Pathankot operation was disaster with Doval being main villain, Lt Gen Panag in private email to fellow army General


This is an email sent by Lt.Gen. HS Panag (retd), who was Northern Army Commander. In this email to Maj Gen Pradyot K Mallick (retd), formerly of the National Defence College, General Panag writes how India became a laughing stock in the eyes of world and ISI in particular. has accessed Lt Gen Panag’s email and is publishing only after receiving confirmation and approval from the General to carry it on our page.

Lt.Gen. Panag writes:

Dear Pradyot,

You are being mild. It is better to raise hue and cry while the incident is still in limelight. In two days the next party will begin. This operation was a disaster from the word go. Luck and providence saved the air base.

Infiltration can be effected with impunity all around the Shakargarh Bulge. BSF always lies.

Pathetic internal coordination. Despite windfall of SP Salwinder Singh carjacking and use of his mobile, we were not only slow to respond but were actually caught with our pants down.

Be that as it may, Doval held a conference on 01 January at 1500 hrs, also attended by Chief Of Army Staff. Air Base assessed as the target. All warned. Battery NSG despatched to Pathankot Air Base. Special Forces team  flown in and put in location at Mamun.

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No lead agency or overall Commamder appointed. Unless Doval felt he can control the events. Area in vicinity of base not combed. Public not informed. Failure of Pathankot Police and possibly Indian Army if they were tasked at all. If GOC 29 Division was in charge, it would have been done. Preventive Security of Air Base not beefed up. Given the size, an Infantry Battalion should have manned the perimeter and patrolled the wall from outside also.

Lesser said about the security of our Air Bases in general. 4-5 Platoons (60 men) of rag tag DSC capable of being static security guards only. Poorly trained Garuds approx 20-30. No electronics sensors of any kind along wall and fence. Outer periphery not lit up. Civilians’ houses right next to the wall.

Recall Air Forward Defence Bns of 71. One was located at Pathankot Air Base. Later merged with normal infantry. Our Air Bases are sitting ducks.

We have been singularly lucky that despite Mehran & Kamra, ISI did not target Air Bases near International Border.

Despite the 24 hr warning 5-8(?) terrorists scaled the wall and entered the Adm Area and attacked the DSC Mess where men were unarmed despite warning. 5 men lost.

Response of NSG and Garuds- the lesser said the better. The initial casualties imposed too much caution. Indian army moved in and killed 2 terrorists while two were killed by the NSG.

Victory declared by evening of 2 Jan by all including Prime Minister and Home Minister. Fundamental precaution of combing the area not taken. Consequently another 48 hrs to get one more terrorist. Operation still on. Lt Col NSG lost due to not following Standard Operating Procedure on 3 Jan. 7-8 NSG wounded.

Villain of the piece seems to be Doval, followed by Indian Air Force & Indian Army. What was NSG doing in a purely military installation? Time is not far when we will take orders from the HM/NSA/Police.

Once again we have become the laughing stock of the whole world and given our weaknesses on a platter to the ISI.

Operation should have been under GOC 29 Div. Air Base security should have been placed under the Indian Army. An Infatry Battalion is responsible for preventive security. Special Forced Team and Infantry Quick Response Teams placed inside the base.

On 01 Jan the area in vicinity of base should have been combed. Any one of us familiar with our Air Bases and their lack of security and hindsight of Mehran & Kamra would have done this.

All this has been put on Twitter by me from day one! It is better to shame ourselves in public to force reforms rather than do nothing!

Lt Gen H S Panag(R)

We’ve kept the content of the above correspondence in as much original form as possible to avoid losing the passion with which the author has written this email.

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