Integrated Battle Groups expected to be game changers for Indian Army, alter war strategy and allow for better mobilisation of troops

On the heels of the Indian Air Force's airstrikes in Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as well as of incidents of cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army has decided to establish three new battle formations along the border with Pakistan by October. The proposal was cleared at the biennial Army Commanders' Conference in New Delhi on Wednesday after a discussion among the seven commanders, who now have the responsibility of forming these Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) in their respective areas of operation.  that concluded in today in New Delhi cleared formations of the IBGs.

 Integrated Battle Groups expected to be game changers for Indian Army, alter war strategy and allow for better mobilisation of troops

Representational image of the Indian Army. Reuters

The decision was made after the Indian Army carried out successful tests of the IBG concept at war games last month, with the aim to further strengthen the military's ability to carry out swift strikes during wars. One of these IBGs are established along the Pakistan border, the Indian Army will move to strengthen its forces on the border with China, as well.

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. The first three IBGs to be set up along the Pakistan border will have elements from various formations of the Western Command.

The two IBG configurations tested before the decision was finalised included one for offensive roles (strike corps) — to carry out hostilities such as cross-border operations — and one for defensive postures (holding corps) — to withstand an attack from an enemy side. "The former will be more armour (tank)-intensive for thrusts across the border, and the latter will be infantry-centric to hold ground," The Times of India quotes a source as saying.

The major difference between brigades and IBGs lies in the number of troops in these battalions — a brigade comprises three to four battalions with 800 troops each, whereas the planned IBGs, to be commanded by officers of the rank of a major general, will have around 5,000 troops each.

The 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.

Brigades are the smallest battle formations in the Indian Army and corps, the largest. The IBGs will be even smaller than brigades, to make them more flexible and allow for faster mobilisation of troops.

By forming these specialised battalions, the Indian Army aims to be able to move both troops and equipment swiftly and stealthily into enemy territory at short notice, not leaving the rival side with time to tackle the IBGs. The decision was part of army chief General Bipin Rawat's initiatives to reorganise and right-size the operational structure of the force to make it more effective and lethal during wars.

IBGs are expected to be game changers that will alter the way the Indian Army strategises for wars. Officials expect these specialised groups to ensure better integration and self-sufficiency as compared to the existing formations. During hostilities, the current system requires a brigade to wait to be augmented by various types of units, such as artillery and logistics, which raises its time to mobilise. This won't be the case with IBGs, which will be self-sufficient and inbuilt with all such units, and hence, easier to mobilise.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jun 20, 2019 15:46:46 IST