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Study of Kargil Conflict by NPS California, US Navy

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Darth Marr, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. Darth Marr

    Darth Marr Captain FULL MEMBER

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  2. Darth Marr

    Darth Marr Captain FULL MEMBER

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    A thesis on the Kargil war and high altitude warfare done by the NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL, US Navy. Released in public in 2003. War reading through it, thought i would post it here for members to see...

    Can mods change the title too "Study of Kargil Conflict by NPS California, US Navy" ?
     
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  3. Darth Marr

    Darth Marr Captain FULL MEMBER

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    INTRODUCTION

    "Successful Indian offensive tactics mirror those used by both the Gebirgsjaeger of the German Army in the Rhodope Mountains of Greece and the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division in the Apennines of Italy during the Second World War. Fire and maneuver, provided by artillery and small well-trained infantry units, decided the battle. Tactics that failed in previous wars did not succeed at Kargil. Pakistani forces exposed atop the ridgelines at Kargil succumbed to massive firepower and bold maneuver, as fortified Greek positions had fallen to overwhelming German fire."


    "The Northern Light Infantry (NLI), composed of local men accustomed to working in the mountains, provided the majority of the 1,700-man force. Highly trained Special Services Group (SSG) soldiers reportedly accompanied the small infantry units. At least eighteen artillery batteries reportedly supported the operation, most from across the LOC in Pakistani territory"


    "Prolonged exposure to the high altitude environment gradually eroded the NLI’s ability to fight and survive. Soldiers remained in positions for long periods of time, exposed to thin air and cold weather. Tactical mistakes in mountain terrain negated initial success. Holding the high ground did not ensure victory. Linear defenses consisting of undermanned positions sat exposed to massive Indian artillery barrages. The NLI lacked adequate materials to construct positions in the austere environment. Overhead cover typically collapsed under artillery fire, killing the inhabitants. Tactical mistakes combined with failure to adapt to the environment shifted the advantage to the Indian forces."

    "Initial offensive operations failed despite an overwhelming force advantage. Indian planners underestimated the size and tenacity of their foe, and poorly planned assaults produced staggering casualties. Soldiers involved in the initial actions were neither equipped nor prepared for high altitude combat. Battalions launched uphill assaults without sufficient artillery and close air support. Indian infantrymen advanced up steep gradients. Assaults faded as men succumbed to exhaustion and enemy fire."

    "Thin air diminished weapon accuracy and hindered aircraft performance. Adverse weather and the heightened SAM threat hampered the IAF’s attempts at close air support (CAS). Aircraft proved unreliable in rapidly changing weather, and a lack of pilot training for CAS in the mountains further diminished the IAF’s ability to provide firepower in coordination with ground maneuver. The IAF eventually adapted and enjoyed some success, primarily against fixed targets. The introduction of laser-guided munitions (LGM) increased accuracy and contributed to the fight on Tiger Hill. IAF pressure on NLI soldiers had a significant psychological effect. Unconventional techniques, such as using aerial munitions to create avalanches over trails, isolated Pakistani defensive positions and destroyed supply sites."

    The Indian Army modified its offensive tactics and exploited NLI errors. Massive artillery barrages preceded infantry assaults. Suppressive fire, provided primarily by artillery and mortars, set the conditions for successful attacks. Battalions advanced along the most inaccessible routes. Daring maneuver along a difficult axis of attack created the crucial element of surprise. Indian soldiers climbed vertical cliffs throughout the night, attacking the Pakistani positions at dawn. Once at the objective, victory depended on combat at close quarters.
     
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  4. Darth Marr

    Darth Marr Captain FULL MEMBER

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    THE HIGH ALTITUDE BATTLEFIELD

    "Projectiles are more efficient in low air pressure because of the reduction in drag. The increase in efficiency causes bullets to strike higher on the target at high altitude than at sea level. At an elevation of 10,000 feet (3,050 m), a round fired at a target at a distance of 1,000 meters will impact almost 70 inches higher than at sea level."

    The range of artillery shells increases as well, yet accuracy and predictability suffer. High angle munitions, such as mortar rounds, are especially erratic. Artillery units stationed atop the Siachen Glacier have learned from experience that firing tables developed at sea level are of no use at high altitude.

    Both the Indian and Pakistan Army have extensive experience with acclimatization programs:

    Pakistan’s program begins with a staged ascent and ends with a graded climb. Soldiers ascend to 10,000 feet (3,050 m), where they remain for one week; they climb to 13,000 feet (3,960 m) the following week. From that point forward, soldiers rest one night for each 1,000 feet (305 m) climb in elevation.34 The graded climb places limits on sleeping altitude, allowing partial acclimatization to occur daily. Soldiers who develop AMS descend to base altitude and repeat the process; soldiers who develop HAPE or HACE are reassigned.

