Monday, February 29, 2016



                                         ONE OF FOUR PARTS



                                                     Pravin Sawhney

15 Feb 2016


A generation of officers has grown and won awards, laurels and promotions doing counter-insurgency operations. With all present generals having donned the uniform after the last full-scale war of 1971, war-preparedness has become an elusive concept.

The Army is not war ready

Speaking recently at the Counter-Terrorism Conference in Jaipur, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, alluding to Pakistan, said, “Some countries have used non-state actors (terrorists) for 15 years to achieve political and strategic objectives, with counter-productive results.” The truth is, far from being counter-productive, the Pakistan army has achieved substantive results against India through this strategy.

On the one hand, it has increased India's policing commitments on the land and coastal borders. The 1999 Kargil conflict forced the Indian Army to deploy a division (12,000 troops) round the year at 15,000 to 18,000 feet to ensure no reccurrence of mischief. After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the Indian Navy, made responsible for coastal security, has been flogging its expensive warships, at the cost of war preparedness. On the other hand, Pakistan's strategy has, to its own amazement, rendered the Indian Army unfit for conventional war. After Operation Parakram (the 10-month military stand-off from December 2001 to October 2002), where India failed to militarily coerce Pakistan, the Indian Army was expected to learn the right lessons. Since no insurgency which enjoys an inviolate sanctuary has ever been defeated, it was, since 1990, argued that the Indian Army should build capability to hit terrorists' bases in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir rather than fight the elusive terrorists on its soil. 

Instead, it did the opposite. Once the November 26, 2003, ceasefire, at Pakistan's initiative, was accepted, the artillery guns on both sides fell silent. With long-range firepower to hit Pakistani bunkers no longer an option, raids by Special Forces to thwart the proxy war was the natural choice to keep the Pakistan army on tenterhooks. Calling it a war-avoidance measure, this option was closed by the Army Chief, Gen. NC Vij by fencing the Line of Control in July, 2004.

The argument that the fence is cost-effective and prevents infiltration continues to be made by senior officers who are unwilling to concede its biggest drawback: It has instilled the Maginot mentality, (a line of defensive fortifications built before World War II to protect the eastern border of France but easily outflanked by German invaders.). 

Any worthwhile military commander the world over will attest that a fortification induces a false sense of security and stifles the offensive spirit and action. Today, the fence denotes the Indian Army's physical, mental and psychological limit of war-fighting. It gives respite to the Pakistan army and encourages it to continue with the proxy war, without fearing Indian retaliation. The initiative has passed completely into the hands of the terrorists and their Pakistani handlers. The latter dictate the rates of engagement, infiltration, areas to be activated and to what purpose, including methods of initiation. This is the reason that even with the strength of over 12 lakh, the Indian Army fails to deter the six lakh Pakistani army from cross-border terrorism. The Pakistan army refuses to hand over Hafiz Saeed, Dawood Ibrahim, Masood Azhar and others to us. Each time our political and military leaders warn Pakistan, it challenges us to a war.

The Indian Army Chief, Gen. VK Singh wrote a letter (leaked to the media) to the Prime Minister in March, 2012, saying the Army was unfit for war. Media reports routinely decry the unpreparedness of the Army. What little the Army has as war reserves, for example, equipment, vehicles, spares and ammunition, is merrily being using to raise more units — two divisions (each with 12,000 troops) between 2009 and 2011, and a Mountain Corps (90,000 troops). Since 2012, the Army's annual defence spending ratio of capital (for acquisitions) and revenue (pay and allowances) has been 40:60, instead of the other way round. This means more manpower costs and less war preparedness.

Unfortunately, the present state suits both the political and the Army leadership; the former does not want to understand military power and is petrified by nuclear weapons, the latter is comfortable with counter-insurgency operations (CI ops). The Army has honed its skills in it for 25 years. About 40 per cent of the Army is in the Jammu and Kashmir theatre doing CI ops, while an equal number prepares itself to replace those. A generation of officers has grown and won awards, laurels, promotions and status doing CI ops. With all present generals having donned uniform after the last full-scale war of 1971, war-preparedness has become an elusive concept. 

The irony is that the people of India do not know what the Army is supposed to do. The nation regularly pays homage to soldiers who die fighting terrorists inside the Indian territory rather than fighting Pakistani soldiers on the border. Few bother to think that if the Army does CI ops (which should be the paramilitary's job), who would do its job of fighting the war? Should the nation be spending huge amount of money building a military force when what the Army wishes to be is to become a glorified paramilitary force?

