A former army General who planned the 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PoK, Friday said special forces were training for the strike almost a year before the Uri terror attack.
Recalling the Uri terror attack, Hooda said, "That evening, I was there with the Chief of Army Staff and we were walking through four inches thick ash from burnt tents."
"And we were saying that we have to do something, we cannot just let this pass. When we were talking of options, what helped us was that, for the past one year, we had been training for such a contingency. We did not know whether it would come," he said.
"For the past one year (before Uri attack), special forces were preparing...that if we had to do a cross-border raid in Pakistan, how exactly we would do it," Hooda said.
"When you see soldiers who go across the border and carry out raids on terrorist camps and come back, it is because all through their lives, they have worked and worked and worked," he said.
"In the Army, we have a saying. The more you sweat in peace, the less you will bleed in war," he said.
"It (surgical strike) cannot be a small operation and it had to be done on a scale so 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 most heavily guarded borders in the world. So we had to go across, get into the depth where their terror camps are, hit them and return," he said.
Hooda said the Army was "very confident" as special forces are 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 from advice or seeking correct advice, that's where you can go wrong," he said.
Hooda said each target had to be hit at a different time.
"On the night of (September) 27th (two days before the surgical strike), we got some information across from Pakistan that one of the terror camps had got reinforced. We were wondering whether we should go ahead with this target," he said.
"Then we decided we should send a small team of four to five people 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," Hooda said.
"The first target was hit around midnight. The last target was hit at 6 in the morning. There was a six hour difference. We were obviously worried that once the first target was hit, the Pakistan army would become active and be careful that other targets might be hit," he said.
"Fortunately, we did surprise them," he added.
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