As part of one of the biggest war-fighting transformations taken up by the Indian Army, future Integrated Battle Groups will be set up on the basis of its tasks, threats and terrain where it will be located, top officials said, adding that these formations will come up along the frontiers with Pakistan and China.
The first Integrated Battle Group (IBG) will come up under the army’s Yol-based 9 Corps under the Western Command in the next two years, officials added. They said it will take about four to five years for the complete ‘IBGisation’ of the army. Work is also being done on setting up IBGs in the eastern frontier. An IBG will be tested in a war game in Arunachal Pradesh by this year-end. Having tested IBGs in the plains under the Western Command, the army wants to see how well they will function in the mountains.
“When we look at IBGs, we have to first look at the terrain, threat, tasks and resources available. If I know that my threat across the border is mechanised, then my IBG has to be equipped accordingly. If I know that when I cross the border during battle and will encounter ditches, then I will need breathing apparatus for my equipment. In another sector, if the threat is from armoured formations such as tanks, so I will need armour. We will also have to look at whether the IBG will need artillery and where can it be deployed,” an official said.
“Therefore, we are also looking at logistics support for IBGs. It can depend on logistic establishments along the border and be equipped according to its requirements,” the official added.
“An IBG in 9 Corps will be setup. This will take one to two years to happen. Here, it is easier to adjust resources, because of the way they are deployed. But, we don’t want to disturb the units and their cycle of rotation,” said another official An IBG on the western front will have different equipment, training and tactics compared to the ones to be setup along the eastern front.
On the eastern front, the 17 Mountain Strike Corps which has been tasked to fight along the India-China border will be converted into an IBG.
“The entire process for IBGisation will take four to five years. It will depend on the tasks allot- ted to them. We are also shedding manpower such as some IBGs may need engineers and others may not,” the official explained. Currently, army formations have been set up on the thinking of ‘one size fits all’ and there is a need to instead have ‘leaner and meaner’ forces, officials said.
The concept of IBG was finalised last year under an army study to restructure the forces to meet future challenges. An IBG, which will be a little smaller than a division, will integrate the existing elements of infantry, tank regiments, artillery, engineers and signals. It will comprise six battalions of these elements and will be directly under a Corps.