The idea of a fence on the LoC came from the BSF, which had erected one on the India-Pakistan border from Gujarat to Rajasthan and another on the India-Bangladesh border. But the Army was never receptive to the idea of erecting a fence as it was found effective only against illegal immigrants and was considered a police tactic. The Army chief, General S. Padmanabhan (General Vij's predecessor) told me: “When Vij asked my opinion on the fence, I told him that this idea had been there since 1993. The reason why it had not been implemented so far was that it was unsuited for the terrain along the LoC. Moreover, a fence would instil a defensive mindset in our troops.” What should the Army do? The Army Chief, Gen. Bikram Singh invited me to his office in January, 2013, and asked my opinion. I suggested four-pronged action: The fence on the LoC should be dismantled; troops should be reoriented to the conventional war role from the present anti-infiltration role; CI ops should be handed over to the paramilitary and the police in Jammu and Kashmir in a phased manner; and the Army should go back to its core competency — preparing to fight a war.

These are the actions that the Army would take during war; taking them in peacetime would help deter Pakistan from continuous trouble across the LoC. Adopting an offensive-defence posture does not imply war; it means peace and stability on the LoC as it would spur the Army to equip and train itself for war. These actions will also help the Army to reduce its strength by nearly 2,00,000 troops in five years; a must for a professional Army desiring to prepare itself for present-day warfare. 

The Modi Government, which projects itself as more muscular than the previous regimes, has not helped matters. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on  July 22, 2014, the then Defence Minister, Arun Jaitley praised the Army for CI ops by concluding that, “innovative troops deployment, efficient use of surveillance and monitoring devices and fencing along the LoC have enhanced (the Army's) ability to detect and intercept infiltration.” Encouraged, the Army decided to upgrade the fence. The northern Army Commander, Lt Gen. D.S. Hooda told the media in August, 2015 that, “The new fence will be twice as effective as the existing one. It will be hard to breach.” The Pakistan army will continue to allow the Indian side to repair the fence damaged by vagaries of nature each year, without resorting to small-arms firings. 

The writer is Editor, FORCE, a newsmagazine on security & defence.



                                                  TWO OF FOUR PARTS


                         THE ARMY

                Lt-Gen RS Sujlana    (retd)

Feb 19, 2016

Today’s military leadership is better trained with vast professional experience comprising counter-insurgency operations and high-altitude warfare. The Army has trained with world armies and UN peace-keeping missions. So to say the Army cannot conceive a conventional war is a figment of the imagination

The Army is more than war ready

Soldiers of the Indian Army fire a Bofors gun during Exercise Sarvatra Prahar at Army’s School of Artillery in Devlali, Maharashtra. AFP

On February 15, in these pages, Pravin Sawhney had argued (‘The Army is not war ready’) that the Indian Army was distracted from its ideal readiness for war. Lt-Gen(retd) RS Sujlana gives a contrary view.

A vast array of factors combine to ensure that an army is ready for war, but the tenacity of men and women who make up the force, their wherewithal and the will of the nation to war are the three main factors. Mr Sawhney has agreed that as the Army has not fought a conventional war after 1971 and has been involved in counter-insurgency operations (CI ops) for nearly a quarter century, the senior leadership of the Army cannot conceive the concept of  conventional war. 

In addition, having erected a fence along the Line of Control (LC) to limit infiltration, the Army has developed an inbuilt Maginot Line, or defensive mentality which today denotes the physical, mental and psychological limit of war-fighting! He questions whether the Army wishes to be a glorified Para-Military Force (PMF). If this was not enough the article goes on to state, “that the people of India do not know what the Army is supposed to do”. When the word Army is used it is a direct reflection on the officers, JCOs and other ranks of the entire force. Thus, a brief examination of how the Army (and its’ men) have stood and will stand for the nation and the issues raised to assess how wrong the starting premise is follows. 

