The Gestation of a New Indian Strike Corps

Indian newspapers have variants of this headline today: “India to create new Army corps along China border.” (For example, here and here.) And I think to myself, man, am I getting old? I swear I read this story like ten times now. So, I decided to go look. It might only be interesting to those that track Indian security issues closely, but I think glimpsing the news stories over the years on the new Indian strike corps gives you a little bit of a feel for the Indian bureaucratic process at work. It’s not pretty, but it’s not absurd either. A proposal is generated. It moves forward. Questions are asked. It goes backward. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. More after the jump for those that care.

“Sources told [the Times of India] that the defence ministry has proposed the setting up of a Mountain Strike Corps and two Independent Brigades along the China border. The proposed corps would be India’s fourth strike corps and the only one dedicated for offensive operations in mountainous terrain…. [A]uthoritative sources said the Cabinet Committee on Security is set to consider the proposal in the coming weeks.” (Times of India, July 2, 2010)

“Sources told [the Times of India] that the defence ministry has proposed the setting up of a Mountain Strike Corps and two Independent Brigades along the China border. The proposed corps would be India’s fourth strike corps and the only one dedicated for offensive operations in mountainous terrain…. [A]uthoritative sources said the Cabinet Committee on Security is set to consider the proposal in the coming weeks.” (Economic Times, August 28, 2010) [The article really was verbatim in Nexis, despite appearing months later.]

“The proposals include setting up of a Strategic Command, comprising of Army’s offensive capabilities…. The Strategic Command would also have a new addition, a proposed Mountain Strike Corps meant specifically for the China border. The proposal for country’s first mountain strike corps is presently awaiting approval of the cabinet committee on security.” (Times of India, January 13, 2011)

“The massive military modernisation along the China border, including the setting up of the country’s first Mountain Strike Corps, has run into a new hurdle with the government raising questions about the high capital expenditure involved in it. Sources said the defence ministry has returned the Army proposal to set up the strike corps, and two independent brigades along the China border.” (Times of India, August 26, 2011 [online])

“Authoritative sources told [Times of India] that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved a Rs 64,000-crore (approximately $13 billion ) military modernization plan that would include raising four new divisions along the India-China border. Two of these would be part of a Mountain Strike Corps dedicated to offensive operations. The plan also includes raising two independent brigades, one in Ladakh and the other in Uttarakhand…. Two weeks ago, MoD sent its plan to the finance ministry for scrutiny and approval, authoritative sources said. Once cleared, the proposal would be put up before the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval and financial sanction.” (Times of India, November 2, 2011 [online])

“The UPA government has sent back the army’s 2011 proposal for raising a new mountain strike corps at Pannagarh in West Bengal to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) this month in order to bring the navy and air force on board and broad base its military capability against China.” (Hindustan Times, July 15, 2012)

“In a shocking development, the Prime Ministers Office has scuttled a Defence Ministry move to raise a mountain strike corps of over 60,000 troops for deployment on border with China despite its approval last year by the Prime Minister-headed Cabinet Committee on Security.” (Free Press Journal, September 5, 2012)

“The Army has come up with a fresh proposal for the new mountain strike corps, apart from two ‘independent’ infantry brigades and two ‘independent’ armoured brigades, to plug operational gaps along the LAC (line of actual control) as well as to acquire ‘some offensive capabilities’ against China…. The proposal for the new corps — recently approved by the CoSC (chiefs of staff committee) comprising the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs — will of course have to be get the final nod from the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) after requisite wetting [sic] by the defence and finance ministries for it to be implemented. The plan to raise a new mountain corps, headquartered at Panagarh in West Bengal, is not new. Last year, the government had referred it to the CoSC for a rethink and fine-tuning, which has now been completed.” (Times of India, January 13, 2013)

“After much back and forth, the Defence Ministry has cleared setting up of a mountain strike corps along the China border, signalling its intent to press ahead with plans to strengthen offensive military capabilities despite recent calls from Beijing for a ‘new type’ of military relationship…. The proposal was first mooted in 2010 and given an in-principle go ahead by the Cabinet Committee on Security a year later, but was sent back last year with instructions for a re-look by all three services so that a common plan could be drawn up. It took the Chiefs of Staff Committee another six months to review the plan, which was also essential because the Army Chief had changed since the proposal was first moved.” (Indian Express, February 4, 2013)

“After [the] PLA’s incursion in Ladakh, the army is making fresh attempts to speed up the setting up of a new mountain strike corps, in an attempt to sharpen its combat edge in the country’s eastern sector…. The finance ministry is currently studying financial aspects and implications of raising the new offensive formation, which could cost upwards of R60,000 crore. The matter will then be sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval.” (Hindustan Times, May 14, 2013)

“The finance ministry is expected to soon approve the revised proposal of the Army to raise a mountain strike corps along the China border. Once the ministry’s approval comes through the Cabinet Committee on Security will give its nod, a senior source said. The ministry of defence (MoD) is not expecting any further objections from the finance ministry over the ambitious proposal to raise a dedicated offensive capability in the north-east border with China.” (Times of India, May 22, 2013)

“The Cabinet committee on security (CCS) could soon grant approval to the Army’s proposal to raise a mountain strike corps along the China border. The CCS approval would be given after the ministry of defence (MoD) gives its final clarification to certain questions raised by the finance ministry, sources said. The MoD is not expecting any further objections from the finance ministry over the ambitious proposal to raise a dedicated offensive capability in the north-east border with China.” (Times of India, June 1, 2013)

“Prior to his China visit in July, defence minister AK Antony has given his nod to the creation of a new mountain strike corps for the China border at Pannagarh and has sent the proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for a formal approval. The proposal has already been cleared by the finance ministry. Top government sources said Antony signed the China Strike Corps file after returning from his maiden official trip to Australia and Thailand on June 6.” (Hindustan Times, June 16, 2013)

“The cabinet committee on security is to shortly take a call on the diplomatic ramifications of raising a new army formation for the China frontier in the east and the Northeast. The defence ministry has all but finalised the plan for a proposed “mountain strike corps” that the army has been wanting for the last two years, and officials believe the financial requirement of more than Rs 60,000 crore could be spread over five years. The finance ministry this month cleared the defence establishment’s proposal. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his CCS colleagues will now weigh the diplomatic impact of the decision to raise the China-specific corps.” (The Telegraph [India], July 16, 2013)

“Boosting Army’s war fighting capabilities along the Line of Actual Control, in wake of numerous instances of incursion by neighbouring country, India today gave a go ahead to the creation of a corps including deployment of 50,000 additional troops along the China border at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crore. The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the proposal in its meeting, sources said.” (Press Trust of India, July 17, 2013)

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5 thoughts on “The Gestation of a New Indian Strike Corps

  1. “A study group set up after Operation Parakram had underscored the idea of a dedicated mountain strike corps being imperative since a large part of India’s vulnerable borders with Pakistan and China are in the mountains.”
    -Outlook, Dec 2007

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