficult evacuation of sick soldiers or casualties by helicopter is possible only with severe risk. The evacuation of small posts to reach the mother post before heavy snow sets in is always fraught with danger and is a unit commander’s nightmare. That leaves routes open which terrorists could sneak through with risk only terrorists can take. Every year a few frozen bodies of dead terrorists are found. In summer, isolated posts can be attacked by Pakistan regulars mixed with terrorists (BAT teams). So can our logistics parties which carry out advance winter stocking for almost six months and move on predictable routes every day, be ambushed en route by shallow raiding Pakistan elements. By day it is essential to carry out snow clearance in winter. In summer there is the challenge of carrying water from sources which keep receding to a far distance (there is no system of bottled water in the Army). Then comes night and four to six man ambushes have to be deployed along the LoC fence from last light to well after first light. To ensure the right density a major part of the sub unit remains deployed along the LoC Fence and the remaining personnel ensure the security of the post.

A brief description of the functioning of RR units on the CT grid is outlined. Every RR unit has its peculiar area of operations. The threat is of standoff fire by terrorists or sneak attacks on posts and not large scale attacks of the LTTE kind. In today’s environment the RR unit’s source of tension is more from bandhs and stone throwing mobs which target their vehicles or patrols. Quick thinking independent decisions are required from junior leaders keeping propriety in mind and degree of response. Small vehicle convoys have been targeted by mobs leaving soldiers in quandary over the need to fire or not to save themselves and Government property. The pressure for results in urban areas and nearby forests is ever present and unit commanders drive their troops to ensure domination and control, gain intelligence and execute innovative operations while seeking contact. I would classify tension here as high but lower than the LoC where threat to life and possibility of adverse contact is far higher.

The tour of duty for Indian soldiers is usually two to three years; that of troops of western armies is six months. Despite terrain constraints the western armies depend far more on helicopter support for logistics and even for bail outs in adverse tactical situations; not so in the Indian Army except for casualty evacuation. The Indian soldier as much as the western one does not fear for his life, but prevailing uncertainty and lack of rest are two major factors for stress. Climatic conditions in high altitude areas can be a major source of tension and if soldiers fear anything it is the effects of climate. Avalanches top the list. In Sri Lanka where operational conditions were far more life threatening I used to look into the eyes of my soldiers and draw solace from that; hardly ever did I find fear writ on their faces. If there was it was due to the possibility of being isolated or detached from the subunit. The necessity of buddy contact was essential. One does not fear for life but of being detached from the subunit or being taken prisoner. What is remarkable is the complete lack of emotions to losses of even close buddies in operations. Our soldiers take the disorder of battle extremely well as well as deprivation of comforts. I always emphasized on the need for ‘sleep/rest management’ of the soldiers because that is an area which is usually neglected by the leadership. Soldiers cannot be expected to function 24x7 but the demands of their responsibility expect exactly that. On the LoC night and day is the same in terms of alert.

There are cases of suicides but hardly ever is this work related. The availability of the mobile phone acts as the biggest threat. In the tense environment of the LoC or RR related operations bad news from home can act as a trigger. In many such instances it is young soldiers unable to bear the additional tension of problems at home; problems as seemingly irrelevant as a newlywed wife unable to get along with the mother in law. Sitting far away on a remote post the immediate world around the soldier may be perceived by him to be within his control but not the world around his home where the problems affect him much more. In his post or on patrol he can still share his immediate concern about safety with his buddy or his superior but sharing home based problems is a greater challenge. Marital problems are one dimension, property problems in rural areas and absence at crucial moments when something legal is involved can be extremely stressful. While leave policy of units is always liberal and the government has sanctioned two free trips home with other trips at concessional rates it is a question of timing. Everyone cannot be away from duty at harvest time or during festivals and that is a problem which the units minimize through whatever they can do to compensate.

The experience of western armies has been the inability of returning soldiers to merge in society; that is a form of PTSD or an effect. Loss of partners while they were away, inability to concentrate on jobs, fits of anger and regret due to unpalatable actions in dealing with aliens and innocents in way off lands, etc; all add to the terrible isolation that individual citizens feel in developed societies. That is the saving grace of Indian society where despite prickly problems of farmer suicides or rural poverty there is family and societal support for those who are away serving the nation. It may all disappear in due course and the mishandling of OROP may very well contribute to the soldier’s dwindling confidence in the support system which Indian society and family system continues to provide.

More than anything else the psychological well-being of soldiers is contingent upon the efficient functioning of the Regimental system of the Indian Army. To a visiting DG of a CAPF I strongly recommended a day be spent with an RR unit. This was in response to his query as to what makes an RR unit tick and achieve so much. He was kind to take my advice, spent a day at Baramula and then rang me up to say that he had got the answer. Bonding of the cap badge and the lanyard has been taken by the Indian Army to such a high level that camaraderie is natural; a soldier’s problems, from womb to tomb (notwithstanding stray cases of neglect of widows reported once in a while) are the unit’s problems. There has been much talk of diluting the Regimental system; the British could not help it and had to compromise with theirs due to downsizing. They taught us what Regimentation means; today the Indian Army can teach them a few lessons in psychological strengthening of soldiers through the Regimental system.

It is not all rosy. Society is changing very rapidly in India. The haloed identity of the soldier is being hugely compromised by the needless rancor over OROP which the government should consider a sensible investment in the social stability of the armed forces. The unfortunate thing in India is that decision makers have very little idea about the profession of arms, perceiving it to be a contractual profession; the soldier's functioning is as yet not contractual but with the complete lack of understanding in a fast changing society all that differentiates the Indian Army from western armies may well collapse. That will be a sad day indeed and a rebirth for Indian military sociology.