    "Rapid deployment proved devastating for the Indian Army during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. The Indian Army suffered more casualties due to altitude illness than enemy fire. By some estimates, as much as 15 percent of the force developed HAPE. India rapidly deployed soldiers to elevations approaching 18,000 feet (5,490 m) from units spread throughout the country at lower elevations. China deployed acclimated soldiers from its garrison at 15,000 feet (4,570 m) in Tibet"



     
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  5. Darth Marr

    Darth Marr Captain FULL MEMBER

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    Terrain and Soldier

    Most armies estimate one hour of time for every four kilometers of horizontal movement on a flat surface. Uneven terrain generally adds at least one hour for every 300 meters of ascent or 600 meters of descent. The Pakistan Army estimates that a light unit requires up to six full days to travel twenty-five kilometers in high mountains.

    Experience of the Gebirgsjaeger, the German Army’s renowned mountain fighters:

    The Jaeger carried a light assault kit during the attack, which allowed them to scale vertical terrain quickly and gain momentum. The assault kit contained a ground sheet and blanket, two days’ rations, and ammunition. They did not wear helmets or carry bayonets during the attack, considering the items to be unnecessary weight.

    Effectiveness of Weapons and Aircraft
    Target engagement changes because of the difficulty of estimating range in mountains. Targets seem farther away to soldiers firing downhill, which typically causes them to fire high. Similarly, targets appear closer to soldiers firing uphill, which may cause them to fire low. Machine guns can rarely achieve grazing fire due to drastic changes in elevation, and their effects are usually confined to the beaten zone, the area of impact created by plunging fire.

    Aircraft are more vulnerable to enemy ground fire, especially SAMs, which can be concealed in terrain folds. The Soviet military lost more than one hundred ground-attack aircraft and three hundred helicopters to well-hidden mujahadeen missile and anti-aircraft gun teams during ten years of combat in the mountains of Afghanistan.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
  6. Darth Marr

    Darth Marr Captain FULL MEMBER

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    THE OPERATIONAL ART OF HIGH ALTITUDE WARFARE

    Victorious armies have historically focused offensive operations on isolating enemy positions by gaining control of surrounding heights and passes, the key terrain that dominates a mountainous region. Isolation further exacerbates the effects of the environment, degrading the enemy forces’ ability and will to fight. Applying overwhelming firepower to fix the isolated force, in concert with maneuver, leads to the enemy’s defeat.

    Maneuver
    Trained mountaineers allow an army to execute bold maneuver over the most difficult and unlikely terrain, the key to successful offensive operations in the mountains. Maneuver in the mountains therefore places a premium on the ability to install and use ropes to scale vertical cliffs.

    Maneuver must be on an unexpected axis of advance; small units that execute multidirectional attacks can achieve tactical surprise, critical to success against heights. The German Army’s own Field Service Regulation of 1933, written after extensive combat experience in the mountains of Europe during World War I, clearly stated the methods that achieve victory in the mountains:

    Firepower
    Artillery is the most effective and reliable method of delivery on the high altitude battlefield, because of its ability to concentrate sustained fire in varied terrain and harsh weather.

    "The Jaeger became masters of integrating firepower and maneuver to destroy mountain defensive positions. In April 1941, the 5th Gebirgs Division launched the first successful attack on permanent mountain fortifications by a light infantry force in the history of warfare.70 The series of concrete bunkers that formed the Metaxas Line stretched across the Rhodope Mountains in Macedonia. The mountains reached an altitude of 6,500 feet (2,000 m) with little vegetation on the highest ridges and deep, narrow valleys. The Greek Army considered the line to be impregnable.71 The Jaeger initiated the assault with overwhelming fire support, firing heavy, long-range artillery from the valley floor. They dismantled and carried mountain artillery guns to the high slopes by pack mule. Ju-87 Stuka dive-bombers attacked the pillboxes, but had difficulty acquiring the targets and did not destroy them. Small infantry units pressed the attack, using mortars and heavy machine gun fire to suppress the bunkers. Jaeger dragged light artillery pieces within close range of the bunkers to provide direct fire. The overwhelming suppressive fire of Stuka, mortars, and artillery allowed small.groups of Jaeger to maneuver and destroy the bunkers by assault.72 The Metaxas Line fell after four days of intense combat."

    Holding the High Ground
    The high ground does not guarantee victory.Defenders can use the reverse slope to protect soldiers from the effects of enemy firepower. The reverse slope is the mountainside that descends away from the enemy. Defending forces use the topographical crest to shield the defensive positions from observation and the effect of overwhelming firepower. Armies have used this technique with great effect in previous mountain wars.

    Using the terrain to mask the effects of firepower requires a large force due to the extension of the battlefield’s depth. This requirement eliminates light, irregular forces from using the reverse slope technique as a general framework covering a large piece of terrain. However, units lacking manpower and heavy weapons can use terrain locally, in battle positions, to protect soldiers from the effects of enemy fire.

