Security Issues

Army’s first Integrated Battle Groups to be structured by end of next month

In News:

  • The Indian Army is planning to transform the force, including roll out Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) as part of overall plan to enhance combat capability of the force.
  • The operationalization of integrated battle groups will mark the concrete acceptance by India of the doctrine of Cold Start, whereby India can wage a proactive war against Pakistan even in a nuclear environment.

Four major studies to undertake overall transformation of the force:

  • Restructuring of Army Headquarters
  • Force restructuring, which includes creation of Integrated Battle Groups (IBG)
  • The cadre review of officers
  • Review of the terms and conditions of Junior Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks

Aim of Transformation:

  • The aim is holistic integration to enhance the operational and functional efficiency, optimise budget expenditure, facilitate force modernisation and address aspirations.

About Cold Start Doctrine

  • The Army formulated a proactive doctrine known as ‘Cold Start’ to launch swift offensive but its existence was consistently denied in the past.
  • Its existence was acknowledged for the first time by the Indian Army General in 2017.

Background:

  • The Cold Start doctrine was reportedly devised following the Indian Army failure to mobilize quickly in response to the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament.
  • India’s mobilization along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir, codenamed Operation Parakram, occurred at a slow pace and it took three weeks for the Indian military to move 500,000 troops and three armored divisions and support to the border.
  • The delay allowed the Pakistan Army to mobilize and move 300,000 troops including its own two strike corps, the Army Reserve North and Army Reserve South, to the contested border.
  • Lacking strategic surprise, the Indian military withdrew after a 10-month standoff.
  • In after action reviews, the military concluded that the size of the strike corps made them difficult to maneuver and that the lack of offensive capability of the so-called holding corps was a serious handicap for quick military actions against Pakistan.
  • As a result, CSD was developed by the Indian Army in 2004 to facilitate smaller scale, rapid, and decisive conventional offensive operations into Pakistani territory in the event of Pakistani-sponsored asymmetrical attack on Indian soil before the international community can actively intervene, and before Pakistan would feel compelled to launch nuclear retaliatory strikes to repel an Indian invasion.

About: Integrated Battle Groups

  • IBGs are battle formations with heavy firepower that will combine infantry, armour, artillery, engineers, logistics and support units to bring together all necessities to fight a war.
  • These are brigade-sized, agile, self-sufficient combat formations, which can swiftly launch strikes against adversary in case of hostilities.
  • IBGs will be smaller, better-equipped fighting units with elements of air power, artillery, amour etc.
  • The establishment of these groups will do away with the older formation of troops, which included around eight to 10 brigades, each with three to four battalions. Instead, an IBG will have just about six battalions.
  • Consequently, the size of the IBGs would fall in between an undersized Army division and brigade (2,400 t0 3,200 troops) in terms of manpower (a division on average has a strength of around 20,000 troops).
  • IBGs are to be commanded by officers of the rank of a Major General.

Significance:

  • It will ensure better integration and self-sufficiency as compared to the existing formations.
  • The IBGs will be smaller than brigades, thus making them more flexible and allow for faster mobilisation of troops. IBGs will be able to mobilise within 12-48 hrs based on the location.
  • By combining infantry, armour, artillery, engineers, logistics and support units, IBGs response will be sharp and swift.

News Summary:

  • The new concept of Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs), which the Army plans to create as part of overall force transformation, is close to implementation.
  • The concept of IBGs has already been test-bedded by 9 Corps. The IBGs are reorganising, based on the feedback and will complete restructuring by end-August.
  • The Army will approach the Government for sanction after that.
  • The key corps of the Army are likely to be reorganised into 1-3 IBGs.
  • Government sanction for each will be taken separately once they are constituted.

Nature of the IBGs:

  • Have all essential elements: The idea is to reorganise them into IBGs which are brigade-sized units but have all the essential elements like infantry, armoured, artillery and air defence embedded together based on the three Ts.
  • 3Ts: Each IBG would be tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain and Task and resources will be allotted based on the three Ts.
  • The IBGs will also be defensive and offensive: While the offensive IBGs would quickly mobilise and make thrust into enemy territory for strikes, defensive IBGs would hold ground at vulnerable points or where enemy action is expected. The composition of the IBGs would also depend on this.

Deployment of IBGs:

  • The initial IBGs will be set up along the Pakistan border will have elements from various formations of the Western Command that will help it carry out swift strikes in case of war.
  • Once these IBGs are established along the Pakistan border, the Indian Army could move
  • to strengthen its forces on the border with China as well.

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