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Kargil Proved Armed Forces Will Never Let Nation Down, Says Maj Gen Mohanty

As we celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of India’s victory over an untrustworthy and reckless Pakistan in the summer of 1999; in the aptly named Operation Vijay, we must pause to pay our tribute to the officers and men of the armed forces for their unparalleled courage and incredible heroism displayed under the most unforgiving conditions of terrain, equipment constraints and information void.

This also includes many unknown soldiers who may not have figured in the list of gallantry awardees but have meaningfully contributed to the overall success.

For these gallant souls, nothing, absolutely nothing mattered more than the restoration of the territorial integrity and honour of mother India even if it meant sacrificing their lives most willingly.

Maj (later Maj Gen) SC Mohanty considers himself fortunate to have been posted as the Brigade Major (now upgraded to Brigade General Staff Officer 1) of 56 Mountain Brigade during the operations and located at Dras.

As a Brigade Major he was responsible for conceptualising, planning, coordinating and execution of all operations under the guidance of the Commander.

He was also responsible for intelligence acquisition and developing operational synergy with other supporting agencies. He remembers several instances of heroism that saved the day for India and ensured victory.

For instance, to augment the firepower of forward troops, had mustered missile and air defence attachments from all over the country.

While briefing them about the impending task, Mohanty apologetically told them that they didn’t have the luxury of an ideal acclimatisation period necessitated to operate in such altitudes.

The men from diverse units and varying social, cultural and regional backgrounds, almost in unison retorted back, “Sir, we have not come for acclimatisation. Just send us to the forward-most tier and we are determined to give the enemy a bloody nose”.

Their sense of commitment, eagerness to defy human endurance and glint in their eyes mesmerised him and nearly brought tears to his eyes.

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Our advanced dressing station (a field hospital in the forward area) at Dras was overflowing with battle casualties till they were evacuated for specialised treatment in the rear areas.

A large number of them while enduring serious splinter and bullet wounds were keen to hurry back to be with their units in this hour of ultimate honour every soldier aspires to be part of. Yes! There was fear of being left out of battle (FOMO in contemporary parlance).

Manifestation of this spirit is evidenced in the letters written by officers and men to their families before launching assaults (some never to return), currently displayed in the Hut of Remembrance at Kargil War Memorial at Dras.

It is an unwavering commitment to the nation that the armed forces will never let the country down even if it meant making the ultimate sacrifice is what Maj Gen Mohanty’s ultimate takeaway from the Kargil war

Watch previous episodes from the ‘Kargil: 25 Years On’ series here:

Part I: How Batalik Was Won

Part II: The Tololing, Tiger Hill Turning Points