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3 Infantry Division / Trishul Division

On 03 December 2003 the Delhi High Court heard the petition of Major Manish Bhatnagar, who claimed he was persecuted by the Army top brass for having reported Pakistani intrusions in the Siachen sector in January and February 1999. Maj. Bhatnagar claims that this information was suppressed by his superiors and that he was subsequently removed from service to cover up their errors. Maj. Bhatnagar had not asked the Delhi High Court for reinstatement in service, but for an inquiry against Col. Shrivastava, the 102 Brigade Commander, P.C. Katoch, and the controversial 3 Infantry Division Commander with overall responsibility for Kargil and Ladakh, Major-General V.S. Budhwar.

There are innumerable indications that the army ignored reports and obvious indicators about the imminence of the Pakistani intrusion. Official sources indicate that despite the slew of intelligence provided to 3 Infantry Division, its senior commanders failed not only to anticipate the Pakistani invasion, but also to gauge its intensity almost three weeks after it was discovered. So utterly confident were senior 3 Infantry Division commanders that Pakistan posed no danger, that they even diverted 70 Infantry Brigade stationed at Batalik to the Kashmir Valley in February 1999 to counter insurgency operations (CI Ops) - the preoccupation of the military's higher command. This left the Batalik sub-sector relatively unprotected and ultimately accounted for some of the deepest intrusions along the LoC, almost 10 km deep and nine km wide. "It was a complete lack of threatas sessment and failure of surveillance by3 Infantry Division at the higher commandlevel", said a senior officer. All intelligence, he said, was viewed piecemeal and little or no attempt was made to collate it. That would have revealed Pakistan's bigger game plan of occupying the ridges in order to interdict Highway 1A by directing artillery fire onto it.

The patrols sent out confirmed the presence of intruders on May 7. The Indian Army's response was very rapid and by May 9, two well acclimatised battalions returning from Siachen had been concentrated in the Batalik sector to contain the intrusion. In the next few days, three more battalions were moved from the Valley into the Kargil sector to counter known and possible intrusions in other sub-sectors. By May 24, two additional Brigades had moved into the area and the Indian Air Force was committed on May 26. By the end of May an additional divisional headquarters had been inducted to take over command of a portion of the Kargil Sector from 3 Infantry Division.

One year passed since the Kargil conflict shook the entire nation and once again brought under spotlight the hunger of Pakistan for Kashmir. On the first anniversary of operation Vijay, a grateful nation saluted all those soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty while evicting the Pakistani intruders from Dras and Batalik areas. The 3 Infantry Division, which initially had to deal with all the intrusion along the Line of Control (LoC) from Mashkoh, Dras, Batalik to Turtuk, indeed had a huge task but executed it professionally. "You have achieved a miracle" said Gen VP Malik, the then Chief of Army Staff while he was addressing the victorious troops of 70 Infantry Brigade at a forward location. None other than the General could have spoken these words as no one was better informed than him of the harsh terrain and numerous odds which were overcome by courage, grit, determination and sacrifice to throw out the enemy from the our side of the border.

The Pakistanis occupied tactically important heights ranging from 5000 to 5600 metres in the Batalik - Yaldor sector. The remoteness of the area with a minimum walking time of two to three days from the nearest road from the ill - equipped sleepy villages of Dah, Garkhun, Hanuthang and Batalik was another arduous task for the soldiers. There was no time to develop roads with the threat of our lines of communication getting severed looming large. It was time for retaliation by unconventional tactics as the time and resources for implementing the copy book method was just not available.

The enemy was equipped with superior weapons, imported equipment, lethal artillery pieces and other high trajectory weapons to cause attrition to our forces. However, the limited range of small arms and weapons was made up to a large extent by our superior artillery, especially Bofors.

Troops of 70 Infantry Brigade carefully studied the enemy pattern of operation and devised ingenious plans to exploit their strategies. In a tactical manoeuvre enemy was encircled, their lines of communication cut off and maintenance of troops in highly hostile terrain was made unviable. Under heavy enemy fire and interference from dominating ridge lines, our troops forced a corridor and infiltrated behind enemy position along a nallah and operated in this manner for nearly two months. Maintaining troops on an animal track with limited number of porters and ponies under heavy enemy fire and two to three days distance from the loading points was a nightmare.