The post-Independence military history bears testimony to the multi-tasking capability and true grit of the Army in handling crisis after crisis. Four months into freedom and the Army had a war at hand, the Indo-Pak War, 1947-48. The Army at that time was still reorganising itself, experience and numbers of military leaders were at a premium, but still the Army went forth to drive out the Pak intruders with tremendous credit. However, contrary to advice, the political leadership hurried into a ceasefire under the aegis of the UN, eluding a total victory. The political leadership still did not feel the necessity of strengthening the armed forces (opining that the nation could well do with just a police force). A laissez-faire attitude continued and as it cuddled up to China, no effort was made to rejuvenate the armed forces. This flawed policy saw the heart-breaking outcome of the 1962 War with China. The Army was ordered to throw out the Chinese. With what? No one could answer. Even the Air Force was kept out of action. But still, the Army fought resiliently and valiantly with archaic weapons, limited ammunition sans winter clothing to name a few; the war was lost but the enemy could not break the spirit of the Army. After this debacle, the Army started to expand in 1963. The Army's tryst with counter-insurgency operations had already begun in Nagaland. In the midst of this expansion and training of new units, the Army (and the Air Force) fought the Indo-Pak War of 1965, defeating a Pakistan Army equipped with latest weapons (like the famous Patton tanks and Sabre Jets) and drove them to dust. However, the political leadership was again found wanting and all captured areas were returned to Pak without weighing their strategic significance. Something similar seems to be brewing up now with calls of pulling back from an expensive battleground — the Siachen Glacier. Guess, some people will never understand strategic concerns. In the ensuing six years, the Army's involvement in CI in the North-East had increased manifold but come the 1971 War, the Army amazed the world with their blitzkrieg historic victory. The political leadership again failed to garner any leverage; over 90,000 Pak prisoners were returned without resolving any issue; rather the enemy played truant and retained 54 of our prisoners who never returned home. Today, they are totally forgotten by the nation. In construing the traits of the present lot of senior officers, it hints that they lack the offensive spirit. Far from the truth as this obviously implies that the resilience, offensive spirit, camaraderie and the will to fight and win is not required in battling at the highest battlefield in the world at Siachen (since 1984) and CI ops, as this is where the Army has fought continuously post- the 1971 War. How very wrong can they be, inherent in such ops are not only these traits but much more. If this was not so, Col Gurung, Commanding Officer, 19 Madras, with the unstinted support of his seniors, would not have personally directed the super-human effort to pull out his 10 men from below tonnes of snow at the staggering height of 20,000 feet. This included one still alive, the now-legendary Hanumanthappa. Does anything more need to be said about the required traits which made this happen and the officer-man relationship in the Army? Forgotten, perhaps, is also the victory in the 1998 Kargil War, where it was all blood, guts and offensive actions. Ironically, here too, the soldiers carried the day and fought with “whatever they had” in the words of General Ved Malik, the then Army Chief. Are the LC Fence and the Maginot line the same? Definitely no, their aims are/were poles apart. Let not the LC Fence be confused to be a part of the conventional defensive concept. Moreover, wherever there is an obstacle (like a minefield or wire obstacle) offensive plans exist to strike the enemy. So has this created a defensive mindset? The answer is again, “no.” Needless to say, the cost-effectiveness of the fence is indeed debatable.  

Yes, without doubt there are large deficiencies in arms and equipment and these continue to grow by the day. These telling deficiencies are likely to continue in the near future, with the defence budget at an abysmal 1.74 of the GDP, almost at the same level as it was prior to the 1962 conflict.  The political leadership has to come out of the proverbial ostrich syndrome and show predilection for the armed forces and provide them not only the required wherewithal, but ensure their rightful status, dignity, pay and allowances. The Army can well do without being involved in CI ops, but to say that the Army is only training for CI ops is remissness. Regular and appropriate time is being spent on conventional roles, rather even in Jammu and Kashmir, the troops deployed along the LC on defensive positions remain acquainted with their conventional role which does have its' fair share of offensive action plans. With regard to offensive actions like hitting terrorist camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, it is for the government to decide and direct the Army to implement. Will the Government's real politik allow this? It is not for the Army to decide. 

Criticism is important but when someone decides to outrightly condemn the Army or any other organisation, there is a need to balance out views. At the risk of being branded intolerant, some censorship is warranted. The Army is physically, mentally and psychologically prepared to fulfil its roles and offensive soldiering is their forte'! Let there be no doubt about their fighting competence. 

The writer is a former Commandant, the IMA and former Chairman of the PPSC.



                                   THREE OF FOUR PARTS




   Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd.)

In the ongoing debate on reorienting the army, the time for implementing many ideas such as downsizing and changing the defensive mindset could be premature or due to a skewed understanding of the operational environment

  Fence or no fence, the army’s vigil doesn’t slacken

It is wrong to assume the army’s offensive spirit has been eroded by the LoC fence or cessation of strillery duels. PTI

It is absolutely correct that Pakistan has achieved a fair degree of its intent through sponsoring a proxy war on our soil and India has been unable to take the response to Pakistan’s soil. Yet the Indian Army alone is not the only instrument of response. Also decisions are not taken by the Army but advice is definitely given. It is for those who receive the advice to choose the instrument of coercion. The Army is the lead agency and remains fully prepared to do what it has to, in any part of the spectrum of war.

The Indian Army has been drawn into a long counter insurgency (CI) campaign in J&K through an adroit Pakistan game plan conceived 30 years ago. This happened just as the world entered into a phase which has been characterized by Hybrid War, with Conventional War taking a backseat. With nuclear parity, India conventional asymmetry with Pakistan has received a setback. Since then, India focused more on economic growth and opportunities from the prolonged restructuring of the global economy. Its emphasis on war avoidance led to a strategy (or by default) of following strategic tolerance. By contrast, Pakistan’s compulsions of attempting to maintain a bogey of deterrence and risking sponsored proxy war, has prevented it from achieving its socio-economic goals. In the long run it is still advantage India although no one can discount the attraction of Pakistan’s geostrategic location which makes it a frontline state for western support.

