Countering China: Indian Army’s Raises New Corps Under Central Command

Indian Army

New Delhi: Aiming to bolster its defences along the northern borders with China, the Indian Army in a strategic move has decided to enhance its presence and capabilities in the region. The Indian Army’s plan involves transformation of the administrative formation – Headquarters Uttar Bharat (HQ UB) under the Central Command to a fully operational corps, according to media reports.

The HQ-UB which primarily serves administrative, training, and peace-time functions currently, will emerge as a robust corps equipped with additional infantry, artillery, aviation, air defence, and engineer brigades.

The Army’s decision to “combatise” the administrative Central Command with a new Corps being brought in under it aims to better guard the middle sector of the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. This transformation will streamline the sudden deployments and ad hoc changes that were brought in to counter the Chinese aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

According to sources in the defence and security establishment, the Headquarters Uttar Bharat (HQ UB) is being converted into a full-fledged corps called the 18 Corps. This corps, with one division and three independent brigades under it, will be in charge of the LAC, which falls between the Leh-based 14 Corps, under the Northern Command, and North Bengal’s Sukna-based 33 Corps, under the Eastern Command.

As a part of the Army’s ongoing efforts to reinforce its presence across all sectors along the LAC, the HQ UB, which only had one brigade under it along with some Scout Battalions, got a total of three brigades as the LAC heated up. The new ones included Joshimath-based 9 (Independent) Mountain Brigade, Pithoragarh-based 119 Brigade and the Pooh-based 136 Brigade. The Dehradun based 14 Division, which was earlier under the Western Command, was also brought under HQ UB. Since the escalation of tensions with China in May 2020, additional formations have been deployed in the western, middle, and eastern sectors. For instance, the Mathura-based 1 Strike Corps was redirected from its previous role on the western front with Pakistan to the LAC.

With the raising of the 18 Corps, the Army will now have a total of seven corps dedicated to guarding the borders with China, up from the earlier five, the sources said adding that the formation of a new Corps will also change the outlook of the Central Command. “It is about the mindset and the roles being performed. So when the HQ UB area becomes the 18 Corps, the full operational capability and orientation naturally undergoes a total change. Similarly, it stands true for the Central Command itself, which will now be combatised,” a source said.

Operationally responsible for the defence of the central sector along the LAC and the international Border with Nepal – stretching across the four states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Central Command is also home to 13 Category ‘A’ training establishments, 18 regimental centres and a large number of logistics establishments. The impending transformation into a corps signifies further upgrades in readiness and capabilities.