Operation Falcon to Counter China

China wants India to remember 1962, but conveniently forgets the skirmish in 1967 and the operation conducted by India in 1986. Here recalling how India surprised China. This operation, named Operation Falcon, led the PLA to sack its Tibet Military District Commander and its Military Region chief in Chengdu. A conflict developed in the Sumdorong Chu region, north of Tawang in 1986, which led to Indian Army Chief Gen Sundarji launching Operation Falcon.

India was sending IB teams to Sumdorong Chu, a few kilometres east of the site of the first clash of 1962 on the far side of the Nyamjang Chu. They did so in 1984 and 1985, but when they went back in 1986, they found the Chinese there in force. India protested to the Chinese presence in June 1986, but the Chinese insisted that the area was north of the ‘so-called McMahon Line’.

Indian defences had to be increased in the region, and so the Army devised Operation Falcon which would allow them to quickly mobilize on the border.

As there was no road beyond Tawang, Gen Sundarji decided to use the IAF’s Russian-made heavy lift AN-26 helicopters to air land a brigade at a place called Zemithang, south of the Sino-Indian border. Indian forces took up positions overlooking Sumdorong Chu along with three other key mountain features. Unlike 1962, this time Indians held the high ground.China rushed to mobilize forces along the border. So did India. But Gen Sundarji had a few surprises.

Using Il-76 aircrafts and AN-26 helicopters, the Army placed T-72 tanks and infantry combat vehicles in the Demchok area of Ladakh and northern Sikkim. The Chinese had no credible response to this. After a 15 November flag meeting calmed things down a bit.

Operation Brasstacks Against Pakistan

This operation was a massive military exercise conducted by the Indian Army in Rajasthan state of India between 1986 and 1987.

This was the largest mobilization of troops by the army. The objectives were – 1) deployment of ground troops and 2) To conduct a series of amphibious assault exercises by the Indian Navy near to a Pakistan naval base.

The operation involved infantry, mechanized, air assault divisions, and 600,000 army personnel, all amasses within 100 miles of Pakistan. An amphibious assault group formed from Indian naval forces was planned and deployed near to the Korangi Creek of Karachi Division of Pakistan.

Security information website Global Security.org characterized the operation as ‘bigger than any NATO exercise – and the biggest since World War II’.The Government of Pakistan viewed this exercise as a direct threat to the nation’s physical existence. They were utterly unnerved with this humongous exercise and regarded it as a major escalation.

In this manner, General Sundarji surprised both the countries in the span of one year.


Vinayak Jain

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