Indian generals may not be experienced in conventional operations but not many around the world are. Anyway, experience at sub tactical level in conventional operations does not qualify for competence at operational and strategic levels. The maxim, command experience in any theatre and form is good enough for assuming higher command responsibility continues to hold good.

There have been an almost obsessive chain of arguments against the LoC Fence, branding it as the chief cause of a defensive mindset. The ceasefire from 2003 actually worked to our advantage. The then army chief Gen Nirmal Vij had the clarity of thinking to begin construction well before the Pakistani ceasefire offer. The ceasefire only facilitated the construction at alignments close to the LoC. 

Till its completion, the ‘mathematics of terror’ was always in favor of Pakistan’s Deep State. Thousands of terrorists were killed only to see a larger number infiltrate, almost at will. The CI grid could just not handle it; high attrition was not high enough. The operationalisation of the Fence led to redeployment of resources. By 2007 there was higher attrition, the drying up of leadership and curbs on across-the-border flow of IED material, ammunition and grenades. Incidentally the last major successful IED blast took place eight years ago.

The ceasefire helped in focusing on counter infiltration without any loss of aggressiveness. It is a misnomer to think that the offensive spirit is promoted by daily trans-LoC artillery duels. Removing the Fence will increase infiltration and that will require more troops. The Fence in no way curbs initiative because the Army gives it no tactical significance except for countering infiltration, a realm which, if not exploited, would amount to tactical sacrilege.  It does not even metaphorically infuse a fortress mentality, let alone literal one, because enough troops are deployed ahead of it.

As to the notion that the Indian Army’s 1.2 million troops are unable to deter Pakistan with half that combat power, it is never the numbers which dictate this. It is the capability and attitude of those who control the strings of decision making. Stating that 40 per cent of the army serves in CI operations in Northern Command gives credence to the Pakistani lie. If that had been so, the field to peace deployment ratio would be completely skewed; mercifully it has never come to that.

The Army has competent leaders preparing for conventional war fighting. There are enough contingency plans for the Rashtriya Rifles and operationalisation of offensive options; the Army needs no advice on that. About India’s military professionals being incompetent because they donned the uniform after 1971, perhaps the opinion of some foreign institutions and armies should be taken. 

The Army is not in CI operations of its own volition. Get a competent replacement and it will withdraw. But, the Army’s hard won results cannot be frittered with experiments. The blood and flesh expended to regain the loss will again be that of the Army.  Lt Gen DS Hooda’s decision to selectively upgrade the LoC Fence will further strengthen the CI grid and enhance the chances of zero infiltration. With no ingress from PoK and the absence of a leadership, the kinetic part of the militancy would almost be over.

Principally no one can argue against the need to right size. However, collusive threats from Pakistan and China have not waned. The decision to raise two new divisions was taken after assessing and anticipating threats as also the existing voids in the order of battle. A full scale Army level war game preceded the final decision. The raising of the Mountain Strike Corps was also triggered by the prevailing environment on the Sino India front. There are still enough arguments for and against it.

Lastly, the 1.7 percent allocation to the Defence budget which is slated to further reduce is a measure of the capability that we wish to develop as a nation. Given better procedures for acquisition and manufacture of select hardware within India, armed with a better equipment profile and administrated by a more competent and empathetic bureaucracy the Indian Army is quite capable of looking after both, the CI front and the conventional one without impinging on capability for either.

The writer, a former GoC of 15 Corps, is with Vivekananda Foundation and the Delhi Policy Group



                                                 FOUR OF FOUR PARTS



                    ROUTES OF INFILTRATIONS:

350-km LoC in Kashmir valley has 40-50 infiltration routes

Feb 27, 2016.                      

Sneak Street

  • Kalighati, Kail, Keran, Machil, Kundiya,Tanghdar, Darnak Karna, Jabli Bala,Tootmar Gali, Noori Post,Gail Gali, Eagle Post, Gujar Dori, Balthadaya forest, Kunji Nad and Dacha forest in Kupwara

  • Jabra, Kamalkote-Madiyan, Dulanja, Lachipora, Torna, Churanda, Hatlanga, Sahura, Gohalan, Zamboor Pattan and Nowgam in Baramulla

350-km LoC in Kashmir valley has 40-50 infiltration routes

Army men take position during an encounter with militants near the LoC in Kupwara district. Tribune file Photo

Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service
Srinagar, February 26

The nearly 350-km-long Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir has many “porous infiltration avenues” which are close to launch pads across the fence, claimed defence sources.

There are of 40-50 routes where from militants find it easy to sneak into the Valley, sources said.

Even if the LoC is buried deep under snow the infiltration never seizes. The militants killed in the recent gunfights at Chowkibal in Kupwara district and Pampore in Pulwama district had “infiltrated recently”.

