Bambolim: Lt Gen (retired) DS Hooda, who was the chief of the Northern Command of Indian Army in September 2016 during the surgical strike, said that Special Forces were preparing for Surgical Strike kind of contingency, one year before the Uri attack, but did not knew whether it would come.
Hooda was speaking in the session organised during ‘Goa Fest’, an annual event organised by Advertising bodies in the country, which is currently underway in Goa.
Recalling the day when Uri attack happened, he said “that evening I was there with the Chief of Army staff and we were walking through four inches thick ash of burnt tents. And we were saying that we have to do something, we cannot just let this pass by.”
“Then when we were talking of option, what helped us was that for the past one year we had been training for just this contingency. We did not know whether it would come. Past one year, special forces have been preparing, that if had to do cross border raid in Pakistan, how exactly we would do it,” he added.
Hooda said training and preparation is a constant process in the military.
“When you see the soldiers who go across the border and carry out raids in terrorist camps and come back, it is be cause through their lives they have worked and worked and worked,” he commented.
“In the Army, we have a saying that the more you sweat in peace, the less you will bleed in war. Because the amount of training and preparations that you do,” Hooda added.
Briefly speaking about the incidents related to Surgical Strike in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir which Hooda oversaw, he said that once Armed forces had decided after Uri that they need to do something.
“And that it cannot be a small operation and it has to be done on a scale that it gives out a very strong message to Pakistan,” he said.
“Therefore, we decided on five terror camp targets which were across the border. It was a hugely complex operation. It is one of the heaviest guarded border in the world. So we had to go across, get into the depth where their terror camps are, we had to hit them and we had to come back,” he recalled.
Hooda said that the Indian Army was “very confident.”
“Our special forces soldiers were extremely well trained. And to be fair, I relied a lot on their advice. It does get lonely at the top but if you shut yourself out from being adviced or seeking correct advice, that’s where you can go wrong,” he said.
Hooda said that each target had to be hit at different time.
“On the night of 27th (a day before strike), we got some information across from Pakistan that one of the terror camp, they had got reinforced. We were wondering whether we should go ahead with this target,” he said.
“Then we decided that we should send a small team of four to five people by their side and let them have a watch over the target. We decided to take the risk and it was worth it because they were the people who guided the next day,” he said giving details about the strike.
Hooda said that the first target was hit around 12 mid night.
“The last target was hit at 6 in the morning. There was about six hour difference. We were obviously worried that once the first target is hit, the Pakistan army would become active, they will get the information that be careful that other targets might be hit. Fortunately, we did surprise them,” he added.