In 1988, the Indian Army and Air Force, ably supported by the Indian Navy, carried out a daring intervention in the Maldives. The government of the Maldives, led by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, facing an attempted coup by PLOTE, a renegade group of Tamil insurgents from Sri Lanka, sent out a request for help, to which India responded. Operation Cactus details this, India’s most ambitious out of area intervention to date. The book describes the history, economy, demography and politics of the Maldives with an emphasis on the government of the day and the strategic value of the islands to PLOTE as well as the geopolitical ramifications for India in respect to the need to secure its influence in the area. Operation Cactus details the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force of the 1980s, with particular emphasis on elements that could be used in out of area interventions and the transport assets of the Indian Air Force and the amphibious capabilities of the Indian Navy. The Maldives National Security Service of 1988 is also discussed and its evolution into the Maldives National Defence Force in the aftermath of the 1988 coup. The PLOTE attempt to overthrow the Gayoom government and the resistance it faced from the NSS, along with Operation Cactus itself are described in detail, along with the intervention by India, including operational planning, mobilisation of forces and the force levels committed. The actual landing in the Maldives, the paucity of intelligence and the force selection are detailed along with the confrontation with PLOTE and the latter’s desperate attempt to escape by sea and the Indian Navy’s counter to this. Operation Cactus includes original colour artworks of the aircraft and troops involved in this unique intervention.
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