The Army, however, has maintained that infiltration from across the LoC into Kashmir was down to a “trickle” as compared to infiltration figures of earlier years.

Defence sources said that infiltration avenues are correlated with launching pads, general areas and the reception area.

“The group of trained militants is put at a launch pad in PoK where they are provided weapons. They along with a guide do probing actions for five to six days along the LoC before sneaking into the Valley,” said a Defence official. “And when Pakistani Army fires at our posts, the waiting militants get an opportunity to sneak in as our observation gets affected.”

The official said infiltration routes keep on changing from time to time and over the years some routes have become active while others have turned dormant.

Of late, major infiltration attempts are being made in the frontier Kupwara sector and it is turning out to be a key area for militants to sneak into the Valley.

The infiltration along the LoC in Baramulla and Bandipora districts has dipped even though militants have not stopped infiltrating through these sectors.

Sources said there were 16-17 launching pads across the LoC in the Kashmir region.

The LoC in Kashmir runs from lofty peaks of Gulmarg in Baramulla to Kupwara and Gurez in Bandipora district.

Along its long and arduous course the LoC also passes through several fresh water streams. It is fenced with barbed wire and sophisticated equipment like UAVs, high-power cameras, thermal imagers and long-range observation system to notice any movement.

Two divisions of Army —one based in Baramulla and another in Kupwara man the stretch. The easiest and shortest infiltration route to the Valley is through the Keran sector.

The sector, sources said, has three infiltration avenues. Though there is heavy presence of Army in the area to counter any infiltration attempts, militants often try to enter into Kashmir through this sector.

After Keran, the other favourite infiltration route in Kupwara is Machil. Almost all the infiltrators coming into the Valley through the Kupwara sector have to cross the vast Shamsabari forest range to reach the hinterland.

The Tangdhar sector in frontier Kupwara district had been laid inactive for a long time, but since last six years the route has got activated again.

The toughest infiltration route, however, is through the Gurez sector of Bandipora district.

Militants sneak through Kanzalwan and Nowshewra ridges before entering Bandipora. The Gurez sector is surrounded by 14,000-feet high mountain range.

In the Uri sector of Baramulla, traditional infiltration routes emanate from high mountain passes. The sector is dormant now unlike past when it was the favourite route for militants. Same is the case with Gulmarg, which has not seen much activity in the recent past.

“The routes can get active any time as launch pads are there to push militants,” said another Defence official.



Friday, February 26, 2016

INDIAN MILITARY HISTORY :: SIKHS - 'Rattray's Sikhs' the 45th Sikhs


            'Rattray's Sikhs' the 45th Sikhs

                    [ NOW  3 SIKH ? ]

 Date: 1897.

Photographed by F.W.Bremner of Quetta; Provenance: Private Collection / Peter Newark Historical Pictures.





IESM has decided to fight UNDER  mentioned cases in the court as a welfare measure for its members, all expenses will be met by the IESM.
1. Non payment of arrears to JCO, NCOs and ORs from 1 Jan 2006
2. Non payment of pension to Hony ranks equal to regular rank.
3. Broad banding of disability pension

 All members who wish to join up in the cases are requested to give their vakalatnama at JM to Sub Maj Verma and Hony Lt K Pandey between 1400h to 1600h every day. IESM had checked with the
lawyer and requested him to file a case for all concerned but he has confirmed that these days Govt is accepting and paying only to litigants. In such a situation it is important that all members are requested to give their Vakalatnama at Jantar Mantar.

These are entirely different cases than OROP which will be taken up only after first payment of OROP is given to all ESM. At present IESM does not need any vakalatnama for OROP case.

One vakalatnama is required for each case you wish to be enrolled. Please sign the vakalatnama as client and leave all other columns blank. Also

Thursday, February 25, 2016

OROP KRANTI: Give Soldiers Their Due


                Give Soldiers Their Due

    The armed forces should have a separate pay commission.


                                                   Manvendra Singh

The writer is a BJP MLA and editor of 'Defence and Security Alert'.

A civilian can never know what it is to sit in ambush, day and night, in snowy Kupwara
February 22, 2016

A civilian can never know what it is to sit in ambush, day and night, in snowy Kupwara. “Pray with us.” With these evocative words, the army had signed off its penultimate statement about the condition of Lance Naik Hanamanthappa fighting his last battle in the care of Army Hospital (Research and Referral, AHRR). By his miraculous journey from the Sonam post to the AHRR, Hanamanthappa brought Siachen into every Indian home for the first time.

 “The Commission is of the view that the combination of risk/ hardship in Siachen area is the maximum that any government employee faces… no government employee faces more risk/ hardship in his work than our defence officers and jawans posted in Siachen Glacier.” This was spelled out in the proposals of the Seventh Pay Commission recently. Despite such clear language about allowances, misgivings remain in the armed forces. The airwaves emanating from soldier chatrooms are anything but sanguine about the validity of their hardships. If anything, there’s a resentment that threatens to get deeper. All of it boils down to a simple, peculiarly Indian, scheme of things, wherein status comes from pay. 

