New Delhi: Fighting terror and insurgency is a priority for the Army presently, but conventional wars remain the long term threat and the force is preparing for that, Army chief General M.M. Naravane said Saturday.
During his maiden media address ahead of the 72nd Army Day on 15 January, Naravane said Army will continue to be involved in CI and counter terrorism (CT) operations in the near future but without losing sight of its long term goal.
“The short term requirement of getting involved in counter insurgency and counter terrorism (CT) operations will remain for the foreseeable future,” he said, highlighting the role of the Rashtriya Rifles battalions and Assam Rifles battalions in handling these operations.
A significant strength of the 63 Rashtriya Rifles battalions and 46 Assam Rifles battalions are involved in CI and CT operations, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. Due to this, questions have often been raised on whether the Army is deviating from its core role of warfighting.
The regular Army is training for its primary role, which is conventional warfare, said Naravane.
He also highlighted the various acquisitions being made by the Army for conventional warfare, such as towed gun systems and Ultra Light Howitzers as well as equipment in the Electronic Warfare domain.
‘Expecting green signal soon for IBGs’
During his address, General M.M. Naravane also said the Army is expecting a green signal from the Union government soon to set up the first of the Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) at 9 Corps which is deployed at the western border with Pakistan.
The IBGs are self-contained, agile, brigade-sized fighting units, meant for faster punitive and defensive operations. They were proposed in one of four studies initiated by former Army chief General Bipin Rawat on the overall restructuring of the force.
The concept was first test-bedded at the 9 Corps, following which another IBG-styled exercise was carried out by the Mountain Strike Corps in Arunachal Pradesh — a development that had upset China, according to reports.
Some critical gaps were observed during the experiments, ThePrint has earlier reported.
Naravane said the Army has made a final proposal to the government about the 9 Corps.
“The draft GSL (government sanction letter) has been prepared and has been sent to the government for approval. We are very hopeful that it will come sooner than later,” he said, adding there isn’t much that can be changed from the proposal sent.
“There would be certain clarifications, especially regarding the revised staffing norms, not regarding the technical or operational aspects of IBG,” he said.
Naravane also said war establishments of all units will undergo a change to cater to either an increase or decrease in the number of manpower, arms, ammunition and equipment.
“The revision of war establishments will possibly take years,” he said.
The IBGs are meant to perform both offensive roles, involving cross-border operations, and defensive roles to withstand an enemy attack.
Each IBG will be headed by a major general. The integrated units for the border will be all-encompassing, with artillery, armoured, combat engineers and signal units.