NEW DELHI, March 19 � India had grossly underestimated the threat from China in the run-up to the aggression in NEFA Frontier in 1962, as confusion within various agencies led to gross underestimation of the build-up across the McMahon Line.
The Henderson Brooks Report said that it was considered, the Chinese in 1960 would not be in a position to launch a major offensive. They would engage in consolidating their hold over Tibet and opening communication.
The report said that a three-tier system of defence was visualised in NEFA. The planning at all levels, therefore, continues to be against three divisions that the Chinese could easily bring against NEFA.
This was time and again confirmed by various members of the General Staff, from the Chief of General Staff downwards during their tours of NEFA during 1961-1962.
In fact, they ridiculed as alarmist any suggestion of a great force being brought against NEFA. The Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) as late as August 1961, openly declared at Fourth Infantry Division HQs that the Chinese could not react and were in no position to fight.
�The psychologically and otherwise, preparation for meeting a major threat was never really undertaken,� Lt General Henderson Brooks, who was tasked to go into the debacle, observed.
In 1961, little note was taken of the major build-up of the Chinese against NEFA. On the other hand, a brigade was taken away from NEFA to Nagaland � a process reverse to what was planned earlier, Henderson Brooks remarked.
The report further referred to lack of credible intelligence about troop build-up from the Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence.
It was therefore all the more necessary in 1961 to have noted with caution and avoided any provocative action. Instead, the forward policy was introduced, the report said.
The report said that on the eve of the start of the hostilities as well, tension was building up in NEFA. Dhola Post had been surrounded on September 6, 1962 and a number of firing incidents had taken place.
On the other hand, the Defence Ministry held a meeting on September 22, 1962 to review the border situation. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) considered that any action by India in Dhola area might well result in Chinese retaliation in Ladakh. The Foreign Secretary was of the opinion that an operation for eviction of the Chinese from NEFA should be carried out even at the expense of losing some territory in Ladakh.
About the strategy adopted by India, the report said the overall task was to be carried out by having border outposts to control routes of entry into NEFA. The �Defence Line� ran from West to East � Tawang-Bomdila-Ziro-Daporizo-Along-Roing-Tezu-Lalitpur-Hayuliang.
About the creation of Four Corps, the report said that on October 4, 1962, 33rd Corps ceased to be responsible for NEFA and was replaced by IV Corps with Lt. General B M Kaul as Corps Commander.
The Four Corps was not yet raised. It was required to simultaneously form, function and conduct operations in NEFA. The changeover of Corps brought to an end, the unusual tug-of-war between Eastern Command and 33rd Corps.
The phase of pushing the 33rd Corps by Eastern Command to hasten the operations finally ended. Instead, a new phase had started where the new corps leaped into the operations without first considering the implications, the report said.