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Pakistan Army Order of Battle - Corps Sectors

The geographical areas of responsibility of the Corps commands is not well attested in public record. Of course, the Northern Area Command is responsible for the Federally Administered Northern Areas. It appears that XI Corps is responsible for the North West Frontier Province , to include the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, while the XII Corps is responsible for Balochistan. V Corps in Karachi is responsible for the southern part of Sindh province, while XXXI Corps includes the northern part of the province.

The remainder of the Pakistan Army is in Punjab, stationed across from Indian forces in Punjab and Kashmir. Punjab is a vulnerable province, as it shares a 550 km border with Pakistan. Punjab is strategically very important for Pakistan, so the formation of its army is extremely strong in this area. The XXXI Corps is the defensive formation assigned to take the brunt of an Indian armored assault. The II Corps in Multan is assigned to follow up the XXXI Corps holding action and counterattack against invading Indian forces.

The tank battles fought in the area between Charwa and Chawinda from 8th to 21 September 1965 were the most decisive battles of the 1965 War. The main Indian attack against Pakistan was launched by the Ist Indian Corps opposite Chawinda in Sialkot Sector. The Sialkot Sector was defended by the Pakistani 1 Corps comprising 15 Division and 6 Armoured Division. [SOURCE]

In the West during the 1971 War, the Indian Army had very limited offensive aims and was relegated more to a holding role. The Indians penetrated at least 15 miles into West Pakistan in the direction of Karachi. The initiative lay with Pakistan. In this theater, Pakistan had near parity with India in armor and artillery while India had more infantry divisions. There was fighting on the Punjab plain, but the results were inconclusive. Pakistan's most successful thrust was in Chhamb sector north of Jammu, where there was good tank country. Here, the 23rd Pakistani Division completely overwhelmed the forward defensive positions of the Indian 10 Division. Acting in accordance with its strategy to grab as much territory in the West as possible, Pakistan also launched a major attack on Punch in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. This attack, unlike the one on Chhamb, was completely repulsed. Smaller attacks were launched by Pakistan in Punjab at Fazilka and Hussainiwala. The forward Indian defences were breached but the Pakistan Army could not sustain its attacks.

During the 1971 War the Rajasthan sector was thinly held by both India and Pakistan for the simple reason that the Thar desert is not conducive to vehicular movement. Unlike in North Africa, where the desert surface is relatively hard and the coastal areas allow for easy movement of traffic, the loose shifting sands of the Thar cannot be crossed by wheeled vehicles and even tracked vehicles are liable to get bogged down. The region also has very few dirt tracks and even fewer paved roads. The Indian brigade operating in Umerkot-Nagarparkar area captured many thousand square miles but all these consisted of empty desert.

An ambitious Pakistani armored thrust in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan was stopped in the famous Battle of Longewala. The battle is part of the curriculum taught to senior Indian officers in the higher command course at the Army War College and has been immortalised by the Bollywood super-hit "Border". Longewala is part of army folklore. This is a fairy tale of 100 odd soldiers and their steely resolve, which forced an entire Pakistani brigade, backed by an armored regiment of 45 tanks, to retreat in the 1971 war. Pakistan's Chinese Type 59 and US-made Sherman tanks were slow on the sandy Thar Desert, and some analysts suggest that the attack may have been an overly ambitious move on the terrain. Some Pakistan tanks had suffered engine failures due to the harsh conditions and were abandoned. Pakistan's vehicles, tanks and guns got bogged in sand, and armor was deployed without air defense protection. Longewala provided a classic example of the importance of air defense, with Indian forces destroying 51 tanks, at least 18 and possibly as many as 37 of them with the use of aircraft.

Since no ground offensive is possible in the Thar Desert without heavy air cover, India's air deployment in 2002 suggested that the focus of their strike corps could well be in the south (Western and Southern Commands).


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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:02:22 ZULU