November 24, 2002
Need for Air Force and Army to work together
Air Land Battle—the
by Lt Col Thakur Kuldip S. Ludra (retd). Published privately. Pages
131. Rs 650.
since India attained freedom, it has fought nearly five wars.
However, there has been lack of cooperation between the Army and the
Air Force during such wars. The Air Force was conspicuous by its
absence in support to troops on the frontline. The Battle of
Longewal proves the contention.
The Air Force accepts
the importance of the air-delivered firepower in the land battle,
but the Army must know that air support is not the only role of the
Air Force. These were the expert comments made by Major-General
Rajendra Nath and Air Marshal M. M. Singh in the un-commissioned
report submitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee under
The other two umpires
to this report are Air Marshal R. S. Bedi and Lt-Gen K. S. Khajuria.
The latter has even questioned the author’s erudition on the
subject. The report deals with various patterns of operations, both
offensive and defensive, and the need for air support to ground
"Preamble," the author stresses on the Air Force
resistance to any attempt by the Indian Army for close integration
of air support with ground operations. For instance, citing 1965 and
71 wars, the Indian offensive had to retreat from the Ichogil canal
and the Shakargarh area because the Air Force was bidding for air
supremacy elsewhere and fighting its own war. In Kargil, too, the
Air Force never integrated into ground battle.
Earlier, frustrated by
the Air Force’s lack of support in the land battles, the Army even
considered strengthening its Aviation Corps when it projected a case
for Mi-35 gunships to be made part of the Army’s inventory.
According to the
author, there are inherent shortcomings in the Air Force command and
organisation structure when it is integrated with the Army in terms
of preparing action plan, training, target acquisition, guidance
system and inadequate munitions and weapon systems.