The instant order to stop ‘new raisings’ – create battalions with fresh recruits – has been prompted by financial constraints.

New Delhi: The Army has decided to shelve all new raisings for a China-specific Mountain Strike Corps due to financial constraints, an official source told The Print Thursday.

The decision effectively puts the corps, as envisaged, in cold storage.

The decision comes five years after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the creation of practically a whole new army with 90,000 troops at a cost of Rs 60,000 crore.

The decision also comes a year after Indian and Chinese troops faced-off at Doklam in Bhutan near the point where the international boundaries of the three countries intersect.

But at the end of April this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping met at an “informal summit” in Wuhan and decided to reduce tensions on the frontier and craft new confidence building measures.

The instant order to stop “new raisings” – create battalions with fresh recruits – has, however, been prompted by financial constraints, one official said.

“The next big thing for us is a drive towards ‘optimisation’ of resources, do the best with what we have. You will hear this word (optimisation) a lot from now on. What is the point in recruiting new soldiers if we cannot give them guns and bullets?” the official said.

The CCS approved the raising of the corps in 2013 when A.K. Antony was the defence minister in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet. It was an idea that was in the works for years.

One officer offered a perspective to The Print Thursday that raises questions on the rationale of new raisings.

He said a cabal of the officer cadre was interested in the formation of the MSC because of the lure of more offices in higher ranks of Brigadiers, Major-Generals and Lieutenant-Generals that would be created. Such an argument pre-supposes that operational logic may have been subsumed by careerist considerations.

The Mountain Strike Corps or 17 Corps is headquartered in Ranchi with divisions headquartered in Panagarh, West Bengal, (59 mountain) and Pathankot (72 mountain), Punjab. Aviation, artillery, armoured brigades were to be integrated into the corps that was planned with entirely new raisings of nearly 30 mountain infantry battalions. In addition, it was also to be reinforced with teams of high-altitude special forces.

Focus on ‘Optimisation’

The order to stop new raisings by Army headquarters coincides with a study that is being conducted by the Shimla-headquartered Army Training Command (ARTRAC) headed by Lt. Gen. M.M. Naravane.

Naravane has been asked to submit a report by the end of this year with suggestions for “optimisation” – utilisation of troops and equipment without raising costs.

The study will examine whether it is necessary to carry on annual recruitments at all centres to fill all the spaces created by total annual retirements. About 35-40,000 soldiers retire from the 1.3 million strong Army each year. The total number of recruits vary from region to region as it depends on the number of vacancies in each regiment and arm.

The raising of the Mountain Strike Corps meant that the Army was adding to its manpower when many (mostly Western) countries are reducing theirs. Units for the mountain strike corps have already been raised in the Northeast. Since the past year, a lazy focus was on staffing the planned Pathankot division but the sense of the funds crunch was already seeping in.

The 17 Corps was also being armed with BAE Land System’s M777 ultra-light howitzers imported from the US. The howitzers can be underslung from heavy helicopters (Chinooks from the US are contracted) for transporting in the mountains.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Very poor decision. A corps would lead to creation of only 01 post for Lt General and max 3 post of Major General, that too from the already existing pool of officers. Even there was no proposal of additional recruitment of jawans. Every one aware about MSC knows this. Obviously the reporter and THE PRINT has not done the homework. After great difficulty, forces were able to get sanction for MSC. Pity that present Govt under the garb of Army study has shelved the proposal. Coming Generations will pay for this folly.

    • Very rightly said bro…adding to that, I think current govt (as proved poor in foreign relations) trying to make China happy & prove their legacy but not thinking of China’s true nature. It’s not what we expect from Sir NM.

    • The Indian military is like an obese buffalo – its left hand doesnt know what the right hand is doing – it is totally outdated and built to fight ancient land battles that are no longer the future. The fact that the Indian Army has more golf courses than helicopters is proof of this British Raj style mentality in the Army. The Army’s “quarters” and sundry expenses are more than training expenses and on average Jawans spend more time cutting grass, painting railings and polishing signboards is another sign of a bloated institution that is collapsing under its own weight. Finally the Govt has said “no more money” to this obese beast. The Indian military needs to be dramatically restructured – first and foremost should be the elimination of 14 commands of various forces to build unified commands like the Chinese. The total mismatch between Army ranks and air force ranks and navy ranks makes interoperatability impossible. And instead of focussing on this we have Army Generals becoming jelous of the salary of IAS officers and IFS officers. Its a big joke.

  2. It would do well to remember that if we don’t plan and prepare for all contingencies then we will suffer at leisure. Quoting western countries of the cuff shows a severe lack of understanding. If one wants to reduce spending on security then please ensure your neighbours are friendly. We live in one of the most difficult neighborhoods and we have government which is blind. It’s easy to cut the budget of your forces. You have ensured a pliant spineless generalising but remember your soldiers will be slaughtered like pigs in any war 5 to 10years hence. PM Modi you will be responsible for that, not Jaitley nor Seetharam.

  3. A lame decision, shelving it as potatoes in cold storage only asserts that in years to come we will have to learn mandrin. The shithead politicians need to be fed from gutters.

  4. Is this because of demonetisation or GST slowing down the Indian economy because when we planned it we clearly had enough expectations of growth?

    What suddenly went wrong?

    • Looks like that is the reason. However, i wonder where has the windfall income from GST and Tax on Expensive petrol/diesel gone?

  5. May be a threat from China pulling out the funding it has done in the form of Angel-funding to companies like PayTm which indirectly affects funding for 2019 General Elections.

  6. Very rightly said bro…adding to that, I think current govt (as proved poor in foreign relations) trying to make China happy & prove their legacy but not thinking of China’s true nature. It’s not what we expect from Sir NM.

  7. So much for the World’s sixth largest economy. Modi-Jaitley Sarkar is busy battling the inflation it created by giving fat incrmements in pay and perks to the least productive and most corrupt sections of the economy. Babus; 35%, Netas : 100% and Milards : 200%

  8. It is a sad trivialisation of an operationally significant formation to assume that it was to get a few more additional posts at senior level. Whosoever assumed this is wrong. It is a ‘defensive formation’ despite the misleading name (strike.) and is necessary to achieve favourable force ratios at LAC, when there is an overall force asymmetryy. Shelving it should not be an option. Changing from accretion to optimisation is definitely an option, of which the current army leadership is the best judge.

  9. Misinformation being created to say the idea of raising MSC was to have more number of senior posts for the benefit of a few. A myopic view probably of a man who has no head and aimed at to create confusion in the uniformed circle

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