    CONCLUSION

    The high altitude environment alters the playing field, significantly changing the manner in which armies conduct military operations. The atmosphere and terrain combine to degrade man and equipment alike, setting constraints on military planners and reducing available options. Static forces fare worse than those that are on the offensive. Although the high ground affords command of large expanses of land, it also exposes men to the elements and the full brunt of massed enemy fire.

    Artillery has emerged over the course of man’s experience with war at high altitude as the most reliable means of firepower delivery. Although it is limited in mobility and suffers erratic ballistic effects, light artillery has proven to be a decisive and devastating force in mountain warfare. Trained light infantry, operating in small units, best performs the bold maneuver essential to gaining tactical surprise.

    The high altitude battlefield would degrade and limit both combatants, but exposure to the Himalayan environment would prove far more devastating to the NLI.
     
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  7. Darth Marr

    Darth Marr Captain FULL MEMBER

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    THE NORTHERN LIGHT INFANTRY AT KARGIL

    INTRODUCTION
    Difficult terrain provided infiltration routes for a light infantry force. The atmosphere and terrain enhanced the effects of Pakistani air defenses, reducing India’s asymmetric advantage of air power. Well-placed artillery and heavy weapons balanced Indian superiority on the ground as well, defeating poorly planned assaults. A limited arsenal atop decisive terrain yielded initial success, but it could not withstand critical miscalculations, the destructive nature of the environment, and an adaptive Indian military.

    Pakistan did not provide the manpower and logistical effort necessary to retain a high altitude belt of terrain. A light infantry force that could slip past Indian border security could not hold terrain against a combined ground and air offensive. An inadequate logistical effort exposed men to the environment’s impact with little means of protection. Unable to rotate to lower altitudes, pockets of soldiers remained across the LOC for extended periods. The thin air and frigid conditions of the Kargil battlefield gradually eroded the Pakistani soldiers’ health and combat effectiveness. Weary men in static positions lost their fighting edge due to over-exposure, inadequate shelter, and malnutrition.

    Military leaders exacerbated the environment’s effects by committing numerous tactical mistakes in the unforgiving mountain terrain. Dispersed outposts, which were not part of a coherent defensive scheme that provided mutual support among positions, proved vulnerable to Indian firepower and maneuver. Defenses afforded little depth and no flexibility, with small units assigned to retain areas too large for their manpower and firepower capabilities. Most individual positions occupied the forward slope, which exposed soldiers to Indian fire. The Indian Army eventually exploited these mistakes and forced a Pakistani withdrawal.

    THE NORTHERN LIGHT INFANTRY
    FCNA commands three Pakistan Army brigades that are posted in the Northern Areas and responsible for maintaining security along the LOC. The brigades routinely contained regular army battalions as well as battalions of the Northern Light Infantry (NLI), whose soldiers would bear the burden of seizing terrain across the LOC.

    NLI battalions resemble Western light infantry battalions in size and structure, each holding approximately 600 men. An NLI battalion consists of four rifle companies, each consisting of three platoons and a heavy weapons section. Platoons have three sections and two light machine guns. Each company has two 60-mm mortars. The light infantry battalions have few organic combined arms assets. The headquarters contains an 81-mm mortar platoon with four tubes and an air defense section with four 12.7-mm machine guns. Each battalion has an animal transport section, an essential source of mobility in the mountains.

    Captured Pakistani soldiers and documents identified elements of the 4, 5, 6 and 12 NLI battalions. A battalion of the Special Service Group (SSG), elite commandos trained in advanced mountaineering, and elements of the Frontier Corps of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), the Chitral and Bajaur Scouts, augmented the NLI forces as well.

    Indian intelligence sources estimated that the total force numbered approximately 1,700 men

    INFILTRATION IN THE HIGH MOUNTAINS
    The NLI traveled in small formations of approximately thirty soldiers each. Soldiers walked on ridgelines through gaps in Indian coverage created by the abandonment of outposts during the winter months. They used mule teams and helicopters to carry equipment across the LOC.

    The NLI occupied approximately 130 posts in Indian-held Kashmir, creating a total frontage of about 150-km that varied in depth from 4 to 8-km across the LOC. A force of more than 500 Pakistanis occupied Mushkoh Valley and Dras, establishing positions on Tiger Hill and Tololing that commanded the Srinagar-Leh Highway. A smaller group of approximately 100 Pakistanis occupied positions 4-km deep in Kaksar, near the town of Kargil. Further north, more than 250 Pakistanis moved into Batalik and Turtok, on the southern edge of the Siachen Glacier (see Appendix. Array of Forces During the Kargil Conflict). The NLI had seized the initiative with a successful insertion, and occupied dominating heights along the LOC.


     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
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