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Lessons from India’s Last War: Kargil and Beyond


The 26th of July is celebrated each year as the Kargil Vijay Diwas- the victory of Indian forces at Kargil in 1999. With an estimated 527 soldiers killed and more than a thousand injured, Kargil left us with several pointers, covering all aspects of warfare. These pointers have given an insight into the warfare of the 21st century which will bring about different methods of the past and combine them with the technological revolution of this century. Some methods like artillery when combined with superior technology and intelligence of the 21st century bring about a deadly combination. Adding to this, nuclear power backed by an economic powerhouse fetches The Third World War to our doorstep. The Kargil War of 1999 was a tectonic shift in Indian preparedness for this eventuality and with these lessons learned, India is ready for the 21st century.

Lack of trust between any two individuals or countries sours relations but what happens when we break a trust? Breaking a mutually established trust is far worse than an already present lack of trust. This break, depending upon the severity, causes emotional outbursts in individuals and war between nations- Kargil, 1999.

Indian troops and the Pakistan Army used to vacate their posts before winter along the LOC. This was an understanding between the two sides due to the harsh winters in these heights. The Pakistan Army broke this understanding and intruded 4-10km into Indian territory and occupied 130 winter-vacated Indian posts. When Indians started rightfully returning to their posts, Kargil war broke out. Thus, any amount of trust with an adversary like the Pakistan Army can cost India several lives.

When the War broke out, it was hard for the Indian establishment to believe that the Pakistan Army had intruded so deep into Batalik, Drass, Mushkoh Valley, and Kargil sectors. This shows a lack of intelligence which was firmly established by the Kargil Review Committee who cited Kargil, as a failure of Indian intelligence.

Today, this entire region is well fortified, and technological progress in surveillance has achieved new heights in India. From the NavIC System by ISRO to thermal and laser surveillance, our forces are ready to combat the slightest intrusion from the other side. As we progress and ISRO takes new strides in the geospatial domain, this technology will only get healthier. This will bring about an added muscle to our intelligence agencies.

Finally, when the severity of the intrusion was established, India entered with full force. The King of the Battlefield- Artillery entered in the form of Bofors Guns. Sustained artillery fire gradually breaks the will of the defenders and helps reduce casualties on the attacking side. During the Kargil war, Indian artillery fired 2,50,000 shells, bombs, and rockets. During the peak of the conflict, each artillery battery fired over one round per minute for 17 days, continuously. Artillery power was established in treacherous mountain terrain. Several peaks like Tololing and Tiger Hill were won on the backs of artillery power. The Bofors artillery was eventually upgraded to the Dhanush artillery guns and will remain as ‘King of the Battlefield’ for the most part of the 21st century.

The destructive power of Dhanush along with the strong satellite surveillance of ISRO will make our artillery strikes more precise and deadly.

Source: Financial Express

Moving on, force modernization and readiness was seen as lacking by India during Kargil but we were still much better than our adversaries. While the NATO forces prided themselves with up-to-date weapons, bulletproof helmets, and vests, our soldiers were struggling to get the same. The rifles got jammed on several occasions. On the other hand, the Pakistan Army was using sniper rifles at the drop of a hat. India was late in procuring and using the sniper rifles. Before the Kargil war, there was only one brigade of the Indian Army, comprising three units with about 2,500 soldiers, guarding 300 km of Indian territory, along the Line of Control (LoC) between Zojila and Leh.

Today, the situation has changed. The force deployment has tripled. Several gaps in the deployments have been plugged. Several helipads have come up, supplies are continuous and several howitzer guns now line up facing the LOC. In the future, the M777 Ultra Light Howitzers, AK-103 rifles, and bulletproof will give more teeth to our forces and make the LOC impenetrable.

Source: Guarding India

However, the area of concern is nuclear arms. Pakistan Army’s breach of trust can mirror itself in other areas like nuclear weaponry. The Pakistan Army might use tactical nuclear weapons when pushed to a corner or even before. India will not be the first user of nuclear weapons but when attacked, our response has to be in equal proportion and that can lead to a nuclear war. Being a major regional power, it falls on our shoulders to make sure such an eventuality doesn’t arise in our neighborhood. Using our economic powerhouse, we can develop the entire region taking it away from the horrors of war.

The Kargil War of 1999 was an eye-opener. The Pakistan Army invading and occupying the vacant positions was a blatant breach of trust. India was caught off-guard but was quick to reclaim all the positions in over 2 months. The Kargil War has made India ready for the warfare of the 21st century. Our geospatial technology has progressed leaps and bounds. We have upgraded the artillery guns and procured new weapons for the army. We have learned that the warfare of the 21st century will be advantageous to those who develop the capability of using upgraded 20th-century weapons with the 21st-century technological revolution.



  1. Kargil Vijay Diwas 2021: India to honour fallen heroes, 559 lamps lit in Ladakh. Hindustan Times. (2021, July 26). Retrieved February 10, 2022, from,more%20than%201%2C300%20were%20injured.

  2. Kargil War: All you need to know about kargil war. The Economic Times. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2022, from

  3. Kargil War: What happened 20 years ago and why it may not happen again. The Economic Times. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2022, from

  4. Wani, A. (2016, July 25). Bofors Power proved in Kargil War. India Today. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from

  5. Saha, A. (n.d.). Weapons used by Indian Army in Kargil conflict. MyGov. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from


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