          The Warrant of Precedence (WoP) was adopted by the Indian republic when the structure of independent governance came into place. This remained more or less intact until the 1970s, when the pay commission tinkered with military pay and pensions. It’s ironic that this began so soon after the armed forces had won India its greatest victory in war. The coincidence hasn’t gone unnoticed in the military community. And since it wasn’t checked then, the tinkering with pay continued, giving a toss to the WoP.

Pay scales, grade pays, allowances, and financial perks for Central government employees are formulated by the pay commission. The defence ministry is possibly the largest employer in the country after the railways. So it’s a mystery that no pay commission has ever had a military member advising, or dissenting, as has been the case with civil service members. The mystery gets further compounded by the fact that civilians get to expound on the vagaries of military service — and determine the pay scale.

A civilian can never know what it is to sit in ambush, day and night, in snowy Kupwara or the steamy Northeast. No civilian will grasp what life had been like at the Sonam post for more than three decades before it was finally covered by an avalanche. None can know the stresses when the aircraft is pulling several times gravity, or compare with the military doctor treating multiple gunshot wounded all at the same time in a makeshift field hospital without committed electricity. There are many such examples of military life that a civilian can never get a feel of — for, these experiences are the sole prerogative of the men and women in uniform. So, the least the country can do for them to lead honourable lives is not play with their pay and precedence.

 A larger than life winner of the Victoria Cross was Captain Umrao Singh. He was invited by the British government to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Legend goes that as he walked his way to the ceremonies, a car stopped, out jumped Michael Heseltine, then UK defence secretary. He saluted the old soldier and said it would be his honour to escort him to the parade. All this only because of the ribbon of valour pinned to Captain Singh’s chest. That ribbon was senior in precedence and protocol than what Heseltine had as a cabinet minister.

 In caste-ridden India, such displays of etiquette would be a tall task. But the least India can do for its soldiers is not to let them feel unworthy. Military people are the only Indians who have voluntarily forfeited some fundamental rights, to speech and association. Because they can’t protest or be heard, they’re taken for granted. This is very unhealthy, and could cost us dearly. It’s time the political authorities fulfilled their duties towards the soldiery and ensured they got what’s owed to them.

 For starters, let the latest pay commission report be the last as far as the armed forces are concerned — at least in terms of being clubbed with all other Central government employees. There should be a separate pay commission for the armed forces composed of those who have seen the lead fly. This is the least to ask of India, but not too much to ask for soldiers.

 The writer is editor of ‘Defence & Security Alert’ and a BJP MLA.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

WW-I ::The Art of World War One in 52 Paintings


The Art of World War One in 52 Paintings
Since the First World War was fought at a time of major changes in artistic movements, the period is particularly rich with a variety of art styles. The development of photography in the late 19th Century had pushed painting particularly away from realism, into a broad group called expressionism. The movement sought to present the world subjectively, radically distorting it for emotional effect – famous artists such as Edvard Munch, Paul Klee and Wassilly Kandinsky were all expressionists.

The effect of the movement meeting the cataclysm of the war saw expressionist painting directly related to the fighting appear across Europe. In Britain, some of the more prominent works related to the war abandoned realistic styles and combined with the trend of Italian Futurism and Cubism to create Vorticism. Industrial warfare, shattered landscapes and the horrors of the battlefield suited modernist styles, and art often escaped earlier realism.

Realism and the First World War

While realism was abandoned by some artists – particularly after the horrors at the Battle of The Somme – it did endure the course of the war. A notable war artist of the period prior to the war was Richard Caton Woodville, who had regular commissions for the Illustrated London News. His works on British conflicts in Afghanistan and The Boer War evoked a sense of drama, thrill and patriotic exultation which continued to be used in World War One by British artists.

Charge of the Light Bridge (Left, 1894) & Maiwand: Saving the Guns (Right, 1884) by Richard Caton Woodville

Richard Caton Woodville
This romantic vision of war had dominated the British interpretation of Imperial conflict. Scenes involving cavalry were regularly painted, but by 1916 this subject matter was almost entirely obsolete.

Canadians at Ypres by William Barnes-Wollen (1915)

Here the realistic, illustrative style remains – although the war’s destructiveness is still being realised.

Second Lieutenant W. H. G. Jessup, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, on the Western Front (Left) and Winning the Military Cross during the Battle of the Somme (Right) by Stanley Llewelyn Wood (Both 1916)


Futurism and Vorticism

Futurism emphasised and glorified themes associated with the future – such as speed, technology and violence. Emanating from Italy, the movement influenced a number of British artists – particularly CRW Nevinson and the Vorticists.

