The Saturday Book Review: Full Spectrum-India’s Wars 1972-2020

The Saturday Book Review: Full Spectrum-India’s Wars 1972-2020

TITLE: Full Spectrum-India’s Wars 1972-2020

Author: Arjun Subramaniam

Publisher: Harper Collins (2020)

ISBN: 978-935357-805-3

TNA Rating: *****

The LAC is on fire with the Indian and Chinese forces in eyeball to eyeball confrontations and skirmishes. Chinese expansionist agenda in full flow once again The dragon showing off its colours and revelling in the art of Stealth Deceit and Deception.

A country threatening the World with its newly acquired economic muscle, yet inexperienced in wars.Through deceit and deception unleashed a fury in the form of the Chinese Virus (so they say), bringing the world to its knees

The Western Borders , the LOC already inflamed for the past many decades, with cross border terrorism and infiltrations have all tested a peace loving nation India.

These continuous provocations have created a resolve and ensured that India has emerged as one of the Finest, the Fiercest and the most experienced Fighting forces in the world.

The author Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam has embarked on his Magnus Opus on the wars that India has fought over decades, and which has given them a competitive edge and the experience over its adversaries both in the Western and Northern Borders

The Full Spectrum: India’s Wars 1972-2020 is a follow up of his earlier book India’s Wars: A Military History 1947-1971.

‘The Indian Army has over 1.3 million personnel, the Indian Navy has about 100 Frontline combat ships while the IAF has over fifty squadrons and 800 aircraft. These are large forces and have been near constant state of readiness and have seen much action’.

The Armed Forces have played a key role in protecting India’s sovereignty and raising its stature as a stable democracy and responsible regional power. The Nation’s soldiers, sailors and airmen occupy a special place in the hearts of people.

The book is a sweeping account of war and conflict in contemporary India over the past five decades.Covering every major operation that the armed forces have participated in-including the Kargil conflict of 1999, insurgencies in the north – east, terrorism and proxy wars in Jammu and Kashmir, separatist violence in Punjab, the IPKF intervention in Sri Lanka and the continued stress along the LOC and the LAC.

Each Operation and Battle has been presented in such lucid details which make it a very informative and interesting read.

The background, preparedness, challenges and the outcome of each conflict have been presented with a view to enlighten the reader of the understanding of all that goes into being a part of the Indian Armed Forces.

An excerpt:

“A second pass is carried out when there is ammunition left, to ensure that the target is destroyed. However, if the first pass is not good enough, this move is fraught with danger because the element of surprise is lost.

Unless a new attack pattern or an unpredictable flight profile is adopted before a second attack, the enemy could be lying in wait with interceptor aircraft and ack-ack, or surface –to air missiles(SAMs).

The First kills achieved by the Indian Air Force(IAF) IN THE 1971 War with Pakistan were the result of a four aircraft Pakistan Sabre aircraft formation carrying out repeated passes in a predictable pattern over an Indian Army Brigade in the Boyra Sector of the erstwhile East Pakistan.

It was this careless bit of tactical flying that allowed the Indian Gnat aircraft (affectionately called the ‘last real fighter’ by the fighter pilots who flew them) to pounce on them from above. The Sabres paid a heavy price for their complacency.”

The book is a tribute to the soldiers standing vigil through the night at lonely outposts, not knowing when an enemy sniper could bring one of them down, while the rest of the country celebrates Diwali, Gurupurab, Eid or Christmas.

It is an ode to the unsung helicopter and transport pilots who snake through narrow valleys in poor weather to drop sacks of flour and potatoes or a bagful of letters. It is a salute to the Sailors helping their captain on the bridge , navigating their frigate through a stomach churning storm on the high seas whilst on an anti-piracy mission.

In the words of General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff "Full Spectrum mirrors the myriad reflections of India’s military leaders who witnessed momentous events in diverse battle spaces over the last five decades. Covering a vast landscape that ranges from India’s strategic compulsions to joint operations and intense personal experiences of combat,,the book offers policy and operational planners a detailed lens into the past as they chart the future of India as a Leading power.”

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