‘Mistakes, lapses of staff sitting in Delhi without stress of battle more heinous than errors by commanders in field of battle’

Excerpts from sections of the classified Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 India-China war that became public Monday.

1962 India-China war 1962 India-China war
Updated: March 19, 2014 6:24 pm

Excerpts from sections of the classified Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 India-China war that became public Monday:

On an unequal battle: In 1960, China had increased its deployment in Ladakh and a war game run by the Western Command brought out that a minimum of one division was required to meet the threat. This demand was placed in September 1961 but no decision was given by Army HQ. This can be attributed to an incorrect assessment of Chinese reaction by the General Staff Branch of the Army HQ led by Lt Gen Kaul. “General Staff Branch Army HQ took little action on Western Command’s recommendations, either to strengthen Ladakh or alternatively to lessen the tension there.”

On the role of Lt Gen Kaul, Chief of General Staff and IV Corps Commander: “Normal planning, detailed staff work and coordination, prerequisites of proper military functioning, posture and balance were progressively abandoned by General Staff Branch Army HQ. It is more a question of action on whips and supposition and then plugging holes rather than on deliberate military thought followed by planned actions. Gen Kaul…time and again ordered in furtherance of the forward policy the establishment of individual posts, overruling protests made by Western Command.”


On the role of top military leadership: “Lapse in staff duties on the part of the chief of the general staff, his deputy, the Director of Military Operations, the Director, Military Intelligence, and other staff directors is inexcusable. From this stemmed the unpreparedness and the unbalance of our forces. These appointments in General Staff are key appointments and officers were hand-picked by Gen Kaul to fill them.”

“The mistakes and lapses of the staff sitting in Delhi without the stress and strain of the battle are more heinous than the errors made by commanders in the field of battle.”

On the better performance by the Western command in Ladakh: “It was a junior leaders and jawans battle and there is no doubt that they acquitted themselves well. They fought under grave handicaps and in face of defeat, yet there was no sign of undue panic and never a rout. The main reason for this was that troops fought under commanders they knew and trusted. The good name of our Army was not completely marred in Ladakh and the grave errors committed by the General Staff to an extent mitigated, thanks to the fighting ability of our troops.”

On troop conditions in Eastern Sector under IV Corps: “There were cases of posts without supplies and food for a week or more. The condition of the men living on these isolated bleak outposts at altitudes over 12,000 ft without shelter, food or fuel, can well be imagined.”


Unplanned action changed an Army into a mob: “The hardship and privations suffered by the men however had an important bearing on morale and leadership. …continued »

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