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Corps of Electrical & Mechanical Engineers [EME]

The role of Corps of Electrical & Mechanical Engineers [EME] is to achieve and maintain the operational fitness of electrical, mechanical, electronic and optical equipment of the Army. The Electrical and Mechanical Engineers who light to factory-level repairs to everything the Army uses. With their forward repair teams based on customized armoured vehicles, they function within a battlefield, recovering equipment casualties from their point of collapse. Back at base workshop, they strip and rebuild anything that the Army owns be it fighting vehicles, electronics, or data processing equipment.

The history of the Corps, born in 1943, is indeed glorious. Over the decades, the Corps has, with remarkable speed, welded itself into a fine and efficient organisation. It is imbued with requisite zeal and determination to overcome, if necessary by improvisation, all the impediments it faces in the rapidly changing technological environment. The efficacy with which an organisation performs its role is dependent to a large degree upon the sense of union developed amongst its elements - the esprit de corps. These 56 years have built up traditions and relationships of a lasting kind. These have sustained amongst its troops the concept of honour, courage, fidelity to the organisation, professional integrity and a pride in developing technical skills.

The Corps is responsible for providing engineering support to the army equipment ranging from light vehicles to tanks, guns, missiles, radars, computers, helicopters, communication equipment, night vision devices, simulators and so on during war and peace. Over the years there has been phenomenal rise in the sophistication, quantum and variety of military hardware. The Corps has effectively met the challenges arising from the proliferation of such multi-disciplinary high technology military hardware through continuous evolution of its engineering support system.

There are some schools of thought which maintain that war is just a fight between soldiers in combat arms; this is not the case. It is true that an army is a fighting machine, but there are three basic needs if it is to achieve its full potential in battle - leadership, equipment and training. Wars involve the employment of a great deal of modern and sophisticated equipment and the EME plays a major role in assisting the Army's posture of operational preparedness and combat effectiveness to win any war. If combat arms are the teeth of the Army then EME has a vital function of keeping them sharp. Through the war and the many operations that the Indian Army undertook over the past five decades, the Corps has proven itself as a first class repair, recovery and in many cases as a design and development organisation. It is actively involved in counter insurgency operations both in J & K and in North-East.

EME History

From the role of mere servicing the arms and ammunition, the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) rose to the level of managing technology for the Armed Forces. In this odyssey, the corps crossed many hurdles and carved a niche for itself in the service of the nation.

The story of warfare, in essence, is a story of man's struggle for existence. Earlier, man used to shape tools and weapons to outwit his opponents. Later, he projected his need to someone else to make weapons for war. Consequently, the need of craftsman arose.

By the turn of the nineteenth Century, Inspectors of Ordnance Machinery (IsOM) were responsible for repair of guns, small arms and instruments in arsenal workshops in India. Later, in 1925, a new cadre of Ordnance Mechanical Engineers (OMEs) was brought in and the IsOM came on the roll of Indian Army Ordnance Corps. Later, the Supplies and Transport Corps emerged as the Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC). There were 11 transport workshops providing first and second line repair cover to the vehicle fleet. They stocked spares, assemblies and fitment items required for the vehicles. By mid 1942, allied war production gained ground and a large number of equipment like tanks and guns were coming to India for the Allied Forces.

An American Tank Detachment Commander, Lt Col Rothwell H Brown was on duty with the British forces in India for the purpose of advising them on maintenance and operation of armoured vehicles. He suggested the urgent need for improving the efficiency of the mechanical engineering service of the Army.

Accordingly, the Commander-in-Chief of British Forces approved the raising of an equivalent of the REME in India. On May 1, 1943, the Mechanical Engineering Directorate at General Headquarters (India) was formed and units were allocated. On September 15, 1944, Lt Gen Sir Clarence A Bird was appointed as the Colonel Commandant of IEME. The new born Indian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers had the motto omnia fascimus meaning-'We can do everything'.

On October 15, 1943, the actual transfer of personnel from IAOC to IEME took place. This resulted in the birth of the Indian soldier craftsman and since then October 15 is observed as the EME Corps Day.

