A Military History of India since 1972
Full Spectrum Operations and the Changing Contours of Modern Conflict
A Military History of India since 1972 is a definitive work of military history that gives the Indian military its rightful place as a key contributor to Indian democracy. Arjun Subramaniam offers an engaging narrative that combines superb storytelling with the academic rigor of deep research and analysis. It is a comprehensive account of Indias resolute, responsible, and restrained use of force as an instrument of statecraft and how the military has played an essential role in securing the countrys democratic tradition along with its rise as an economic and demographic power.
This book is also about how the Indian nation-state and its armed forces have coped with the changing contours of modern conflict in the decades since 1972. These include the 2016 surgical or cross-border strikes by the Indian Army’s Special Forces across the line of control with Pakistan, the face-off with the Chinese at Doklam in 2017 and in Ladakh in 2020, the preemptive punitive strikes by the Indian Air Force against terrorist camps in Pakistan in 2019, and the large-scale aerial engagement between the Indian Air Force and the Pakistan Air Force the following day. These conflicts also include the long-running insurgencies in the northeast, terrorism and proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir, separatist violence in Punjab, and the Indian Peacekeeping Force’s intervention in Sri Lanka. The author also includes a chapter on the development of India’s nuclear capabilities.
“Arjun Subramaniam’s A Military History of India since 1972 is a clear, comprehensive, and intriguing account of the conflicts that the Indian state has coped with both on domestic and external fronts. He not only has made deft use of the extant literature but also has drawn on a range of interviews with senior military and civilian defense personnel. This work will be of considerable interest to journalists, analysts, and academics concerned with the evolution of India’s security policies since 1972.”
—Sumit Ganguly, distinguished professor of political science, Indiana University Bloomington, and coauthor of Ascending India and Its State Capacity: Extraction, Violence, and Legitimacy
“Arjun Subramaniam has done it again. Through meticulous research he has uncovered telling details that vivify the familiar story of India’s post-1971 conflicts in a new history that does justice—and honor—to all of India’s armed forces. Both scholars and policymakers will benefit greatly from this intimate window on modern India’s military operations.”
—Ashley J. Tellis, Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs,Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
“In combination with Arjun Subramaniam’s earlier volume on 1947 to 1971, this book is a much-needed survey of India’s military history since independence. As a retired air vice marshal of the Indian Air Force, the author brings an important triservice perspective to the topic. The paucity of available official sources means that the real strength of the work is the interviews and correspondence with senior commanders in all three Indian Armed Forces. It is a major contribution to the contemporary military history of India.”
— Alan Jeffreys, author of Approach to Battle: Training the Indian Army during the Second World War
“As one of India’s important military historians, Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam masterfully brings the reader on a vivid journey through India’s evolving military doctrine as the country’s global stature and influence continues to rise. A Military History of India since 1972: Full Spectrum Operations and the Changing Contours of Modern Conflict provides a meticulous historical understanding of India’s military positions and current conflicts through the author’s first-hand experience as an Indian Air Force fighter pilot and personal accounts shared by many of India’s top military leaders.”
—William S. Cohen, US secretary of defense, 1997–2001
“Since 1947, the Indian Armed Forces have been involved in many and various operations. In the second part of his military history of India,Arjun Subramaniampicks up the story from 1972. He includes a range of campaigns, from counterinsurgency against the Nagas, the troubled peace-keeping operation in Sri Lanka, and the high-intensity Kargil conflict. As before he brings to the subject not only extensive research but also an insider’s recollections and insights.”
—Sir Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of war studies, King’s College London, and author of The Future of War: A History
“A worthy successor to the first volume, A Military History of India since 1972 continues Subramaniam’s deeply researched and sweeping account of modern Indian military history. Strategy, technology, operations, mobilization systems: it’s all here. Simply indispensable for anyone trying to understand India’s history and its place in modern global security dynamics.”
—Wayne E. Lee, Dowd Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina
“A sequel to India’s Wars: A Military History 1947–1971, A Military History of India since 1972 examines the wars and conflicts India has fought since 1972. With a deft hand and the perspective of a military professional, Subramaniam provides a detailed yet vivid and insightful account of the operations of India’s Armed Forces. Anyone interested in India’s role in the world should read this book.”
—M. Taylor Fravel, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and director, Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“A sweeping landscape of war and conflict in contemporary India, A Military History of India since 1972 is a must-read for those who believe that India will be a leading power in the twenty-first century.”
—Admiral (Ret.) James G. Stavridis, US Navy, Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, 2009—2013
“Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam, a career Indian Air Force fighter pilot and accomplished scholar of international security affairs, has followed his earlier magisterial India’s Wars: A Military History 1947–1971 with this sweeping and richly-documented sequel that expands on India’s continued combat experiences as the country has steadily matured into an emerging 21st-century heavyweight. Along the way, his riveting account reads almost like a war novel at times as it inserts the reader directly into the flow of often fast-paced events and explores the steady gains that have been registered throughout the past four decades in the ever closer and more synergistic integration among India’s three uniformed services. In a commendably balanced and fair-minded way, he offers an informed appreciation of their experiences under the varying stresses of combat across the conflict spectrum—all conveyed with a degree of intimate familiarity with the relevant political, strategic, and tactical-level details that only a warrior-scholar of his background and upbringing can capture with such authority.”
—Benjamin S. Lambeth, nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and author of Airpower in the War against ISIS
“A Military History of India since 1972 is a well-written and well researched book that provides excellent critical insights into the Indian military and its role in Southeast Asian security.”
—James S. Corum, coauthor of Airpower in Small Wars: Fighting Insurgents and TerroristsSee fewer reviews...
Arjun Subramaniam enlivens the narrative with a practitioner’s insights amplified by interviews and conversations with almost a hundred serving and retired officers, including former chiefs from all three armed forces, for an in-depth exploration of land, air, and naval operations. The structure of the book offers readers a choice of either embarking on a comprehensive and chronological examination of war and conflict in contemporary India or a selective reading based on specific time lines or campaigns.