Militarily unsound plans, poor Army leadership and a baffling belief that there would be no armed response from Beijing led to the faulty implementation of the ‘forward policy’ of Jawaharlal Nehru’s government that resulted in a humiliating defeat to China in the 1962 war, say sections of the classified Henderson Brooks report that have become public.
The report was commissioned by the Army more than half a century ago and were made public Monday by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell. The Army had, through the report, aimed to draw lessons from the defeat and pinpoint accountability.
But it has remained classified and its publication drew little reaction from the defence ministry. The MoD Tuesday said the report remains top secret “given the extremely sensitive nature of the contents…which are of current operational value”.
Parts of the report, published on Maxwell’s web site briefly before being taken down, goes into details of the war and the implementation of the forward policy but is silent on the political leadership’s role and functioning as the same was not part of its terms of reference.
As first reported by The Indian Express in October 2012, no member of the political leadership including Nehru has been named in the report but it is highly critical of the Army leadership, including Lt Gen B M Kaul who was Chief of General Staff before the war and was appointed as the commander of the newly crated IV Corps that was routed in the Northeast.
The report, prepared by Lt Gen Henderson Brooks with the help of Brigadier Prem Bhagat, is also highly critical of the then Army Chief Gen P N Thapar.
The 126-page section published Monday says that while the forward policy was a politically sound one even though its introduction “certainly increased” the chances of conflict, the military action planned around it was flawed and hasty.
“It is obvious that politically the forward policy was desirable and presumably the eviction of the Chinese from Ladakh must always be the eventual aim. For this, there can be no argument but what is pertinent is whether we were militarily in a position at that time to implement the policy,” the report says.
Going into minute details of the actions before the start of the conflict as well as a blow-by-blow account of the actual hostilities, the report blames an unsound military plan as the main reason for the debacle in the war and has said that the government had advocated a “cautious policy” that was misinterpreted by Army HQ.
“The government who politically must have been keen to recover territory advocated a cautious policy whilst Army HQ dictated a policy that was clearly militarily unsound,” the report says, adding that the full import of the government’s instructions was not forwarded by Army continued…