South Asia and Beyond

Operation Pawan: India’s ‘Vietnam Moment’

NEW DELHI: It’s often described as an intervention India could have done without. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to send in Indian troops (Indian Peace Keeping Force) to Sri Lanka in 1987 after he signed an accord with then Sri Lankan President JR Jayewardene led to over 1200 soldiers laying down their lives fighting the Tamil Tigers in their own backyard. The operation that was launched for political expediency lacked clear-cut objectives from the very beginning. Add to that shifting goals, poor planning, and intelligence failures. Despite the setbacks the Indian troops faced fighting an enemy that had the home advantage, there were flashes of valour and sacrifice. The troops were de-inducted 30-odd months after the operation began in what still serves as a lesson for India when it comes to military deployment abroad. In this episode of ‘Simply Nitin’, StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief, Nitin A. Gokhale takes us through one of the less-talked-about episodes in India’s military history.

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  • Sir.. Why the headind contains ‘Vietnam Moment’s, There was no mention of Vietnam and if there is some corelation with Vietnam War then please let us know.

  • Operation Pawan, Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operations are to be looked at as India’s first overseas muscle flexing in pursuit of its perceived geo strategic interests. Even three decades later there are certain aspects of the operations which are not open to the public domain. The strategic plans being executed were well on way to achieve success but were halted midway by the new political dispensation which had come to power in Delhi. IPKF was recalled as a political decision and not due to battlefield defeat. It is to be looked at more as a loss resulting from diplomatic and political naivete due to lack of institutionalized geo strategic policy planning and political consensus.

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