4 - Military operations in the Kargil conflict  pp. 92-129

Military operations in the Kargil conflict

By John H. Gill

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Military operations around Kargil in the summer of 1999 fall in a gray zone between low-intensity conflict and full-scale war. On the one hand, the scale, intensity, and significance of the fighting exceeded even the upwardly distorted standards of the India–Pakistan Kashmir confrontation, where extended artillery duels and ten-person-a-day body counts often have been the peacetime norm. On the other hand, both sides intentionally confined the combat to a restricted segment of the volatile Kashmir Line of Control (LoC); the proportion of forces engaged was relatively small; the duration was limited; and, captivating television news coverage notwithstanding, the conflict did not require either country to commit extraordinary resources beyond those immediately available to their standing militaries. A senior Indian general who referred to it as a “near war” probably had as good a description as any. In the confined area of operations, however, the fighting was disproportionately intense. Regardless of the way in which we categorize the Kargil conflict, a comprehensive view of its complex interplay of military and political factors is thus fundamental to understanding how it developed and concluded. A review of the activities by all three military services on both sides not only provides critical insights into the tactical and operational evolution of the war, but also illuminates the crucial interaction between national policy and military operations.