Representational image of an army convoy moving towards Ladakh | File photo: ANI
Representational image of an army convoy moving towards Ladakh | File photo: ANI
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New Delhi: Amid the continuing stalemate with China in eastern Ladakh, and with the proposal for Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) yet to come into effect, the Army is looking to keep two strike corps for the mountains facing China as part of a larger restructuring plan, ThePrint has learnt.

Defence sources said two existing strike corps — I Corps and 17 Corps — will be slightly restructured to focus on the northern and eastern theatres respectively, to tackle any threat from China. The restructuring is likely to be implemented by this month.

ThePrint reached the Army for an official comment via email, but it said details and implications of force structures cannot be shared.


Also read: Ladakh’s ‘Fire & Fury’ corps gets new commander in Lt Gen PGK Menon amid China tensions


Current structure and realignment

The Army currently has four strike corps — the Mathura-based I Corps, the Ambala-based II corps, the Bhopal-based 21 Corps and the partially-raised 17 Corps. The primary role of a strike corps is offensive trans-border action against an adversary.

A defence source said the I Corps, which was earlier responsible only for the western theatre bordering Pakistan, is now being realigned to also look at the northern theatre.

“Similarly, the Panagarh-based 17 Corps, which is the only existing mountain strike corps, will keep its focus only the eastern theatre,” the source said.

The eastern sector broadly covers Sikkim and Northeastern states’ borders with China. The northern sector broadly covers areas of Ladakh and J&K, while the central sector covers the areas south of eastern Ladakh and the borders that Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand share with China.

Currently, the I, II and 21 Corps focus on the western border facing Pakistan, while only the 17 Corps focuses on China. The 17 Corps, sanctioned in 2013, was supposed to have two divisions instead of the regular three, but only the 59 Division now based in Panagarh was raised — the other was among the raisings shelved due to financial constraints. Earlier this year, some elements of the 17 Corps had also been deployed in eastern Ladakh.

The sources said the plan is to get the I Corps to also focus on the northern theatre with two infantry divisions. An armoured division, earlier part of the corps, is likely to be employed as an Army headquarters reserve focusing on the western theatre.

The 17 Corps, meanwhile, will be given an additional division from an existing corps to enhance its capability and focus on the eastern theatre. This will not be a fresh raising, and it is not clear where this division will be based.

The 17 Corps debuted last year in a massive exercise called ‘HimVijay’, which also saw the IBGs concept in action. ThePrint had earlier reported that there are also plans for the 17 Corps to get its own artillery brigade.

Last year, Army chief General M.M. Naravane had said it is expecting a green light from the Union government to set up the first of the IBGs — self-contained, agile, brigade-sized fighting units — at 9 Corps, which is deployed at the western border with Pakistan. However, the plans got delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A division for central sector too

Sources said the Army is also planning to realign a division from an existing corps to focus exclusively on the central sector with China. This division is likely to be under the central command and will focus on the central theatre, thereby strengthening the offensive options in case of any protracted conflict with China.

“The western theatre is being reorganised in such a way that two strike corps continue to focus on that front with adequate support from the existing holding corps (those deployed for defensive options) to retain the offensive options against Pakistan,” a second defence source said.

The M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzers — meant for mountainous terrains — will be handed over to the artillery regiments allotted to these formations facing China.

Asked about the need for the restructuring, the source quoted above said the decision is especially critical given that the stalemate with China continues in eastern Ladakh, and talks have been unable to break the impasse.

“After the restructuring comes into place, troops will train according to the new operational tasks and be prepared for contingencies in the mountains in any sector,” the source said.


Also read: China miscalculated India resolve, needs exit strategy now, says former Ladakh corps commander


 

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VIEW COMMENTS

9 COMMENTS

  1. Ghanta govt….After China grabbed thousand acres of land in Ladakh what modi did ??? Lolz ..Photoshoot with new shit wears and whole country is suffering coz of these Shit heads

  2. Media should not divulge armed forces movement or any plans in media . These should be confidential matters.

  3. Print is new emerging media journalism it’s a great time,to have true journalism ,now days journalism media like wire NDTV has started adopting style of private thinkers ,columnist article writer makes worried to readers that they find more criticisms, stale thoughts of purchase writers , always found worst style n anti socity ,readers passionately waiting for truths,n facts of news not independent thoughts, present published narratives by print media is very much acceptable , which has focus on facts later blended in narration, it’s a nice way to reach up to readers truly exceptional,

  4. I donot understand, why media has to divulge so much of information on the internet. Let the plans of Army be known to only authorized personnels

  5. Amrita, make sure you havent got I and II Corps mixed up! I am not up on the latest, but 1 Armored Div AFAIK is II Corps. II Corps already sent 14 Div to XVII Mtn Strike corps, If I armd Div goes to Army HQ Reserve, the II Corps HQ and one division are free to shift to the mountains. Let me know if I’m wrong. rikhye1@hotmail.com.

    Ravi

  6. Today we are Struggling Hard to SECURE OUR BORDERS DUE TO PAST NEGLIGENCE.
    Sudden Surge In Deffence Expenses Along with CORONAVIRUS HEALTH PROBLEMS INTERNALLY are Causing Avery Heavy FINANCIAL BURDEN ON OUR EXCHEQUER.
    BUT ! We have NO ESCAPE FROM THE PRESENT CRISIS.

    At THIS NEED OF THE HOUR we ALL SHOULD UNITEDLY STRIVE HARD IN SUPPORT OF OUR GOVENMENT AND DEFENCE FORCES As we STUD IN THE YEAR 1965 INDO – PAK WAR and Do ALL THAT IS BEST FOR THE FAST GROWTH OF OUR ECONOMICAL STABILITY .

    COME ON LET US HONESTLY CONTRIBUTE OUR BEST POSSIBLE EFFORTS TO PROTECT OUR MOTHER LAND .

    With Best Wishes For Betterment Always ,

    Yours sincerely ,
    SHIVA KUMAR .T.N.

  7. Why is military deployment plan being written about in a newspaper article. Is it relevant to a common man. Unnecessary discussion of a relatively confidential matter in public space.

  8. Army can call up reserves from retired personnel. That will give strength of at least one corps. Then slowly build up the two strike corps.

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