'Friendly nation' supplied outdated satellite images during Kargil conflict: ex-Army chief

Former chief of the army staff Gen Ved Prakash Malik, who led the Indian Army in the 1999 Kargil conflict, on Tuesday said the satellite pictures of Tololing area supplied to the army during the Kargil conflict by a "friendly country" were three-four years old while the moving pictures provided by another nation eventually faded as the battery of the satellite was "about to get over".

During a discussion on his latest book, India's Military Conflicts and Diplomacy: An Inside view of Decision Making, Malik said, "We had no satellite pictures of the battlefield area during the Kargil conflict. A friendly country provided us the pictures at Rs 35,000- Rs 36,000 per frame. We got the pictures of Tololing area but realised they were three-four year old. Another country agreed to provide us moving satellite pictures of the battlefield.. after few days, the pictures faded and we were told that the battery of the satellite was about to die. The three chiefs of the Armed Forces made all the noises and even met ISRO chief Kasturirangan apprsing him of the need for our own images. He promised that in three years we will have the satellite and he delivered."

During the 90-minute discussion, Malik emphasised on the need to record decision-making process to learn from mistakes while documenting military history of the nation. He criticised the policy-making process in the country and described it as "fractured and segmented".

Narrating the role of military as an extension of the political and diplomatic mandate, Malik said, "On June 3, 1999 air chief and I sought cabinet approval to go a few miles on the other side of Line of Control (LoC), but the request was put down." While that was the mandate during the conflict, he highlighted military lacks "peacetime aim".

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