Weakened by the fortitude, grit and raw courage displayed by the Indian soldier the Pakistanis were forced to 'rout' and run back to their position in the rear with their routes of maintenance having been cut off by brave and brilliant attacks. The Indian troops chased the Pakistanis across the LoC inflicting heavy casualties to the enemy. Inspite of the LoC area being heavily mined, our troops attacked and captured vital heights driving the enemy across.

Operations in the Batalik sector are classic examples of unconventional warfare in high altitude areas, the likes of which have never been conducted earlier in the annals of Indian military history. It was here that the maximum quantity of arms and ammunition was recovered and over 300 enemy personnel killed. Six prisoners of war were captured alive providing the much needed proof of Pakistani involvement. The brigade achieved this near impossible task of evicting Pakistani troops from the dominating heights of Batalik-Yaldor-Chorbatla by July 9 last. Demoralised and defeated the enemy hastily accepted India's supremacy and withdrew from other sectors also.

3 Infantry Division observed 26 Jul 2001 as Smriti Day to pay tribute to the war heroes and martyrs of 1962, 1971, Op Megdoot and Op Vijay, who laid their lives in honour of the country. Maj Gen S Thaplial, General Officer Commanding 3 Infantry Division laid a wreath at the 'Hall of Fame' to commemorate the Smriti Day. Latter he inaugurated an exhibition at Stakna which included own Infantry and Artillery weapons. The Exhibition was witnessed and appreciated by local population included civilian dignitaries.

As a part of operation Sadbhavana in 2003, Trishul Division has been taking many steps to provide assistance to those living in the remote areas of Ladakh region. The aim is to improve the socio-economic conditions and make the residents feel proud of being Indian. The Division focussed on primary and adult education, women empowerment, medical care, community development, computer literacy and technical education. Trishul Division has established Army Goodwill Schools and Adult Literacy Centres. The Division has been providing mid-day meals and transport to students. Fee concession and uniforms are also provided to children from poor families. Scholarships are awarded to bright students.

The first general court martial (GCM) of an Indian Army major general, charged with sexual misconduct with a subordinate woman officer, was held in Bathinda (Punjab). Maj. Gen. A K Lal has been charged with misbehaving with Captain Neha Rawat. A court of inquiry had found enough evidence to try him. Captain Neha Rawat of the Corps of Signals had filed a complaint last year alleging that Lal, the then general officer Commanding (GOC) of the Leh-based 3 Infantry Division, had misbehaved with her during a meditation session. Even though earlier there have been cases of outraging the modesty of a woman in the Indian Army, this was the first time a senior officer had been tried for the charge. On 14 September 2008 a military court found Maj. Gen. A K Lal guilty of sexual misconduct and awarded him a sentence of dismissal from service.

3 Indian Division in World War II

During the 6 months between December, 1941 and May, 1942 the enemy had overrun the, Philippines, much of Oceania, all of the Netherlands East Indies, all of the Malay Peninsula, and almost all of Burma. In the Pacific Ocean his advance threatened communications between the United States and Australasia. On the Asiatic mainland his occupation of Burma menaced India, provided a bulwark against counterattack from the west, cut the last land route for supply of China, and added Burma's raw materials to the resources of an empire already rich.

America, keen to help China to remain in the World War II, had established a supply route along the Burma Road from Lashio to Kunming. This was cut when the Japanese captured Burma. The two Chinese Divisions, which had fought alongside the 17 Indian Division, also retreated to Ramgargh to re-equip. General Joe Stilwell used these Chinese Divisions, Merill's Marauders of the US Army and Corp of Engineer troops under General Pick, to build the Ledo Road.

Named after mythical beasts guarding Buddhist temples, the Chindits began in 1942 as the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, and in 1943 were formed of the Indian 3rd Infantry Division. The 70th Indian Infantry Division, a regular line unit, was broken up into three separate Chindit brigades-the 16th, 14th, and 23d, much to the distress of the old Indian Army bureaucracy. Each of the British Chindit brigades deployed in Burma suffered casualties of from 50 to 95 percent of its original force. In one case, the 111th Infantry Brigade stumbled out of its last engagement with only 118 men of its original 3,000 fit for further service. Their operations form classic examples of light infantry tactics in close jungle terrain, deep in the enemy's rear.

