Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 14
Two years into the raising of the China-centric Mountain Strike Corps, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag has announced that the new Corps is being raised as per schedule, putting to rest the speculation that the force levels had been halved and the raising had been slowed down.
The Corps was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in September 2013 and its raising started in January 2014 when the first commander was appointed.
The Corps with nearly 90,000 soldiers is to cost Rs 64,700 crore, out of which around Rs 39,000 crore has being earmarked for capital expenditure – new weapons and guns.
Asked about reports that the government was restructuring the Mountain Strike Corps, General Suhag said there was no move to slow down its raising. “A target was kept of nine years and we are on target to raise it by 2021,” he told reporters yesterday, adding that there had been no budgetary cuts.
The Corps with its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal is slated to have two divisions — one in the North-East and another at Pathankot. It will also have Brigades places at locations all along the Himalayas — India shares 3,448 km boundary with China along the Himalayan ridgeline.
It will also have troops based in the Himalayan foothills backed by rapid deployment onboard special operations planes such as the C-130-J and the C-17. India is also buying specialist heavy lift helicopters the Chinook CH-47 that can be used for troop insertion in mountains.
The Corps’ raising itself has been mired in controversy. A parliamentary standing committee in August last year rapped the Defence Ministry for “milking existing resources”. A report tabled in Parliament said: “The Committee is constrained to note that the raising of Mountain Strike Corps was commended utilising War Wastage Reserves (WWR), which are war reserves and not to be touched otherwise.”
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