India ups the ante on ChinaRahul Datta | New Delhi
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Centre okays raising of 2 mountain divisions
In a major decision aimed at countering the growing threats from China, the Government has sanctioned raising of two mountain divisions (20,000 troops) to be deployed on the India-China border. Taking the urgency of the situation into account, the Government has lifted a 37-year-old freeze on making fresh recruitment for the China-centric mountain division.
The Army was raising new units in the last 25 years from within its existing sanctioned troop strength. One division has about 10,000 men.
At present, the Army has two divisions and the sanction for two more divisions will help the Army plug all operational gaps and help it defend its eastern and western borders and wage two-front war if need be.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) recently gave the go-ahead to the Army to raise two more mountain divisions, sources said here on Friday. The Government has also decided to speed up the process to procure specialised weaponry needed for mountain warfare.
China was rapidly modernising its armed forces and strengthening the infrastructure all along the 4,500-km Line of Actual Control(LAC). Acknowledging the fact that Chinas preparedness was better, India took a series of steps like improving road network in States like Arunachal Pradesh and raising specialised mountain divisions, sources said.
They, however, claimed that these mountain divisions would be trained to fight a two-front war simultaneously with China and Pakistan as the Army was now capable of rapidly transferring troops from one theatre to another at a very short notice.
Elaborating upon the decision to remove the cap on fresh recruitments, sources said the Army raised the first two divisions from within its existing resources. It stretched the Armys resources and realising its adverse impact on preparedness, the Government allowed additional recruitments.
With the hike in sanctioned manpower strength, the Army would now have more elbow room to rapidly raise the two divisions and train them in the shortest possible time. Moreover, the Government asked the Army to hasten the process of procuring Howitzer guns aptly suited for mountain warfare.
The Army planned to go in for more than 200 Howitzer guns which can be carried on horse back or in helicopters to the remotest posts in the rugged mountain terrain in Jammu & Kashmir and North-East.
The guns were likely to procured through the foreign military sale (FMS) route from the US, sources said.
Incidentally, the new Army chief General VK Singh said on Thursday infrastructure development in border States facing China was slightly behind and the Government was giving due attention to this fact.
Stating that China was not only focusing on modernising its armed forces in Tibet and the stress was now on making Chinese soldiers operate in a digitised battlefield. Giving reasons for slow pace of infrastructure development on the Indian side, he said the terrain was friendly on the Chinese side as it was a plateau. However, the terrain was mountainous on our side thereby making it all the more difficult for fast road building, he said.
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