|Armoured Brigades [armd bde]|
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|Armoured Regiments [armd regt]|
In the Indian context, a war either adversary will start in the mountains and thereafter may spillover to the plains, deserts or the Indian Ocean. In the plains and deserts of the Western Sector, large number of habitats have come up. These will not permit large scale manuvers by the mechanised forces. India therefore needs to seriously consider whether it need three armoured divisions, or should it enhance capabilities to fight in high altitude terrain. Concentration of mechanised forces which are division size cannot remain concealed from the enemy. They will become attractive targets for a pre-emptive nuclear strike by an adversary during concentration itself. A suitable organisation could be all arms battle groups which can be swiftly concentrated and launched. In the present day concept, even a division size force is too ponderous to concentrate, be launched or side stepped when required.
Since the war will be fought under a nuclear overhang, particularly with Pakistan, there is a fair possibility that both sides will strive to ensure that it remains confined to the mountains so that it does not escalate out of control to nuclear exchanges. Hence, some say it is time for India to pivot to the mountains in its quest for building military capacities.
The Indian Army fields 63 Armoured Regiments, including the President's Body Guards. From the 65th Armoured Regiment onwards, the term 'Cavalry' and 'Lancer' was dispensed with and all subsequent raisings are designated just as Armoured Regiment (AR).
Armour Day is celebrated on 01 May every year to commemorate the commencement of mechanisation of the Indian Cavalry regiments. On this date in 1938, The Scinde Horse became the first regiment to shed their horses and to be equipped with tanks. The first such equipment was the Vickers light tanks and Chevrolet Armoured Cars.
Indian Armoured Corps was equipped with the comparatively modern Sherman tanks (M4) of American origin in 1943. Regiments so equipped formed the spearhead of the 14th Army during its pursuit of the defeated Japanese in the liberation of Burma. Post independence, Indian Armour lost one third of its units and training establishments to Pakistan with the Indian share being only twelve regiments. It was these regiments which nurtured the Corps and helped expand to the force that it has evolved into today.
Expansion and modernisation of the Armoured Corps was initiated post independence with Centurions Mark VII and AMX-13 light tanks. Since then, the Armoured Corps has operated the indigenous Vijayanta tanks, the Russian T-54 and T-55, T-72 and T-90 tanks and MBT Arjun.
An ideal man-machine interface led to a sterling performance in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 when the sophisticated Pakistani Patton tanks were decimated by own Centurian tanks to form the famous ‘Patton Graveyard, near Khemkaran in Punjab. Lt Col AB Tarapore of ‘The Poona Horse’ was posthumously honoured with the Param Vir Chakra for his gallant action in the Shakargarh Bulge. The Corps proved its mettle yet again gloriously in the 1971 war with Pakistan wherein tanks were at the forefront of action in the plains sector on the Western and Eastern fronts. 2nd Lt Arun Khetrapal fought gallantly and made the supreme sacrifice in the Battle of Basantar River earning for his regiment ‘The Poona Horse’, yet another Param Vir Chakra. The core ethos of displaying exemplary courage in the face of fearful odds is amply demonstrated by the award of two Param Vir Chakras, 15 Maha Vir Chakras and 60 Vir Chakras amongst a large number of gallantry and distinguished service awards bestowed upon officers and men of the Armoured Corps.
The Corps contributes substantially to the counter insurgency operations at all times. This includes service with the Rashtriya Rifles, Assam Rifles and other PMF. The Corps is also making its contribution in its share for world peace by deploying a contingent to the UN peace keeping mission in Lebanon, apart from individual representations.
In May 2005 President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam recommended equipping battle tanks with electronic warfare systems, secured communication systems, higher mobility and night fighting potential, to provide force multiplication for the Armoured Corps. Praising all ranks of the regiment for the yeoman service rendered by them, the President said the regiment had displayed unparalleled gallantry in operations like Cactus "Lily", "Trident", "Rakshak", "Vijay" and "Prakram". He recalled the sacrifices made by Risaldar Bahadur Singh, Lieut-Col B.S. Lamba, and Risaldars Ram Nath Singh and Ram Singh. He said the government has taken a number of steps to modernise the forces for enhancing combat capabilities.
The Armoured Corps Centre and School (ACCS), in association with Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), has deployed a specially designed software module to enable its recruits acquire skills in tank warfare through training under simulated conditions.
The famous 7th Light Cavalry is one of the highest decorated Regiments of Armoured Corps. The Deccan Horse is one of the oldest regiments of the Armoured Corps.
Indian cavaliers had the sweep of a whole subcontinent before them like their equivalents - the Cossacks of Russia or the Light Dragoons of the United States. This arm came up through a mixture of raising methods: directly recruited cavaliers were grouped into 'regular' units; yeomen of means who bought themselves in with mounts and essentials, formed Irregular units, under the silladar system. Very 'irregular' Cavalry raised by gentlemen of fortune and in the employ of local powers were also welcomed to join the growing Cavalry arm.
Local state forces which had demonstrated their prowess on the battlefield were also invited to join the Britishers. Among these were the Arcot Cavalry and some from Hyderabad; Maratha Cavalry raider forces (including the highly irregular Risalas of Gardner and Skinner). The last to join the irregulars were of the Army of the Khalsa, Hodsons Horse being the best 'known among them. This formidable Cavalry arm, largely named after the Presidencies, e.g., the Bengal Cavalry, caught the romance of those times. Units were given to calling themselves 'Horse', 'Cavalry', 'Light Cavalry' or 'Lancers'. Some time after independence, the equine connotation died out and newly raised regiments now call themselves 'Armoured Regiments.
