Raising New Formations
The proposal of a new corps, including two independent infantry and two armoured brigades, would together cost around ` 81,000 crore, spread primarily over the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) period, with some spill over into the Thirteenth Plan
AMOUNTAIN STRIKE CORPS (MSC) for the eastern theatre has been in the news now for some time. The Cabinet approval for the same was reported some time ago. The latest reference about this strike corps was made in the first and second week of February 2013 when it was mentioned that apart from the strike corps for the mountains, the Army also desired to raise two independent infantry brigades and two independent armoured brigades.
It seems that the proposal was first mooted in 2010 and given in-principle clearance by the government in 2011.The plan involved recruiting of over 80,000 soldiers and nearly 500 officers to man the strike corps, an offensive formation, to counter China’s growing capabilities across the border in Tibet. It was then estimated that the new corps would cost about
65,000 crore. India has no strike corps for the mountains whereas for the western border, India has three strike corps, which are trained and equipped for offensive operations against Pakistan, in plains, semi-desert and desert terrain. The headquarters of these three strike corps are located at Mathura, Ambala and Bhopal respectively, with the formations spread in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
It was also reported in the media that the raising of the new formations, including two independent infantry and two armoured brigades would together cost about 81,000 crore, spread primarily over the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) period, with some spill over into the Thirteenth Plan.
The Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) initially had raised their objections to such huge investments. The PMO had sent back the proposal to the Defence Ministry and had asked for a comprehensive joint proposal. The Chiefs of Staff Committee had tasked the Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff to come up with a revised draft for the mountain strike corps which seems to have now been approved. The proposal has now been given a final shape. This includes the raising of the corps which implies raising of three more infantry divisions (20,000 soldiers each), complete with tactical airlift capability and armed with necessary armoured regiments and artillery components. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has also projected its requirement in this plan. It includes deployment of the C-130J Hercules aircraft meant for special operations like para-dropping.
It has been reported in the media that the MSC is to be located in the eastern theatre, with its headquarters at Panagarh. The independent infantry and armoured brigades would have multiple contingencies for employment in Ladakh and in the eastern theatre.