IAF Image Credit: Geopolitics
IAF Image Credit: Geopolitics

Combat Over Kargil - How The IAF Emerged On Top

The defining takeaway from Kargil is that it was innovation on the fly and superior tactics that helped the IAF dominate the skies over Kargil. Had the service been pressed into battle early, the war would have finished a lot sooner, and hundreds of Indian casualties could have been avoided, reminds Rakesh Krishnan Simha.

Rakesh Krishnan Simha

In February 1999, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Badr, with soldiers from its Special Service Group, Northern Light Infantry and Sind Regiment along with heavily-armed Afghan mercenaries occupying the posts in Kashmir vacated by the Indian Army at the end of summer. Numbering well over 4,000, these infiltrators established 196 posts at elevations of over 16,000 ft and up to 14 km deep into Indian Kashmir.

The Pakistanis established fortified dugouts overlooking the Srinagar-Leh National Highway – the main supply route for Indian troops deployed in Ladakh and further north in the strategic Siachen Glacier.

What was Islamabad hoping to achieve? Contrary to general opinion, Kashmir was not even on the agenda, reveals Air Commodore M Kaiser Tufail. The retired Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officer, who was closely involved in Operation Badr, writes in ‘Role of the Pakistan Air Force During the Kargil Conflict’ that the primary goal of Pakistan Army Chief Pervez Musharraf was to capture Siachen.

The plan was that by shutting down the Srinagar-Leh Highway, the Pakistanis would cut off supplies to the sizeable Indian Army detachment in Siachen. Artillery fire would choke off the Indians for a month, after which the monsoons would prevent vehicular movement due to landslides. One of the co-conspirators, Lt Gen Mehmud Ahmad, had boasted: “Come October, we shall walk into Siachen – to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians left

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