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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Saturday 23 December 2023

1965 A Western Sunrise

 This is Shiv Kunal Verma's detailed study of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War. I have reviewed several of Helion's Asia@War series on these conflicts, which are excellent for wargamers. However, if you want more granular details of the battles, this is the book for you. While it is written from the Indian side of the hill, it is reasonably objective and doesn't ignore Pakistani dispositions.

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 took place from April to September 1965. The primary cause of the war was the long-standing Kashmir territorial dispute between the two countries. This was a hangover from partition and Britain's failure to deal with the issue properly. Tensions had been escalating over the years, and in April 1965, fighting broke out between Indian and Pakistani forces along the ceasefire line in the disputed region of Kashmir.

The conflict involved a series of battles on both the northern and southern fronts. The northern front saw intense fighting in the region of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as tank battles on the plains of Punjab. The southern front witnessed skirmishes in the Rann of Kutch area. It started in August 1965 when Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar, hoping to capitalise on India's weakness after the 1962 conflict with China. The operation involved infiltrating forces into Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to support a local uprising against Indian rule, despite considerable scepticism from Pakistan's military. India responded by launching a full-scale military offensive, known as Operation Grand Slam, to push back Pakistani forces. The conflict escalated, leading to significant battles in various sectors.

The northern fronts.

Verma covers these campaigns in enough detail for wargame scenario writers, although more maps in the text would have been helpful. The armoured battles were fought between India's Centurion and Sherman tanks backed up by lighter PT 76, and AMX 13 tanks, and Pakistan's M47/48 Pattons and Shermans. In the air, the Indian Air Force had Hawker Hunter, Gnat, Canberra and Vampires. The Pakistan Air Force had Sabre, Canberra and Starfighters. 

The author is critcal of the Indian military and political leadership. Commanders who had failed badly in the conflict with China were left in place, and the Air Force and Navy were viewed as adjuncts to the army. At the unit level, Indian troops fought well, and the Centurions got the better of the Pattons in armoured clashes. However, the Pakistan Air Force got the better of the air war, and their artillery was outstanding. 

International pressure, particularly from the United States and the Soviet Union, was crucial in bringing about a ceasefire. The Tashkent Agreement, brokered by Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin, was signed on January 10, 1966, between Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan. The agreement outlined a mutual withdrawal of forces to the pre-war positions and the restoration of diplomatic relations. The war did not result in significant territorial changes, and the Kashmir issue remained unresolved. Casualties are disputed, with India announcing 12,714, of which 2763 were killed. Estimates of Pakistani deaths range from 2,000 to 5,800. 

This is a text-heavy study with a few pictures and insufficient maps. One that I will return to for particular actions on the tabletop in this fascinating conflict.

My Indian armour in 1/285th scale.

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