New Delhi: The Indian Army has begun recruiting men for the second infantry division of the first strike corps specifically trained and equipped to do battle against units of the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) operating along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Despite a funding shortfall, the army is determined to raise the new 72nd Infantry Division that will be deployed to the northern border with China. Division headquarters will be at Pathankot in Punjab State. The division will become fully operational in three years and will have three brigades when fully formed.
It will become part of the new 17 Mountain Strike Corps formed in January 2014. The corps provides quick-reaction ground offensive capabilities against the PLAGF and is the first strike corps organized specifically to combat the Chinese.
The other three strike corps are trained and equipped to do combat against Pakistan. The 17th Mountain Strike Corps will fight in high-altitude combat. When fully organized, the corps will have over 90,000 men and will be equipped with tanks, artillery, helicopters, air defense and engineering units geared to fight in high altitude conditions.
The corps has been designed mainly for offensive operations against the Chinese. It will operate the latest version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and Agni Nuclear callable Ballistic Missiles.
The corps will also receive new U.S.-made M-777 ultra-light howitzers and additional Apache Helicopters recently ordered from the United States.
The reason for the formidable firepower being bestowed on the corps is to achieve “credible deterrence” against the PLAGF. “All adversaries respect strength, which comes from having the capability to strike across the border,” said Gen. Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.
The other unit in 17 Corps is 59 Infantry Division stationed in West Bengal, which is fully operational. 17 Corps will hold its first military exercise at Ladakh from August to September.