Context: As tensions between India and China remain high on the disputed border especially near Pangong Lake and Galwan valley in Ladakh, a need arises for revamping the status of mountain corps .
- It was sanctioned seven years ago but stalled two years ago for lack of funds.
- With only one of its two divisions raised, it now exists in a truncated shape as a testing unit of Army’s new integrated battle group (IBG) concept.
About Mountain Strike Corps:
- The XVII Corps of the Indian army is the first mountain strike corps of India and are also called as Brahmastra Corps.
- It was sanctioned as a quick reaction force as well as a counter offensive force against China along LAC (Line of Actual Control).
- The first division of the mountain strike corps was raised in the eastern sector at Panagarh in Bengal but the raising of the second division at Pathankot in 2017-18 was never completed.
- Apart from being a swift offensive force, it also acted as a strong deterrent against Chinese intrusions.
- Limitations for Mountain Corps:
- Funds: Paucity impeded their expansion as their initial deployment was out of normal army budget which adversely impacted army’s War Wastage Reserves (WWR)
- WWR are collections of military material and ammunition with the Army that can sustain a 40-day intense war.
- Border Infrastructure: The current level doesn’t support effective deployment of a full fledged strike corps
The recent death of 20 soldiers along LAC in Ladakh calls for augmenting the deployment of such corps in the difficult terrain areas so that the Chinese can’t intrude easily into Indian territory.
Integrated Battle Groups:
- They are brigade-sized agile self-sufficient combat formations which can swiftly launch strikes against adversaries.
- Each Integrated Battle Group(IBG) would be tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain, and Task.
- Indian Army recently carried out the “Him Vijay” exercise in Arunachal Pradesh primarily to test the effectiveness of the IBGs in mountain combat exercise.
- Each IBG will be headed by a Major General and comprise around 5,000 troops.
- IBG comprises a mix of infantry, artillery, air defence, tanks and logistics units.
- Ensure better integration and self-sufficiency as compared to existing formations, allowing it to strike harder and quicker across the border.
- With this mobilization of troops would be possible within 12-48 hours based on the location.
- Acts as a deterrence against Chinese and Pakistan’s intrusion.
- Integration will help in synergising the strength of different units into one, thereby improving war fighting capability.
Image Source: The Print