Due to the numerous rivers, the Chindits made hundreds of river crossings, emerging from the water invariably speckled with leeches. During monsoon season, the area became almost impassable. Low ground became inundated and mountain sides so muddy and greasy that men had to crawl up over steps that were laboriously hacked out. The high humidity, constant rain, and high temperatures fostered heat prostration. Moreover, the mosquitos and mites infesting the area carried the germs of malaria and scrub typhus. Operating in this terrain required the highest levels of physical endurance and mental toughness, and every day spent on the march was torture.

The Chindits were not elites; they were perfectly ordinary soldiers from perfectly ordinary battalions assigned to Wingate to be prepared for extraordinary tasks. Only 5 percent of this Special Force were volunteers. Wingate, himself the most unorthodox of British officers, did not believe that a special kind of soldier was required for long-range penetration. Wingate believed that adept jungle fighters could be developed out of any unit through good leadership and training.

By February 1943, secondary Allied operations had been planned to support the main drive into north Burma. General Wingate's jungle columns of the 3 Indian Division were ready to thrust into central Burma, with the aim of cutting enemy communications far south of General Stilwell's objectives. On the Irrawaddy headwaters in northeast Burma the Allies had a base at Fort Hertz, in wild country which the Japanese had never been able to conquer. Here, Gurkha and Kachin levies from the native tribes were harassing Japanese outposts in the Sumprabum-Myitkyina corridor.

The advance by General Stilwell's force was helped by the operations of the Chindits Special Force (3 Indian Division) in north Burma. They cut the lines of communications of Japan's 18 Division which was opposing him. The Chindits and, later, 36 Division both were on air-supply and were supported by No 1 Air Commando of the USAF, a unique force of 292 bombers, fighters, transport planes and 100 helicopters. By the time the Chindits reached Mogaung the tough Gorkhas were the only ones fit to fight. When the Japanese held up the advance at Mogaung railway junction, it was Tul Bhadur Pun of the 3/6th Gorkhas who broke their defence and lived to wear the Victoria Cross.

The decisive campaign of the long land war against the Japanese in Burma in World War II was the Battle of Imphal-Kohima. For 100 days, from March through June 1944, the troops of the Fourteenth Army under Lieutenant General William Slim met their bitter Japanese enemies in a convulsive struggle for control of the eastern gates to India. Ultimately, this British multirace army defeated the Japanese attack and began the slow task of clearing the invaders from northern and southern Burma.

While this great battle was being contested, another war, smaller in scale but no less fierce, was being fought 200 miles in the Japanese rear. Here, over 20,000 specially trained jungle soldiers attempted to weaken the Japanese Army by delivering a knockout blow to its unprotected "guts." Three thousand of these troops were American volunteers, officially known as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) and popularly known as "Merrill's Marauders" (although they referred to themselves as "Galahad"). The other larger part of this extraordinary collection of fighting men was the Chindits, also known as the Special Force.

Essentially, Galahad and the Chindits were light infantry jungle troops organized and trained for guerrilla-style interdiction against Japanese lines of communication. During the campaign in Burma, circumstance and misuse forced these units into the conventional roles of positional defense and direct assaults against strong enemy fortifications. Galahad and the Chindits also operated at the operational level of war in that their deployment into Burma and their tactical objectives contributed directly to the attainment of strategic goals. In fact, the Chindit War, as it is called by British military historian Brigadier Shelford Bidwell, is one of the best examples in recent history of light infantry forces employed at the operational level of war. They maintained themselves for over six months in the middle of Jap held territory (the first three and a half months of which were spent in permanent, well-defined but isolated positions under almost constant attack) and suffered very heavy casualties.

Others would suggest that the negligible military value of the Chindits was admitted even by the British. Many Americans had reason to be critical of the leadership, morale, fighting abilities and aimless wanderings of the Chindits, but those who knew them well admitted their gallantry. The Chindit operation might rightfully take its place beside the Charge of the Light Brigade, Corrunna, Gallipoli, Dunquerque and Arnheim as one of those typically British, stupid, and magnificent failures.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:41:16 ZULU