NEW DELHI: Indian Army’s bid to introduce the biggest change in combat formations on the ground with the creation of a lean set-up of the Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) – which will have the capability to hit the enemy fast and hard – is facing inertia and the whole process has got delayed. Army sources confirmed the process has been delayed and it will take more time as the scheduled meetings are not taking place after the death of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
These battle groups might be raised close to the formation of the theatre commands, the sources said. The plan was to raise at least two IBGs by the end of 2021. Earlier, meetings led by the Army’s Military Operations wing had taken place to complete the process.
This newspaper had earlier reported that the differences between Army, Navy and Air Force and the death of CDS Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash in December last year have prolonged the theaterisation exercise. The formation of theatre commands is aimed to integrate the entire Indian military to fight future wars jointly under one theatre commander.
The IBGs will be self-contained fighting formations with the elements of every arm and service mixed together as per the terrain and operational requirements. In case of hostilities, they can swiftly strike against the enemies. Each IBG will be tailor-made and will be based on the three Ts – threat, terrain, and task.
The forces reassigned and reconstituted as the IBGs would be smaller but swifter with greater combat thrust. They will be bigger than a brigade (3,000-3,500) but smaller than a division (10,000-12,000). In the first go, of the two IBGs planned, one is coming up under the 9 Corps mandated to operate on the western borders with Pakistan. The other one is being raised under the 17 Corps raised as the sole strike Corps to operate along the northern borders with China.
More formations will be approved once the first set is raised as the ambition is to do away with the Division Headquarters which function under the Corps and remove one complete layer from the organisational setup.
Work on the formation of the IBGs in the started after major deliberations and initiation of the biggest restructuring of its headquarters. Four studies on various aspects were initiated in mid-2018 which were finalised by December end.
Boost to battle power
Each Integrated Battle Group will have troop strength of around 5,000, bigger than a Brigade (3000-3,500) but smaller than a Division (10,000-12,000)
These will have a mix of every arm and service like Infantry, Artillery, Armoured Corps, Engineers Corps, Signals, Air Defence and others