Mountain Strike Corps Indian Army
PC : Indian Army

On 9 April 2021, several media it was disclosed that the Indian Army has decided to induct 10,000 additional troops in a mountain strike corps deployed on the China border. Due to the ongoing India-China standoff in Ladakh, this news becomes extremely important and in today’s Guarding India Exclusive we will cover this decision of the Indian Army in great detail.

You may watch our YouTube video on this topic or may continue to read this article.

Before we analyse this new decision of the Indian Army, one must know several things about the strike corps. Strike Corps are those formations of the Indian Army which are operationally tasked with entering the enemy area during wartime in face of stiff resistance and capture large areas including vital targets. The organisation of a Strike Corps is according to its operational role in the target area.

Moreover, which Units form a particular Strike Corps during wartime, is treated as Top Secret information by the Indian Army. However, one may estimate generally a Strike Corps consists of 2-3 Infantry Divisions and a Mechanised Division consisting of T-90 tanks and BMPs. For providing fire support to these divisions a strike corps also has an artillery division attached to it which is often equipped with fast strike guns like K-9 Vajra. Additionally, the strike corps also has its dedicated air defence, communications, logistics, and medical units. Thus, depending upon its operational role a strike corps may comprise around 35,000 to 60,000 troops.

Presently Indian Army has four Strike Corps out of which three strike corps are dedicated to the Pakistan border. The strike corps dedicated to the Pakistan border are Mathura-based I Corps, Ambala-based II corps, and Bhopal-based 21 Corps. Presently, the Indian Army has only one strike corps dedicated to the China border which is XVII Corps (Mountain Strike Corps) based at Panagarh in West Bengal which is the only mountain strike corps of the Indian Army. For the last several years, the Indian Army is trying to raise this corps. However, to date 17 Corps remains a partially-raised corps that does not has full strength of troops.

XVII Corps (Mountain Strike Corps) Indian Army General Commanding officer
XVII Corps (Mountain Strike Corps) Indian Army General Commanding officer | PC : ADGPI

After the Ladakh standoff, the Indian Army realized that after deploying three strike corps on the Pakistan border, the Indian Army has inadequate strength for dealing with any operational challenges on the India-China border. During the Ladakh standoff, the Indian Army moved 17 Corps to Ladakh. Subsequently, when the Chinese Army increased its activities on LAC in Arunachal Pradesh the Indian Army did not have adequate troops for that area.

At this point, one must know that Line of Actual Control (LAC) is divided into three sectors. First is Northern Sector which encompasses the Ladakh area. The second is Central Sector covering Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the third is Eastern Sector which includes Sikkim and Northeastern states. During the Ladakh standoff, only 17 Corps (Mountain Strike Corps) which is also India’s mountain strike corps was covering the entire LAC.

Eastern, Central and Northern Sector of Indian Army
Eastern, Central and Northern Sector of Indian Army (Representation Only) | PC : Guarding India

Thus, during Ladakh Standoff, the Indian Army carried out a force rebalancing in which Indian Army Jawans were shifted from Pakistan to China border and multiple formations were given dual role means double responsibilities. During this rebalancing, the Mathura-based I Corps was reoriented for the China border. Subsequently, the I Corps will be jointly operating in Ladakh with the Leh-based XIV Corps. Thereafter, it was decided that XVII Corps (Mountain Strike Corps) will now only secure LAC in North East means Eastern Sector which includes all areas from Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh.

It was approximately 10 years before when the Indian Government sanctioned XVII Corps means Mountain Strike Corps for the China border. However, due to lack of funds, it only had just one Infantry Division which was far lesser than other Corps deployed on the Pakistan border. Finally, in 2021, the Government of India allowed the Indian Army to provide another division to 17 Corps (Mountain Strike Corps) which is a strike corps for the China border. After this decision, 17 Corps will get 10,000 additional troops which will increase the power of this strike corps.

On vigil: A file photo of an Army patrol in sub-sector North along the Line of Actual Control with China.
On vigil: A file photo of an Army patrol in sub-sector North along the Line of Actual Control with China. | PC : Dinakar Peri

Not only this, sources have disclosed that in coming years, 17 Corps will be getting an Artillery Brigade which will have 3000 – 5000 jawans. Besides this, the Indian Army has decided to provide this mountain strike corps with US-made M-777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzers and Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters which will allow it to deploy rapidly and stop any Chinese misadventures.

Chinook helicopter lifting the antenna for survey
Chinook helicopter lifting the antenna for survey | PC : Indian Air Force

Finally, on behalf of Team Guarding India, I would Like to say that the Indian Government’s decision of providing XVII Corps (Mountain Strike Corps) means mountain strike corps with 10,000 additional troops is a welcome step to date despite 11 rounds of India China Corps Commander Level Talks, Ladakh Standoff has not been resolved as Chinese Army has not recalled its soldiers from Gogra, Hot Springs, and Depsang plains. After this decision, even before the commencement of summers, the Indian Army can deploy 10,000 more troops on LAC to meet any Chinese surprise attacks.

India and China Border
India and China Border | PC : Guarding India