Helion's Operation Cactus

Author/Artists: Sanjay Badri-Maharaj


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 60 pages, softcover, approx 100 images
ISBN 978-1-914377-02-0

In 1988, India was still very much involved in dealing with the civil war in Sri Lanka. Yet a few hundred miles away, in the Maldives, events came to pass that would require India's civil and military leadership to be tasked as they never had before.

The Maldives had always had a fairly corrupt government regardless of who was in power. This is an island nation that basically survived on tourism. I dare say that a fair amount of the money drawn in by the government went into the pockets of its ruling politicians. When one has corruption in government, it is fairly easy to overthrow that government.

Not far away, one of the several Tamil groups from Sri Lanka was hired by one of the Maldive's opposition politicians to take over the government so that he could install himself as president. Maldives has a very small police/military force that had little more than light weapons. This set the background for the attempted coup. However, though the mercenaries did take over many of the public buildings, and kept the police/military sieged in their barracks, they did not capture the ruling president, did not take over the airport and did not cut communications to the outside world. This allowed the the ruling president to call for help.

Many nations were called, but none could come to the rescue in a fairly short time. India was contacted and decided to help. This was the first time the Indian military had been tasked with a rapid response requirement. They had never done this sort of thing before, so all was new. They came up with Operation Cactus.

This book goes into background history of the political situation in the Maldives, and a great deal into the planning and the seemingly impossible task of getting together the forces needed to successfully perform the operation. While the operation went a lot more smoothly that one would expect, the preamble to the actual event is what makes for the most interesting reading. This is a case of units that had never worked together meshing fairly well despite the obstacles placed in front of them. It makes for another great great from the folks at Helion, one that you really should pick up.

March 2022

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