Helion's Kargil 1999: South Asia's First Post-Nuclear Conflict

Author/Artists: Sanjay Badri-Maharaj


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 80 pages, softcover, over 100 images
ISBN 978-1-913118-65-5

After the independence of British India, the western and far eastern parts became the nation of Pakistan. The reason for this was secular differences with Pakistan being predominantly Muslim. There was a considerable movement of Muslims living in India to Pakistan as they did not feel safe living in India where there was a great deal of secular violence.

Despite this separation, India and Pakistan have never been what one could consider friends. There have always been disputes about the Kashmir region of northern India. Wars were fought in 1948 over Kashmir and in 1971 over East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh. Though Kashmir was divided into a Pakistani and Indian portion with some territory being claimed by China, there has never really been an easy peace in the area.

During 1999, the military of Pakistan decided that the time was right to invade a section of Indian Kasmir in the area of Kargil. There is a line of control separating the two Kashmirs that was supposed to be manned by outposts by both nations, but in this particular area, the terrain is extremely rugged and mountainous, so keeping troops in these outposts was allowed to lapse. This, and a lack of proper surveillance allowed the Pakistani army to infiltrate the region and build up defenses on the Indian side of the line. In addition, on the Pakistani side of the mountains, a large number of heavy artillery units were moved in place to combat the expected Indian response.

Once the incursion was realized, the Indian army started moving forces into the area. Initially things did not go well for India as Pakistani troops held the high ground and were able to provide extremely accurate artillery fire against Indian forces. The Indian Air Force was called into operation to provide support, but they were simply not prepared for combat at these altitudes. In fact, their main strike aircraft, the Jaguar, was unable to operate this high up, requiring some less useful types to be called in. Throughout all of the war, the Pakistani Air Force did not cross the border as that would have escalated things even more. Though both sides had tactical nukes, neither side used them so the campaign was fully conventional. In the end, it was Indian air power that made the difference.

The author has done a superb job of telling the story of this conflict. However, the lack of information from the Pakistani side of things (and this war is little known in Pakistan), means that we get much of the story from the Indian side of things. This includes the political situation prior to the events, the military build up, stories of various combat actions of infantry in the highest part of the world, and the use of artillery and air power in these regions. This is all accompanied by an excellent choice of period photos and maps/charts. There are a few more maps in this book than in some of the others in this series, and I know I appreciated these being included so I could keep track of how the campaign unfolded. Also in line with other of Helion's books, there are a goodly number of profiles of not only aircraft but other equipment.

I have to honestly tell you that was not really aware of this particular conflict at the time and found this to be a fascinating read. As with all books in this series, it is superbly done. That makes it very easy to recommend to you. Get this one, you will be pleased that you did.

July 2020

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Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link.

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