Army to raise Integrated Battle Groups in Jammu, 2 other places

Aimed at fast, hard response across borders

Each Group to have around 5000 troops

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, June 21: In a significant decision, Army proposed to raise three new Integrated Battle Groups in Jammu and two other States having International Border, which were aimed at fast, quick and hard response across the borders with Pakistan. Gradually, the similar Battle Groups are also proposed to be raised along the China border.
Sources told the Excelsior that apart from Jammu, the two other Integrated Battle Groups could come up in Punjab and Rajasthan, the two States that also shared International Border with Pakistan like Jammu region. Jammu has 198 kilometers International Boundary with Pakistan from Lakhanpur to Akhnoor comprising three districts of the region including Jammu, Samba and Kathua. In addition, India also shared Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region.
“The Integrated Battle Groups will comprise infantry, artillery, air defence, T-90s Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), Signals and Engineers. They will be backed by attack helicopters,’’ sources said.
As per the proposal, sources said, the Integrated Battle Groups are likely to be headed by the officers in the rank of Major Generals.
While the three Integrated Battle Groups of Army proposed for Jammu, Punjab and Rajasthan could come up by October this year, the similar groups alone China borders could take a little more. The Battle Groups along China border are proposed to be the part of 17 Mountain Strike Corps being raised at Pannagarh in West Bengal, sources disclosed.
“The Integrated Battle Groups will be set up to ensure that they can mobilize fast and strike hard across the borders with Pakistan as and when required. They are part of the Government’s ongoing endeavour to reformat war-fighting machinery especially along the borders with Pakistan,’’ sources said.
Each Integrated Battle Group will have around 5000 troops, sources pointed out and said they will be carved out of around 50 Divisions which have 15,000 soldiers each under the 14 Corps.
The “lethal and agile” Integrated Battle Groups have been “test-bedded and exercised” in the war-games held last month, which saw the participation of a “Strike Corps” and a “Defensive Corps” under the aegis of the Western Command headquartered at Chandimandir near Chandigarh. The Western Command covers three districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Samba and Kathua.
Sources said the Integrated Battle Groups will be both offensive and defensive. The offensive group will be tank-intensive for thrusts across the border while the defensive group will be Infantry-centric to hold ground.
“The Pulwama terror attack of February 14 this year in South Kashmir in which 44 CRPF personnel were martyred followed by Indian airstrikes at Balakote deep inside Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on February 24, have also necessitated the Army plan to expedite the establishment of the Integrated Battle Groups,’’ sources said, adding that formation of the Groups is being monitored by the top Army Commanders.
According to sources, the Army aimed to combine Infantry, Armour, Artillery, Engineers, Logistics and Support units, which usually come together only during actual combat or exercises, into the Integrated Battle Groups even during peace time.
This, according to sources, will ensure the Integrated Battle Groups can be mobilized and deployed swiftly, with the Army’s new Land Warfare Doctrine.
The Integrated Border Groups will be most crucial and significant step of the Army in revamping its entire war-fighting machinery, sources said.
It may be mentioned here that Pakistan generally tries to push trained militants into Jammu and Kashmir both from the Line of Control as well as the International Border. However, post-Balakote airstrikes, the infiltration attempts from Pakistan side have come down considerably, sources said but added that the Indian Army didn’t want to take any chance and would come up with the Integrated Battle Groups.