Wary of China’s defence modernisation and infrastructure building in the Tibet Autonomous region, India will be raising a new formidable corps-sized formation of 30,000 infantry in the 13th Five Year plan period that ends in 2022.
This new infantry force will be over and above the new Mountain Strike Corps with nearly 40,000 soldiers that India will raise, to act as a counter to China, in the northeastern region.
Defence Minister A K Antony revealed the raising of the force when he told Parliament this week that “30 infantry battalions are proposed to be raised in the 13th Five Year plan towards enhancing combat capacity” of the 11.3-lakh-strong Indian Army.
This novel proposal is part of the Indian Army’ s Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) that was given a “in principle” approval by the Antony-headed Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in April 2012.
Along with the raising of the 30 infantry battalions, the government also proposes to provide for enhancing their mobility by introducing superior vehicles with better cross country mobility.
The Army’s mountain strike corps proposal for the 12th plan period, which awaits the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approval, is apart from the two independent infantry brigades and armoured brigades that are being raised to plug the operational gaps along the 4,057-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) and for building offensive capabilities against the giant neighbouring nation’ s powerful military.
While creating the new Mountain Strike Corps is likely to cost the government close to Rs 62,000 crore spread over the 2012-17 12th Five Year period, the expenditure could spill over into the 2017-22 13th Five Year period too, when an additional `19,000 crore could be provided.
The raising of the 30 infantry battalions in the 13th five-year period could cost an equal amount, Defence Ministry officials said.
The mountain strike corps proposal has already been tweaked and approved by the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), which is at present headed by Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne and has Army chief General Bikram Singh and Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi as members. The CoSC had been tasked to take a fresh look at the proposal by the Defence Ministry.
The mountain strike corps proposal—envisaging two special high-altitude rapid reaction divisions for the mountains—now has to pass muster at the Defence Ministry and the Finance Ministry, before going to the CCS. Once raised, the mountain strike corps will be headquartered at Panagarh in West Bengal.
The government has already given its clearance to the overall major force accretion plan of the Indian armed forces that will focus on the northern borders with both China and Pakistan.
The Army has already raised two new infantry divisions comprising 1,260 officers and 35,000 troopers at Lekhapani and Missamari in India’s North-east between 2009-10, which have been tasked with the defence of Arunachal Pradesh, the whole of which is claimed by China.
China already has an extensive rail and road network and five air bases in Tibet with which it could easily mobilise 30 divisions of 15,000 soldiers each to its borders with India in case of a conflict.
The Sunday Standard