Kargil 1999 - South Asia's First Post-Nuclear Conflict

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Sanjay Badri-Maharaj; Illustrators: Anderson Subtil; Luca Canossa; Jerry Bocquelet; Tom Cooper
Other Publication Information
Soft Bound; 8.25” x 11.75”, 72 pages
Product / Stock #
Asia@War #14
Company: Helion & Company - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate UK - Website: Visit Site
Product Picture

Sanjay Badri-Maharaj, from Trinidad, received his MA and PhD from the Department of War Studies, Kings College London. His thesis was on India’s Nuclear Weapons Program. He has written and published extensively, including two books – The Armageddon Factor: Nuclear Weapons in the India-Pakistan Context (2000) and Indian Nuclear Strategy: Confronting the Potential Nuclear Threat from both Pakistan and China (2018). He has served as a consultant to the Ministry of National Security in Trinidad and was a visiting International Fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. This is his first instalment for Helion.

Helion’s latest book in the Asia@War series is a square back soft cover includes 88 gloss paper pages. The front cover features a color (or possilby colorized) photograph of a 155mm FH77 Bofors howitzer in firing position along with stocks of 155mm shells overlaid over a color map of the Battle of Kargil theatre of operations (Page 40 viii). The color side profile by Tom Cooper is of an IAF Mirage 2000TH armed with a single Paveway II and a pair of Matra R550 Magic Mk.IIs. The rear cover features a color side profiles by Tom Cooper of an IAF Mil Mi-17 of the 129th Helicopter Unit, the ‘Nubra Warriors’. I counted three color pictures and 68 black and white photographs. There also nine aviation color side profiles by Tom Cooper; seven armor color side profiles by Jerry Bocquelet; four uniformed figure illustrations by Anderson Subtil. There are eight black and white maps, one full color map, and 26 tables.

The 1999 Kargil conflict in Kashmir was the first battle that the citizens of India lived through the eyes of the Indian media. Journalists and photographers brought home the battle with violently graphic stories and images. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj brings this conflict to the western world with the first recounting of Kargil in the English language. Sanjay kicks off this tome with an introduction to the history and politics that led to this war. Notably, this was the first, and only instance to date, where both parties were nuclear states. India and Pakistan had both deployed nuclear weapons, possibly by the late 1980s. The division of British India into two independent states in 1947 resulted in the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, dividing the territories into non-Muslim and Muslim faiths. This partition itself was controversial, and the tension and open conflict have not disappeared.

Sanjay Badri-Maharaj covers the organizational structure of both India and Pakistan and provides Orders of Battle for both. A good discussion of India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear delivery capabilities follows. Politically, there was a last stab at peace, but militarily, the dice had already been cast. Interestingly, Pakistan surprised the Indian Intelligence operations with a tactical and operation plan that Pakistan utilized to invade Indian territory without any reaction from India. India did recover and pushed the Pakistanis back across the border, but it came at the cost of thousands of casualties. Fortunately, nuclear weapons were not used in this conflict, but the fact that both sides had deployed nuclear weapons to the battlefield shows how close it really came. India and Pakistan never acquitted anywhere near their complete forces to this conflict. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj does cover the air components of both sides, but this battle was really an infantry battle assisted by artillery. The sections include:

  • Abbreviations
    • Introduction
    • Political Background
    • A Rivalry Based on Partition
    • The 1948 Kashmir War
    • 1971 India-Pakistan War
    • The 1972-1999 Period
    • Political Situation in 1999
    • Loss of Time
    • Sharif Administration in Pakistan
    • 21 February 1999: Lahore Declaration
    • Contents of the Lahore Declaration
    • The War at the Top of the World and the War that Never Was
  • Indian and Pakistan Armies of 1999
    • Organizational Structure
    • Table 1: Typical Battalion Structure of the Indian Army
    • Table 2: Typical Brigade Structure of the Indian Army
    • Table 3: Typical Division Structure of the India
    • Table 4: Nominal Structure of the Indian Army
    • Table 5: Indian Army ORBAT
    • Table 6: Typical Strike Corps Structure of the Indian Army
    • Indian Combined Arms: Armour
    • Artillery
    • Infantry [Page 18]
    • Table 7: RAPID Structure of the Indian Army
    • Special Forces
    • Para Special Forces Battalions
    • Table 8: 50th Parachute Brigade, 1999
    • Table 9: Para SF Battalions of the Indian Army, 1999
    • Air Defense
    • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Warfare
    • Unmanned Air Vehicles and the Army Aviation Corps
    • The Pakistani Order of Battle
    • Table 10: Pakistan Army ORBAT, 1999
    • Status of Pakistani Combined Arms
    • Armour
    • Artillery
    • Table 11: Composition of the 9 Crops HQ & Force Command Northern Area, Pakistan Army
    • Table 12: Nominal Composition of the Army Reserve North & South, Pakistan Army
    • Infantry
    • Air Defense
  • Rival Air Forces
    • Table 13: Primary Fighter-Bombers of the IAF, 1999
    • Indian Strike Assets
    • Strengths and Weaknesses of the IAF’s Strike Force
    • Table 14: Primary Fighter-Bomber Bombers of the PAF, 1999
    • Pakistan’s Strike Assets
    • Weaknesses of Pakistan’s Strike Force
    • Strategic Air Defense Assets
    • Strategic Air Defenses in India
    • Indian Air Defenses: Sensor Network
    • Manned Interceptors
    • Table 15: IAF Order of Battle, 1998-1999
    • Table 16: PAF Order of Battle, 1998
    • Strategic Air Defenses in Pakistan
  • Nuclear Factor
    • India
    • Table 19: India, Consumption of Weapons Grade Plutonium
    • Table 20: Pakistani Nuclear Capability in 1999
    • Pakistan
    • New Missiles Add to the Delivery Options
    • Table 22: Pakistan’s Ballistic Missiles, 1999
    • Pakistan’s Nuclear Delivery Capability
    • Available Warheads
    • Nuclear Weapons During the Kargil War
  • War Plans
    • Possible Theatres of Operations
    • India’s Thinking Prior to Kargil: Conceptualizing a War Scenario
    • Pakistan’s Pre-Kargil Military Thinking
    • Pakistan’s War Plan: Kargil
    • Pakistani Planning and Execution
    • Defending Pakistani Positions
    • The Detection
  • Color Profiles [Page 40 v]
  • Intelligence Failure
  • Orders of Battle in Kargil
    • Indian Army Order of Battle [Page 46]
    • Table 23: Indian Army ORBAT, Kargil, 1999
    • Indian Air Force Order of Battle
    • Table 24: Indian Air Force ORBAT, Kargil, 1999
    • Pakistani Army Order of Battle
    • Table 25: Pakistan Army ORBAT, Kargil, 1999
    • Pakistan Air Force Order of Battle
  • Operation Vijay
    • Forces in Kargil
    • Understanding the Kargil War
    • Discovering the Infiltration
    • Scale of the Infiltration
    • The Build Up
    • Retaking Tololing – A Turning Point
    • Initial Assaults
    • Appalling Conditions
    • Rushed Assaults with Tragic Consequences
    • Building Up – Artillery Inducted
    • Tololing Ridge
    • The Final Assault
    • Recapturing Point 5203
    • Batalik Sector
    • Point 4875
    • Capture of Point 5140
    • Taking Three Pimples and Point 4700
    • Retaking Tiger Hill: The Beginning of the End
    • Pakistani Withdrawal and Clearing Operations
    • Zulu Spur
    • Losses – A Bloody Balance Sheet
    • Gunner’s War [Page 67]
  • Operation Safed-Sagar – The IAF’s Campaign
    • First Blood
    • Environment and Air Power
    • Operations Commence
    • First Losses [Page 72]
    • Enter Mirage 2000
    • Lack of Laser-Guided Bombs
    • Mirage 2000 in Action
    • Strike Missions and Innovation
    • Effectiveness
    • Table 26: Combat and Support Sorties Flown, IAF, Kargil War
  • Diplomatic Endgame
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Notes

I really liked Sanjay Badri-Maharaj analysis of India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear development and capabilities. Pakistan had been supplied United States F-16s that had been “promised” to have been not-nuclear capable. Of course, if President Clinton had denied the F-16 sale to Pakistan, France was all too willing (And did) to sell Mirage III and V nuclear capable aircraft. India had several options for aircraft delivery in the Jaguar, MiG-23, and MiG-27; but it was the Mirage 2000 that India focused on for this role. Both India and Pakistan also had nuclear missile delivery systems that easily could have played a role as well.

Sanjay Badri-Maharaj leads the reader through an interesting journey in this battle between India and Pakistan. Although the actual conflict did not last long, there are some very interesting first person reports included. I really appreciated that Sanjay Badri-Maharaj introduces the background of both the military and the political policies that were involved. The contemporary photographs support the text, and they certainly give you a good perspective of the events described. Check out the picture on Page 72 that show the crew messages chalked on to the bombs for their enemy. If you own one the previous releases in the Asia@War series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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