Charge Of The Lancers by Umberto Boccioni (1915)

‘If futurism embraced the present, it also rejected the past.’ Umberto Boccioni was one of those who iconoclastically attacked the remote, 19th century Mediterranean art tradition by vividly realizing the shrill, dynamic realities of the present conflict.

Study for Returning To The Trenches by CRW Nevinson (1914)

Nevinson said of this piece ‘I have tried to express the emotion produced by the apparent ugliness and dullness of modern warfare. Our Futurist technique is the only possible medium to express the crudeness, violence and brutality of the emotions seen and felt on the present battlefields of Europe.’

Study for Sappers at Work by David Bomberg (1919)

Bomberg’s piece commemorates an incident when a company of Canadian sappers laid mines under German trenches. It was criticised as a ‘Futurist abortion’ on its creation when Bomberg had in fact mellowed his radical abstract instincts to cultivate a more representative style.

Battery Shelled by Percy Wyndham Lewis (1919)

Wyndham Lewis conveys the effects of counter-battery artillery fire. The painting is suffused with Lewis’ trademark Vorticist style, and the contrast between the detached soldiers in the foreground and the animated gunners in the rear has attracted critical interest.

La Mitrailleuse by CRW Nevinson (1915)

Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson was one of the First World War’s most illustrious artists. He was an avant-garde painter whose associations with Filippo Marinetti’s Futurist group were apparent in his vivid depictions of the war at home and abroad. Artist Walter Sickert described this painting as ‘the most authoritative and concentrated utterance on war in the history of painting.’


Domestic upheaval provided a rich variety of material for artists. The Government bodies responsible for commissioning art, such as the Ministry of Information, also recognized the need to record the war’s impact at home as well as abroad. Well-documented social trends, such as the increased involvement of women in heavy industry, are recorded alongside lesser known effects of the war.

Assembling Parts by CRW Nevinson (1917)


A Canadian War Factory by Percy Wyndham Lewis

A pioneer of the Vorticism movement, Percy Wyndham Lewis served with the Royal Artillery until 1917 and then as an Official War Artist until the end of the war. His angular, semi-abstract style drew from Cubism and Futurism, and lent itself particularly to striking depictions of machinery in action.

Acetylene Welding by CRW Nevinson (1917)


Swan Upping at Cookham by Stanley Spencer (1915-19)

‘Swan Upping’  is an annual event on the Thames when the swans are marked. Spencer thought the scene melded the everyday with the divine. The completion of this particular work was delayed by Spencer’s involvement in the war.

Making the Engine by CRW Nevinson (1917)


The Frontline

In the early years of the war painters were on the whole willing to participate with sincerity in the enthusiastic culture of war by producing patriotic works. Over time, as the reality of modern, industrialized warfare became apparent,  artists attempted to capture the reality of what they were seeing. The heroic realism of earlier works was abandoned, and artists attempted to convey a reality that is beyond the scope of most people’s experience by turning to surreal styles.

A Star Shell (Left, 1916) and Bursting Shell (Right, 1915) CRW Nevinson

Shell Paintings - CRW Nevinson

Harvest Of Battle by Christopher Nevinson (1918)

Possibly the most captivating feature of World War One was the devastation wrought by new weaponry. Nevinson described the scene on which this painting was based: ‘A typical scene after an offensive at dawn. Walking wounded, prisoners and stretcher bearers are making their way to the rear through the water-logged country of Flanders.’ The painting was commissioned by the Ministry of Information for the hall of Remembrance. Notably soldiers of opposing forces are shown struggling through the devastation together.

La Guerre By Marcel Gromaire (1925)

Gromaire’s most famous piece shows five soldiers – three awaiting the assault and two scanning No Man’s land. It was painted seven years after the war ended, and in its rigid style emphasises the mechanization and dehumanization of the war.

Cavalry and Tanks at Arras by Lieutenant Alfred Bastien (1918)

In July and August 1918 Lieutenant Bastin was attached as an artist to the Canadian 22nd Battalion.

Reliefs at Dawn by CRW Nevinson (1917)


Making Soldiers in the Trenches by Eric Kennington (1917)


Eric Kennington was invalided out of the Army in 1915 but stayed on as a war artist, tracing the evolution of the war toward hopeless stalemate.

Over The Top by John Nash (1918)

Nash’s most famous painting which shows the 1st Battalion Artists’ Rifles’ counterattack at Welsh Ride on 30 December 1917. 67 out of 80 men were killed or wounded almost immediately.

Evening, After A Push by Colin Gill (1919)


Tanks by William Orpen (1917)


A Mark V Tank Going Into Action by William Bernard Adenney (1918)


The Front Line At Night by JA Churchman


The Ypres Salient at Night by Paul Nash (1918)


This canvas was intended by Nash to capture to disorientating effect that the light emitted by the perpetual explosions of shells and flares had when trying to navigate the trench network.