52 Armoured Regiment
The 52 Armoured Regiment conducted its first Reunion while celebrating the tenth raising day somewhere in the northern sector. A large number of serving and retired officers, JCOs and ORs and ladies congregated at the reunion, marking a true regimental spirit. The two-day reunion provided an excellent opportunity to the young and old soldiers to share their views and experiences.
The celebrations commenced with a barakhana. Later the JCOs and men of the regiment had put up an entertainment programme comprising skits, songs and dances. The highlight of the celebrations was Langar Band and bhangra in which all present officers, JCOs and ORs joined in.
Next day, the celebrations commenced with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Basantar Memorial by Brig AR Sinha (Retd), the first Colonel of the regiment and Brig DS Chauhan, the present Colonel. The regimental sainik sammelan was held with pomp and show. Brig AR Sinha (Retd) and Brig DS Chauhan addressed the sammelan. Felicitation of outstanding serving soldiers and release of the 'Dragon Land Newsletter', were important features of the sainik sammelan. Camaraderie and esprit de corps of the Dragons marked the occasion. Addressing the troops, Brig DS Chauhan recalled the achievements of the regiment during the past 10 years.
On this occasion, drawing and fancy dress competitions were organised for children of JCOs and ORs while the ladies displayed their artistic skills in rangoli. The fancy dress competition added another hue to the colourful event.
While most of the cavalry regiments have been transformed to armoured regiments, the 61st Cavalry remains to the be only horsed regiment in the world today. In 2003 the regiment celebrated fifty years of existence as cavalry regiment at Jaipur. Gen NC Vij, Chief of the Army Staff who is also the Colonel of the regiment, witnessed the golden jubilee parade and took the salute.
A large number of spectators including members of the royal families who had contributed to the making of this regiment witnessed the ceremony. Gen Vij also addressed a special sainik sammelan in which he announced that henceforth 61st Cavalry would be recognised in "Group Y" for the benefit JCO's and men.
With the abolishment of privy purses post-Independence, it became increasingly difficult for the royals of yore to maintain its army of horsemen. It was decided to disband all regular cavalry units of the states and raise a new Horsed Cavalry Regiment Jaipur in 1953 with Col Phulel Singh (ex Jammu and Kashmir State Forces) as its first Commandant.
Amalgamating horsed cavalry units of Gwalior Lancers, Jodhpur/Kachhawa Horse, Mysore Lancers, 'B' Squadron 2nd Patiala Lancers and Saurashtra Horsed Cavalry Squadron, the regiment was redesignated as 61st Cavalry in January 1954.
Not just adding decor to the Army, this regiment also performed operational roles. With 39 battle honours, this regiment has been commended since their charge at Haifa. It was also deployed in Ganganagar sector during 1965 and also took part in operations Pawan, Rakshak, Vijay and Parakram.
68 Armoured Regiment
In May 2005 President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presented the Standard to 68 Armoured Regiment at an impressive mounted parade of T-72 M1 tanks for outstanding services during war and peace. Col A.S. Kler, whose father, Lieut-Gen G.S. Kler, had also served the regiment, was the Parade Commander. Dr Kalam said periodical training of 68 Armoured Regiment with different troops was essential for the growth of the regiment as well as secured networking of regiment sub-units to their HQs and important locations.
Dr Kalam inspected the parade comprising 31 battle tanks. The Standard was then brought to the parade ground and placed on a pile of drums. Considered the most sacred in the regiment, It is never placed on the ground. Capt Pawanjeet Singh Bhullar, whose father Major GS Bhullar (retd) is one of the forefathers of the regiment, was the Nishan Officer. With Army bands playing 'Mera Bharat mahan' in the background, the President walked towards the parade ground and presented the Standard to Capt Bhullar.
The President released an information brochure to commemorate the occasion. He was given a memento by the regiment. Interacting with jawans, Dr Kalam said they had always discharged their duty with devotion on borders. Col Kler presented 'Regiment's Moments' to the President. Punjab Chief Minister Cap Amarinder Singh was also present. The Colonel of the regiment, Brig Prabir Goswami, Maj-Gen Omit Sarkar and a large number of serving and retired officers, JCOs and other ranks attended the ceremonial function.
He lauded the regiment for its welfare activities like free medical camps in nearby villages. He said this would go a long way in strengthening the bond between the armed forces and citizens. He asked the regiment to undertake plantation for augmenting green cover. He said the government was aware of the hardships being faced by the troops deployed in difficult areas and it was making efforts to improve their quality of life.
For troops in peace areas, the government was making concerted efforts to enhance accommodation amenities and also to provide better educational facilities to their children. Concluding his address, the President said: "I pray the Almighty that this Standard will motivate you to demonstrate many more 'Prakrams' and bring 'Vijay' in all your endeavours."
86 Armoured Regiment
President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, presented the Standard to 86 Armoured Regiment near Pathankot in early 2004. The President reviewed an impressive mounted parade of T-55 tanks. He was received by the Colonel of the Regiment, Lt Gen K Davar. The parade was commanded by Col RS Malve, the twelfth commandant of the regiment. Dr Kalam also released a 'First Day Cover' to commemorate this historic occasion. The ceremony was attended by a large number of civilian and military dignitaries, retired officers, junior commissioned officers and jawans of the regiment.
Eighty-six Armoured Regiment was raised on March 1, 1977. The regiment, comprising a mixed class composition, served in both strike and defensive formations in all theatres of operations in the country. It has activily participated in operations Trident in 1987, Vijay in 1999 and Parakram in 2001. The regiment also took part in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Its efforts have fructified with the award of two Param Vishist Seva Medals, one Ati Vishist Seva Medal, two Chief of Army Staff's commendation cards and seven General Officer Commanding-in-Chief commendation cards to the brave and dedicated soldiers of the regiment.
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