Army’s first Integrated Battle Groups to be structured by end of next month

Army’s first Integrated Battle Groups to be structured by end of next month

The new concept of Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) which the Army plans to create as part of overall force transformation is close to implementation, a senior Army source said. IBGs are brigade-sized, agile, self-sufficient combat formations, which can swiftly launch strikes against adversary in case of hostilities.

“The concept of IBGs has already been test-bedded by 9 Corps. They are reorganising, based on the feedback and will complete restructuring by end-August. The Army will approach the Government for sanction after that,” the source said. The number of IBGs has not been decided yet, the source added.

Each IBG would be tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain and Task and resources will be allotted based on the three Ts. They need to be light so they will be low on logistics, the source stated and added, “They will be able to mobilise within 12-48 hrs based on the location.”

While a command is the largest static formation of the Army spread across a defined geography, a corps is the largest mobile formation. Typically each corps has about three brigades. The idea is to reorganise them into IBGs which are brigade-sized units but have all the essential elements like infantry, armoured, artillery and air defence embedded together based on the three Ts. An IBG operating in a desert needs to be constituted differently from an IBG operating in the mountains, the source explained.

The key corps of the Army are likely to be reorganised into 1-3 IBGs. “Government sanction for each will be taken separately once they are constituted,” the source observed.

The IBGs will also be defensive and offensive. While the offensive IBGs would quickly mobilise and make thrust into enemy territory for strikes, defensive IBGs would hold ground at vulnerable points or where enemy action is expected. The composition of the IBGs would also depend on this.

Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat has initiated four major studies to undertake overall transformation of the force. These include restructuring of Army Headquarters; force restructuring which includes creation of Integrated Battle Groups (IBG); the cadre review of officers; and review of the terms and conditions of Junior Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks. The aim is holistic integration to enhance the operational and functional efficiency, optimise budget expenditure, facilitate force modernisation and address aspirations.

The overall transformation will also see a reduction in the size of the 1.3 million Army. “We are looking to reduce by about a lakh over 4-5 years,” the source stated, while adding that actual reduction will be lesser as some numbers will be added for some new risings under way.

After the terrorist attack on the Parliament, the Indian military undertook massive mobilisation but the Army’s formations which were deep inside took weeks to mobilise loosing the element of surprise. Following this, the Army formulated a proactive doctrine known as ‘Cold Start’ to launch swift offensive but its existence was consistently denied in the past. Its existence was acknowledged for the first time by Gen Rawat in January 2017.

Source