The Indian Army’s Northern Command is deployed in and responsible for the security of India’s borders with China and Pakistan in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Northern Command with its headquarters located in Udhampur has three major formations viz the Leh based XIV Corps responsible for the Ladakh region including Kargil- Dras and Siachen Glacier, the Srinagar based XV Corps looking after the sensitive borders of the Kashmir region and XVI Corps located in Nagrota responsible for the Jammu region.
Prior to independence, the Northern Command, with its headquarters at Rawalpindi was a formation of the British Indian Army from 1895 to 1942, and then from 1945 to 1947. North Western Army was formed from Northern Command in April 1942, to guard the North West Frontier which include the districts of Kohat, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Baluchistan and Waziristan. North Western Army reverted to the title Northern Command in November 1945. Lieutenant-General Sir Frank Messervy, KBE. C.B., DSO. IA was appointed as GOC.-in-C. Northern Command, India, 15th Oct 1946. In 1947, Headquarters Northern Command became the new headquarters of the Pakistan Army while Messervy continued to serve as Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army.
On allocation of Northern Command Headquarters to Pakistan at the time of partition, a new Headquarters, designated as Western Command, located at Simla was designated to oversee the defence of our Western and Northern borders with Pakistan and parts of Tibet.
The need for a separate Headquarters in the North was felt as far back as the 1948 War. The cumulative experience of 1962, 1965 and 1971 Wars reinforced this conviction as geo-strategically the Northern Theatre was too important to be effectively commanded by a Headquarters based as far away as Simla. It was therefore decided in June 1972 to raise Headquarters Northern Command at Udhampur. Its first General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C) was Lt Gen PS Bhagat, VC, PVSM.The present GOC in C , Lt Gen KT Parnaik, PVSM, UYSM, YSM took over the Command in January 2011.
Northern Command has been in the operational mode since its very inception, having seen a large number of high and low intensity operations. Today, Northern Command is at the forefront of the Nation’s efforts to counter the most serious challenge to her security, the scourge of terrorism and the vicious Proxy War in J&K. Thus, whether officially at peace or in operations, troops of the Command have been “ALWAYS IN COMBAT”.
The troops of the Command are deployed on Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, where the average altitude of posts varies from 15,000 to 23,000 ft. The troops must contend not just with the enemy but, more so, with treacherous sub-zero, weather conditions, extreme wind chill, deep crevasses and the ever present danger of avalanches. Ever since their deployment in 1984, our soldiers have gained tremendous experience in these ‘white-out’ operations, having beaten back numerous attempts by the enemy and dislodging them from these serrated ridge lines and peaks. Today, Siachen (which means “wild rose” in the local language) has become synonymous with the extremes of human endurance, courage and fortitude against great odds.
Operation VIJAY, fought on the formidable heights of Kargil in 1999, is possibly Northern Command’s ‘finest hour’. The bloody battle fought yard by yard to evict the intruders comprising regular troops of Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry who in the guise of terrorists, had surreptitiously occupied vacant heights in Indian territory overlooking the Leh-Srinagar Highway. It was a unique operation of unparalleled bravery, guts, determination and sacrifice beyond the call of duty.
Of no less significance has been the crucial role of Northern Command in stemming the Pakistan sponsored Proxy since 1990. In March 2003, Northern Command undertook the herculean task of fencing the Line of Control in 15 and 16 Corps Zones to check terrorist infiltration/ex-filtration, completing the fence by Sep 2004. The renewed three-pronged strategy of strong counter-infiltration posture along the Line of Control, intense counter-terrorist operations in the hinterland and people-friendly Operation Sadbhavana has yielded momentous results. Over twenty one thousand terrorists have been killed, and over forty thousand weapons recovered by troops of the Command who have exhibited highest devotion to duty and sense of sacrifice over the years.
The Indian Northern Command is committed to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country in the State of Jammu and Kashmir by checkmating the menace of terrorism unleashed by forces inimical to our nation as it continues its efforts to facilitate return of peace and tranquility in J&K and restoring its fame of being a ‘paradise on earth’.The Northern Command War Memorial DHRUVA or Northern Star is a symbol of gallantry and sacrifice of its brave soldiers. It serves as a beacon of guiding light, motivating soldiers to strive for greater glory and to be prepared for the ultimate sacrifice if the need arises The names of more than 9000 martyrs etched in golden letters on the black marble stones of the memorial bear testimony to a saga of unparalleled courage, grit and valour of those who made the supreme sacrifice in defending the nation’s sovereignty, while fighting in Jammu and Kashmir. Names of gallant pilots who lost their lives in operations are also included in this magnificent memorial.