It was easy for the terrorists to reach the barbed wiring as the area surrounding the Uri camp was wooded and mountainous. They could have moved from rock to rock without detection. Even amateurs do it in weekend war games. That’s exactly why we were unable to catch the dacoits of the Chambal ravines. The terrain suited them.
If the camp had been at the centre of a circular cordon sanitaire with nothing but flat land spotlit at night, these killers would not have made it anywhere near the infantry battalion.
As a matter of fact, the response of the just relieved of duty soldiers was impressive in that they were able to shoot the intruders. Carrying heavy caliber weapons and hurling grenades does not require strategic genius and it speaks well for our boys that these killers did not melt back into the forest and the foliage without casualties. They probably expected to get away with it.
Having said that, the concern now is what India should do in retaliation. It is said that despite the five odd years of slack in dribbling away our ammunition and our weaponry into the red as far as shortages go, the investment master plan is to make us the fourth most potent armed forces in the world by 2019/2020.
That is still a pretty far distance away and the reality is now. As the shortage in what is projected as 125 out of 170 types of ammo (CAG 2013) with a nominal increase of just 15 percent since then our shabby government produced stuff isn’t going to cut the mustard. The Ordnance Factory Board is not able to deliver anywhere near the need and the augmentation from Russia isn’t enough.
It is remarkable that the government (present and past) will not permit projectiles to be manufactured by the private sector. If that permission was given, India would be able to reach its required supply in double-quick time.
We should go shopping today. Getting up to speed has to be a rushed priority never mind the bullet train, just get the bullets and get going now. Especially for Indian armour and its T72 and T90 tank regiments. High explosive fin propelled shells are of the essence. High explosive anti-tank (HEAT) shells have to be invested in. The western sector is a tank terrain and we all remember the battle of Shakargarh and Basantar in the Pathankot region. With the monsoon over, the marshes dry all conventional conflicts and even skirmishes have a role for the armoured corps.
War wastage reserves (WWR) are weapons and ammunition kept back in case of battle conditions where the firing rate is infinitely more.
The present estimate is between 8 and 20 days depending on whose report you are reading. India’s target has been 40 days because in all scenarios it is unlikely it can last longer. But to be at 50% of a best case scenario seems to be self-indulgent and blinkered.
It is a moot point in that there is a damn shortage, it is public knowledge and giving your adversary, this comfort is just not acceptable.
Quality and quantity, we need them both. Now.
In the interim on foreign policy front, India’s best bet is to use contempt washed in silence as a weapon.