Indian Army Divisions
The Division is lowest (or the highest, depending on the viewpoint) individual formation. They integrate in themselves all arms and services for sustained independent operations. Each Division composes of several Brigades. Divisions are designated by function, terrain of operation, or by their equipment mix. The Army has in its Order of Battle mountain divisions, infantry divisions, armoured divisions (in which tank units predominate). An Infantry Division typically has about 15,500 combat troops, with 8,000 support elements (artillery, engineers, etc). It consists of 3 to 5 Infantry Brigades, an Armoured Regiment and an Artillery Brigade.
The old Indian Army prior to 15 August, 1947, was divided into three Commands Northern, Southern and Eastern. A fourth, Central Command, was raised during the war and disbanded in September, 1946. Of the Indian divisions which took part in the World War II, the 6th, 8th, 10th, 14th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 26th and 39th were disbanded, those remaining being the 4th, 5th, 7th Infantry Divisions, 1st Armoured Division and the 2nd Airborne Division.
By 1984 the Army was composed of 2 armored divisions, 17 infantry divisions, and 10 mountain divisions [29 Divisions in total], 5 independent armored brigades, 1 independent infantry brigade, and 1 parachute brigade. Attached to these formations were divisional and corps artillery assets and 14 independent artillery brigades. Approximately 25 percent of the Indian Army was poised on the Indo-Chinese border while the remainder faced Pakistan or was in reserve.
In 2002 the army had 1,100,000 personnel, by one report in five regional command with 12 corps with 3 armored divisions, 4 RAPID light mechanized divisions, 18 infantry divisions, 9 mountain divisions, and 15 independent brigades (7 armored) - for a total of 34 divisions. Another report said they were organized into three armored divisions, one mechanized division, 18 infantry divisions, nine mountain divisions [for a total of 31 divisions, not counting 4 RAPID divisions], five independent armored brigades, five independent infantry brigades, three independent artillery brigades, four air defense brigades, and three engineer brigades. The divisions are numbered consecutively from 1 through 29, skipping 13, and with no apparent pattern for the remaining divisions, save that the two artillery divisions are numbered 40 and 41.
Accounts differ as to how many Divisions are in the Indian Army as of 2008, with some reports saying as few as 34 divisions and other reports saying the Indian Army had as many as 37 Divisions. Wikki sources report that the 34 divisions include:
- 18 Infantry Divisions
- 10 Mountain Divisions
- 4 RAPID (Re-organised Army Plains Infantry Divisions) Action Divisions
- 3 Armoured Divisions
- 2 Artillery Divisions
It will be seen that this amounted to 37 divisions, not 34, though readily available lists enumerate 36 divisions. From this perspective, the discrepancy between 36 identifiable divisions and 37 total divisions amounts to one Infantry Division, since only 17 can be identified. And the discrepancy between 36 identifiable divisions and 34 reported total divisions are the two artillery divisions, which are not always counted along with maneuver [armour, infantry, etc] divisions.
In 2009 the Indian Army made plans to raise two new divisions in the north-east with 56 Mountain Division at Zakhama, coming under III Corps, and 71 Mountain Division at Missa Mari, coming under IV Corps. The 56th and the 71 mountain divisions, comprising over 30,000 troops, were to bolster the eastern front's defenses. And two more new Mountain divisions were in formation as of 2014.
Mountain units may serve in other terrain when circumstances dictate, and thus all may not be prepared for immediate operations at high altitude. It was announced in February 2008 that establishment approval was being sought for the raising of two further mountain divisions.
In the 1980s 33 Division was formed as a mechanized division (in which mechanized infantry units predominate), but this type of formation was found not particularly useful and 33 Division was reformed as an Armored Division.
Krishnaswami Sundarji [died New Delhi 8 February 1999] was India's most brilliant, ambitious and controversial chief of army staff. In 1976 Sundarji became the first infantry officer to command an armoured division. During his three-year tenure he realised his ambition of raising the desperately needed mechanised infantry regiment. Sundarji took this forward in the '80s to shape the army's perspective, the Army Plan 2000, which outlined a new mobile strategy based on tanks, firepower and enhanced communications. Reorganised Army Plains Infantry Division (RAPID) formations, a brainchild of General Sundarji, have three brigades - two mechanised infantry and one armoured.
Four infantry divisions were converted into the Reorganised Army Plains Infantry Division (RAPID). Night fighting capabilities have been enhanced through third generation passive devices and thermal imaging systems. Sophisticated VHF and HF equipment have been developed to produce jam resistant frequency hopping sets while different kinds of indigenous radar will boost the air defence and artillery capabilities. These RAPID divisions were essentially infantry divisions with one mechanized brigade which would give the division greater mobility. The divisional structure was reduced by a brigade, on the assumption that the manpower reduction would be offset by various force multipliers and surveillance. Needless to say, the Army waited in vain, for the financial resources for this technological makeover were simply never allotted.
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