Crisis and Crossfire: The United States and the Middle East since 1945 by ProQuest

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									of all-around knowledge about the capabilities of     written, and effectively illustrated with good
airpower on the part of both politicians and          maps. The role of the IAF in peacekeeping mis-
ground commanders. The author devotes much            sions has been highlighted only in recent years,
space to jointness in the various conflicts that      and the author reinforces this with some ex-
India has fought. How many of us knew that in         tremely interesting extracts from his brother’s
May 1948, when Air Commodore Mehar Singh              diary that describe the peace-enforcement mis-
made his historic landing at Leh in a Dakota (a       sion in the Congo during 1961, when IAF Can-
DC-3, in common US parlance), Maj Gen K. S.           berras performed magnificently. The last few
Thimayya—then a divisional commander—was              chapters offer some extremely good ideas on
on board, along with his troops, in a display of      lessons from the past, our desire for self-reliance,
brave jointness? That Pakistan launched a pre-        and airpower’s coming of age in the 1990s. A
emptive air strike in 1965 is common knowl-           passionate believer in the strategic capabilities of
edge. Until this book came out, however, it was       airpower, Air Commodore Jasjit spares no effort
also widely accepted (even by our own Ministry        in suggesting doctrinal changes that would en-
of Defence archives) that beyond an air stale-        able the IAF to cope with the challenges of fu-
mate, the IAF did not dent the Pakistani Air          ture warfare. He is also quite critical about the
Force’s (PAF) capability. Armed with telling sta-     lack of understanding of airpower and its capa-
tistics, Air Commodore Jasjit has embarked on a       bilities on the part of politicians through the
spirited rebuttal of the common perception that       years and counters the myth that only airpower
the PAF emerged as a victor in the 1965 air war.      is escalatory. In fact, airpower de-escalated the
The fact of the matter is that the bulk of IAF        situation during the Kargil conflict.
losses occurred as a result of the opening days’          I wish that the author had thrown some light
preemptive strikes on both the western and east-      on the Karachi air strikes of 1971, as it may have
ern theaters in the form of aircraft parked on the    put to rest the ongoing debate over who hit Karachi
ground. A comparison of aerial losses thereafter      first—the IAF or the Indian Navy. The expand-
shows that the IAF suffered much lower attrition      ing role of airpower in subconventional warfare
than did the PAF. So much for perceptions. The        also would have added value to the doctrinal sec-
author is very candid about the total lack of syn-    tion. The layout of the book, which features ex-
ergy between the IAF and the Indian Army dur-         cellent photographs, is aesthetic and appealing.
ing the 1965 war, attributing it to a mind-set that   Unfortunately, the stiff price tag will make it
looked at the IAF as merely a tactical air force—a    primarily a library acquisition. A paperback edi-
holdover of World War II. Shifting to analysis        tion, however, would find its place at the bedside
assessment, did anyone realize that the Israeli       of every discerning airpower enthusiast. All in
Air Force drew a page out of the PAF’s tactics        all, Defence from the Skies is a superb book and a
and launched its stunning preemptive strike in        must-read for anyone who wants to enrich his or
1967, decimating the Arab air forces before they      her knowledge about the IAF in particular and

								
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