Since Independence, India has witnessed many fruitful wars and military operations. Looking at India’s security situation it is apparent that India has been probably the only nation in the world whose had to face two formidable enemies on two different borders and numerous internal situations such as terrorism and naxalism.
Glory during wars has fallen in the lap of our armed forces many a times due to its sheer courage and sacrifice. However, there have been certain military exercises that have projected India’s strength to its enemies in measure enough to strike worry in their hearts. Here I talk of two major exercises conducted over a period of one year that left both the neighbours genuinely concerned at India’s might.
China has conveniently forgotten about the skirmish in 1967 and Operation Falcon conducted by India in 1986. A conflict -like situation had developed in the Sumdorong Chu region, north of Tawang, which had led to India launching Operation Falcon.
India had been sending Intelligence Bureau teams to Sumdorong Chu which lies a few kilometres east of the site of the first clash of 1962. They did so in the 1980s as well but in 1986 they found the Chinese there in force. India protested their presence but the Chinese insisted that the area was north of the ‘McMahon Line’.
Indian defences had to be increased in the region, and so, the Indian Army devised Operation Falcon which would allow them to quickly mobilise on the border.
As there was no road beyond Tawang, India decided to use the IAF’s Russian-made heavy-lift AN-26 helicopters to land a brigade at a place called Zemithang, south of the Sino-Indian border. Indian forces took up positions overlooking Sumdorong Chu along with three other key mountain features. Unlike 1962, this time the Indians held higher ground. China rushed to mobilise forces along the border. But India had a few surprises in store.
Using the Il-76 aircrafts and the AN-26 helicopters, the Army placed T-72 tanks and infantry combat vehicles in the Demchok area of Ladakh and northern Sikkim. The Chinese had no credible response to this. After a 15 November flag meeting things calmed down as the Chinese saw it prudent not to aggravate the situation.
This operation was a massive military exercise conducted in Rajasthan between 1986 and 1987.This was the largest mobilisation of troops by the Army. The objectives were: 1) Deployment of ground troops and, 2) Execution of a series of amphibious assault exercises near a Pakistani naval base.
The operation involved infantry, mechanised and air assault divisions, and 6,00,000 army personnel, all amassed within 100 miles of Pakistan. An amphibious assault group formed from the Indian naval forces was deployed near the Korangi Creek of the Karachi Division of Pakistan.
The website globalsecurity.org characterised the operation as ‘bigger than any NATO exercise’ and the ‘biggest since World War II’. The Government of Pakistan viewed this exercise as a direct threat to its physical existence. They were utterly unnerved with this humongous exercise and regarded it as a major escalation.
In this manner, India had managed to surprise and unnerve both Pakistan and China in the span of one year.