With India keen to acquire "quick reaction force (QRF) capabilities" against China, Army chief General Bikram Singh on Wednesday reviewed the raising of the new mountain strike corps that will give the force a "concrete" counter-offensive option in the event of any attack by the People's Liberation Army.
On a visit to the Kolkata-based Eastern Command, Gen Singh was briefed by Lt-Gen M M S Rai and others on the progress of the XVII Mountain Strike Corps, which made a small beginning with the raising of 22 major and minor units under its ambit last December.
The entire XVII Corps, with its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal, will however be fully raised with 90,274 troops at a cost of Rs 64,678 crore only by 2018-2019. With units spread across the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, the corps will have two high-altitude infantry divisions (59 Div at Panagarh and 72 Div at Pathankot) with their integral units, two independent infantry brigades, two armoured brigades and the like. "It will include 30 new infantry battalions and two Para-Special Forces battalions," said an officer.
Incidentally, Gen Singh will also be visiting Maldives from Thursday to assure the 1,190-island archipelago about India's continuing support in meeting its security needs. China has been trying to make deep inroads into Maldives as part of its expanding strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean region.
India has only belatedly taken to countering China's deadly build-up of trans-border military capabilities, backed by its expanding nuclear, space, electronic and cyber warfare abilities.
The development of the 3,500-km Agni-IV and 5,000-km Agni-V ballistic missiles, progressive deployment of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, spy drones, helicopters and missile squadrons in the eastern theatre, and the XVII Corps are all meant to gradually transform the present "dissuasive posture" against China into "a meaningful deterrence" one.
Holding that the XVII Corps "is not only for war-waging, it's for war-prevention as well", Gen Singh has himself said the overall roadmap is to "raise and convert our combat power into certain amount of QRF capabilities". In effect, the Army wants to ensure it can launch an attack into Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) if there is a Chinese foray across the border.
The Army has already raised two new infantry divisions (1,260 officers and 35,000 soldiers) at Likabali and Missamari (Assam) in 2009-2010 to reduce the adverse land combat ratio with China, which currently hovers around 1:3.
But the costs involved are quite high. Apart from the Rs 64,678 crore on the new corps, of which Rs 39,209 crore is for capital expenditure, the price tag for infrastructure development on the "northern borders" with China is pegged at another Rs 26,155 crore. - Times of india