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1965 war restored Indian soldiers' self-confidence: Army chief

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New Delhi, Sep 1: Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh today said the 1965 war with Pakistan restored the "self-confidence" of the soldiers and laid the framework for India's spectacular win in the 1971 war which liberated Bangladesh.

A new book titled '1965, Turning the Tide: How India Won the War', written by defence analyst Nitin Gokhale and commissioned by the Army's official think-tank Centre for Land Warfare Studies, has backed Singh's claim.

Army chief remembers 1965 war soldiers

"The fruits of 1965 were to become spectacularly apparent six years later when the Indian military won its most famous and decisive victory in the 1971 war. Had it not been for the experience gained in the 1965 war, the Indian military would still have been prisoner to a defeatist mentality imposed by the reverse against the Chinese. That was the biggest gain from the 1965 war," says the book, which was released today by Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Addressing a tri-service seminar to commemorate the 1965 war with Pakistan, Gen Singh said many unique lessons remain relevant even after five decades. He said that by 1965, Pakistan had gained technological edge over India.

"However, war underscored that superior technology or weapons and equipment are no substitute to valour and bravery of our soldiers and bold leadership, human resilience and fortitude," he added.

The Army chief further said that the 1965 war "settled many negative myths" and restored self-confidence. "The 1965 war gave the ground framework for spectacular victory of 1972, six years later," he said.

The book, in its final analysis, says the 1965 war proved that the debacle in the 1962 war had less to do with the Indian Army as compared to the failure on "politico- diplomatic" front. It claimed that the biggest failure, however, was on the "intelligence front".

"Despite the ongoing tension in Kashmir and the Kutch episode, Indian intelligence failed to anticipate the massive infiltration planned by Pakistan under Operation Gibraltar," it claimed.

The book further says that another failure, and one that was perhaps of a larger strategic import, was India's "lack of ability" to assess the limits of ammunition available with Pakistan.

Despite knowing that the Americans — who were the principal weapon-supplier to Pakistan at that time — always gave less than a month's ammunition to its clients, India lacked intelligence on the shortage of ammunition in the Pakistani arsenal, it said.

"As it turned out, by 22 September — when ceasefire was declared — Pakistan had practically run out of its stock of ammunition, without any replenishment in sight since the Americans had already imposed an arms embargo.

"Had the war continued for some more time, Pakistan would have collapsed and, who knows, the subcontinental history would have taken a different turn," the book said.


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