Mashkoh Valley strategic point: Kargil war veteran

The Mashkoh Valley was a strategic point during the Kargil War of 1999, Brig Umesh Singh Bawa, who was then commanding 17 Jat that was instrumental in the capture of Pimple Complex, part of point 4875 in the valley, said on Friday.

Speaking about his recently published book, ‘Mashkoh — Kargil As I Saw It’ on the virtual opening of fourth edition of three-day Military Literature Festival, Brig Bawa (retd) said that the focus of the book is on identifying the mistakes committed during the 1999 war.

The book is a first-hand authentic account of war stories of the ‘Mashkoh Warriors’.

Brig Bawa said the main aim of writing the book was sharing lessons of war for future generations.

“Such crucial lessons will not have to be relearned and rewritten in more blood,” he said.

“The book showcases the mistakes we made during the Kargil War so that they should not be repeated. It is a way of telling the world about the sacrifices and bravery of the soldiers of 17 Jat.”

He said the book was written during coronavirus lockdown.

In the discussion, Maj Gen Amarjit Singh said the book by Brig Bawa, who remained on the battlefield despite braving bullets during the Kargil War, was a firsthand account of what actually happened.

He said sometimes people, who write military history, have not been in the war in person and is merely a secondhand account.

“But this book gives a firsthand account of what actually happened in the strategically located Mashkoh Valley,” he added.

Journalist Manraj Grewal Sharma said this book also contains a chapter about lessons that the media reporting the war should know.

Brig Bawa said a lot of media was covering some other areas during the Kargil War, but Mashkoh Valley was in the interiors and was strategically located.

“The reason for our success in the Mashkoh Valley was because my troops were already acclimatized as we were already deputed in a high-altitude area somewhere else. So that way, my troops had an edge over others and fought bravely,” he said.

He said the enemy was surrounded from three directions and his troops had established a firm base with multiple options from different directions.

“The Western side was used to deceive the enemy, whereas the troops had actually decided to launch the assault from south and southeastern direction. It was due to this deception plan that the enemy could not know from where the attack is coming and it helped us,” he explained.

He also shared that surveillance “is the most important in any war and over the years, our capabilities have improved and lots of equipment has been purchased”.

He said a country with better surveillance always have an edge over their opponent.

He also shared his thoughts on the media as to what to report and what not to keeping in mind security of the country. “The media and the army should always join hands for raising morale of troops and civilians. Wrong things should be reported after the war is over and not during the war.”

The book captures the tales of bravery, humour, emotions, tragic losses and hard-won victories in extremely challenging high-altitude terrain of Kargil, where many believed the mission was impossible.