The Injured and Dead

Gassed by John Singer Sargent (1919)

This painting depicts the aftermath of a mustard gas attack witnessed by the artist. Two groups of eleven soldiers are approaching a dressing station against the backdrop of a setting sun.

Gassed and Wounded by Eric Kennington (1918)

Kennington made several sketches and drawings at a Casualty Clearing Station at Tincourt-Boucly during the pre-Spring Offensive bombardment by German forces. Those drawings provided the basis for this painting.

Travoys Arriving with Wounded at a Dressing-Station at Smol, Macedonia by Stanley Spencer (1919)

Spencer was commissioned to create this painting in April 1918 by the British War Memorials Committee. In his owns words Spencer wanted to show ‘God in the bare real things, in a limber wagon, in ravines, in fouling mule lines.’ Of those he depicts he said ‘during these nights the wounded passed through the dressing stations in a never ending stream.’

The Queen’s Hospital For Facial injuries by Lobley J Hodgson (1918)


Paths of Glory by CRW Nevinson (1917)


Resurrection of the Soldiers by Stanley Spencer (1929)

Ressurection of the soldiers
The painting re-imagines the battleground of the Karasulu-Kalinova sector of the Macedonia front in 1917 and 1918 through a re-working of medieval and Renaissance versions of The Last Judgment. Its intended functions are mixed given the variety of  events within this one scene.

German Perspective

The trends described thus far applied also to German artists. They too were confronted with an unanticipated and shocking type of war which they sought to represent is a variety of ways.

Self-Portrait as a soldier by Otto Dix


Wilhelm Otto Dix was renowned for his brutal and harshly realistic style. His work embodies a transition in the style of First World War Art that mirrored the erosion of hope and the triumph of stagnant, bleak, bloody warfare.

Stormtroopers Advancing Under Gas by Otto Dix (1924)

This is the most reproduced print from Der Krieg, Dix’s uncompromisingly harsh fifty plate series on the horrors of trench warfare. Notice that soldier on the far left is snared in barbed wire.

Den Namenlosen by Albin Egger-Lienz (1925)


Machine Gunners Advancing by Otto Dix (Left) and Corpse In Barbed Wire (Right) by Otto Dix (1924)

Another plate from the Der Krieg series that doesn’t hold back when it comes to capturing the dark, morbid reality of trench warfare.

The Shattered Landscape

Given many of the war’s most prominent artists were landscape artist (like Paul Nash) perhaps most iconic work depicted its desolate aftermath. The topographical scars of war were profound and many artists claimed it was those which best encapsulated an unprecedented tragedy.

Ypres Salient at Dawn by Edward Handley-Read (1915)


Oppy Wood by John Nash (1917)

With his brother Paul, John Nash served as an infantryman in the Artist’s Rifles. He was not formally trained as an artist and only became a war artist in 1918. He became known for his carefully-detailed illustrations of trench life.

House of Ypres by AY Jackson (1917)


Zonnebeke by William Orpen (1918)


Night Bombardment by Paul Nash (1918-1919)

This work is reminiscent of early Nevinson work, with its emphasis on combing figurative elements -tree trunks, barbed wire – with geometrical elements, both curved and angular.

The Road From Arras to Bapaume by CRW Nevinson (1917)

The long road from Arras to Bapaume undulates into the distance. This stark, empty scene of desolation shows the real impact of modern warfare.

Wire by Paul Nash (1918)


The Conquerors by Eric Kennington (1920)


Void of War by Paul Nash (1918)


Warrington Road by Richard Tennant Cooper (1917)


We Are Making a New World by Paul Nash (1918)

One of the most memorable images of the war, the title ‘We Are Making A New World’ mocks the ambitions of the war’s early leaders. It expresses the idea that a new world has been created through this distorted landscape. It has been claimed that the undulations in the earth represent gravestones to a recently departed world.


It was not only the battlefields of France and Belgium that were ravaged by the war. German artists operating in the new Weimar Republic painted scenes of destitute ex-soldiers interacting with a strange modern society.

The War Cripples by Otto Dix (1920)


Tempo Of The Street by George Grosz (1918)

In post war Germany, George Grosz was keen to express the vitality within cities, often mixed with disturbing and grotesque elements.

The Night by Max Beckman (1918-19)


The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 28th June 1919 by Sir William Orpen (1919)

The Treaty of Versailles was the agreed peace and its settlement was the end of the war. But etched in the faces of those throughout the hall of mirrors is the uncertain peace that the treaty would bring.
Many of these works are available to view at Truth and Memory British Art of the First World War at the Imperial War Museum London.

Alex Browne studied History at Kings College London and is an Assistant Editor at Made From History. He specializes in post-war history in the USA and Central America.