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Restructuring of mechanised forces

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Agent_47, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. Agent_47

    Agent_47 Admin - Blog IDF NewBie

    Aug 3, 2011
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    Ever since the first tank clickety – clacked over the trenches 101 years ago, during the Battle of the Somme, on September 15, 1916, it has ruled the battlefield. The death knell of the tank has been sounded many times by new anti tank weapons and obstacle systems. However, the tank design has remarkably kept pace and continues to be the mainstay of all modern armed forces. Armoured and mechanised infantry units operate as combined arms in combat commands (brigade level), combat groups (unit level) and combat teams ( sub unit level) in varying combinations.
    Our hypothetical ideal requirements of mechanised forces is 97 armoured regiments and 70 mechanised infantry battalions. This is based on : 34 armoured regiments and 34 mechanised battalions for the 17 armoured brigades with 2 armoured regiments and 2 mechanised infantry battalions (2+2) for the 17 Reorganised Plains Infantry Divisions (RAPID). 18 armoured regiments and 9 mechanised infantry battalions for the 9 armoured brigades (2+1) of the 3 armoured divisions. 27 armoured regiments and 9 mechanised infantry battalions for the 9 independent armoured brigades (3+1) of the Pivot Corps. 10 armoured regiments and 10 mechanised battalions for 5 armoured brigades (2+2) for Ladakh and North East high altitude areas. 4 armoured regiments and 4 mechanised infantry battalions for 2 armoured brigades (2+2) for the amphibious role. 4 armoured regiments and 4 mechanised infantry battalions for 2 armoured brigades (2+2) for the air assault role.
    We presently have 64 armoured regiments and 50 mechanised infantry battalions. We are short of 33 armoured regiments and 20 mechanised infantry battalions. Our armoured regiments consist of 45 tanks having 3 tanks in the regimental headquarters and 14 tanks each in the 3 squadrons, with 4 troops of 3 tanks each and 2 tanks in the squadron headquarters. A mechanised infantry battalion is similarly organised except that each mechanised company has three platoons with 4 BMPs each. In my last column I had highlighted the need for a relook at the structure and organisation of the armoured/mechanised formations and units for their optimum utilisation.

    Due to resource constraint our ideal requirement is unlikely to be met in the near future. Restructuring and reorganisation is a better way to meet the requirement and for creating more ‘useable combat potential’. Based on the combat potential of the modern tank, we could reduce the number of tanks in an armoured regiment to 31 with one tank in the regimental headquarters and each squadron having 3 troops of 3 tanks each and one tank in the headquarters. This model is followed by the PLA and was successfully followed by the Red/Russian Army until recently. The second in commands and the adjutant can be based on ICVs. This would release 14 tanks per regiment ie 896 tanks or equivalent of 29 armoured regiments leaving us only 4 regiments short of the ideal requirement as per present structure of mechanised formations. Similarly each mechanised infantry battalion can be reduced by 14 BMPs ie one per platoon and one from company headquarter, and 2 from battalion headquarters creating approximately 23 more mechanised infantry battalions.

    Alternatively without changing the squadron/company organisations, we can opt for composite mechanised regiments with varying combination of armoured squadrons and mechanised infantry companies based on the operational role. Eg 3+1, 2+1, 2+2, 1+2 or 1+3. We have 64 armoured regiments and 50 mech infantry battalions each having 3 armoured squadrons and 3 mechanised companies. Thus we can easily create 114 composite mechanised regiments meeting our entire requirement with resources to spare. Composition of composite mechanised brigades can also be varied as per requirement of the operational role. Amalgamation of existing armoured regiments and mechanised infantry battalions would ensure that no additional manpower is required for this restructuring.

    There is a void of reconnaissance units in our mechanised formations. Ideally we require a composite mechanised reconnaissance squadron with each composite mechanised brigade and a composite reconnaissance regiment each with the 3 armoured divisions ie approximately 50 composite reconnaissance squadrons. This is an inescapable requirement and would have to be met with restructuring and new raising . The manpower requirements can be offset with the reduction of the infantry brigades in the RAPIDs.
    There is a case for reorganising the 3 Strike Corps into 3 division size battle groups. This is a subject by itself, however, whatever form the reorganisation may take the armoured/mechanised component will remain the same.

    Structures and organisations must not remain enslaved to regimentation and must be tailor made for our operational requirements. A modern tank and an infantry combat vehicle is three times more effective than what it was 50 years ago.

    Mechanised formations and units have the mobility to concentrate at the point of decision and are trained for functioning as combined arms teams with varying combinations, attaching/detaching on as required basis. Smaller formations and units are more agile and can project more ‘useable mass’ into battle on the 21st century battlefield vis a vis larger units and formations which were more suited for the set piece battle of a bygone era. While ‘concentration’ is a principle of war, its essence lies in ‘concentration of useable mass’ at the point of decision.

    nik141993 likes this.

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