The nascent Corps almost doubled its strength in a matter of two years to establish 632 different IEME units including 12 training centres, 13 commands, 6 bases and 113 station workshops. The IEME personnel distinguished themselves in every theatre of war where they operated.

When India became a Sovereign Republic in 1950, the Corps dropped "I" from its name to be called as EME. The design of the new Corps badge was to promulgate the ethos of the Corps. The design prepared by Maj SE Doig when Brig IH Reeves was the DME, was approved in 1953 and taken into use from 1955. The motto was also changed to 'Karm hi Dharam' which means-"Work is Supreme Duty".

The advancements in technology in the 80s and 90s resulted in use of electronics in all types of equipment. In tune with the times, the equipment profile of the Army had predominance of electronics which necessitated the Corps to change its outlook from electrical to electronics. In January 2001, the corps was re-christened as the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers. During last six decades, the corps proved itself with distinction in all the tasks assigned to it.

Army Base Workshops (ABW)

Eight Army Base Workshops (ABWs) were established during the second world war to carry out repairs and overhaul of weapons, vehicles and equipment to keep the Indian Army operationally ready. Towards this end, they also undertake manufacture of spares. The ABWs work under the overall control of Director General Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) who functions under the Master General of Ordnance (MGO). Headquarters Base Workshop Group is responsible for planning and co-ordination of functions of the ABWs.

The ABWs are co-located with the ordnance depots which feed them with repairables and spares. The overhauled/repaired equipment are received by these depots for issue to the user units. The production/repair capacity of ABWs is determined on the basis of manpower and are fixed in terms of standard units (SUs) which is equivalent to 100 man hours. Various committees have recommended norms for the functioning of the ABWs from time to time.

The workshops of EME are the centers where military equipment gets a new lease of life. At present, there are eight Army Base Workshops (ABWs) at Delhi, Agra, Meerut, Kirkee, Jabalpur, Kankinara, Allahabad and Bangalore.

Headquarters, Base Workshop Group located at Meerut coordinates all the activities of ABWs in consonance with the policy laid down by Army Headquarters.

The 505 Army Base Workshop in New Delhi overhauled a variety of 'A' and 'B' vehicles which include Churchill, Stuart, Sherman, AMX-13 and Vijayanta tanks and armoured cars like Diamler, Humber and GM Fox. The workshop has carried out re-powering of Vijayanta tanks with T-72 engines, upgrading them with night vision devices, fire control system and fire detection equipment.

The latest achievement of this workshop is manufacture of Windy-505, a fast attack vehicle. Recipient of ISO 9001 : 2000 certification during 2002-2003, 507 Army Base Workshop overhauls 'B' vehicle engines and also manufactures spares. Its major activity includes overhaul of Kraz vehicles of Army and Air Force.

While 509 Army Base Workshop is a specialist workshop responsible for base repairs of radar systems, electronic test equipments, optical and fire control instruments and night vision devices, 510 Army Base Workshop located at Meerut overhauls air defence and guided missiles systems. It carries out overhaul of Schilka and Kvadrat weapon systems, multi-barrel rocket launchers and specialist heavy-duty vehicles.

The 512 Army Base Workshop takes credit for upgrading T-55 tanks in the 70s under Project May flower and Sun flower. In the late 80s, T-55 tanks overhauled with Polish technology rolled out of its production line. At present, it is undertaking overhaul of T-55 and its variants.

Originally known as 10 Advance Base Ordnance Workshop, 515 Army Base Workshop undertakes repairs of 'B' vehicles, small arms, armaments and engineering equipment. At present, it is manufacturing simulators for the Army and para-military forces. One Advance Base Workshop looks after the equipment in the Eastern Theatre.

EME's 3 Advance Base Workshop undertakes base repairs for units in Northern Command like overhaul of guns and engines. Recently it has become a nodal centre for repair of thermal imaging and electronics equipment. It has also designed, developed and manufactured electronic equipment like Ashi Pillai which has been instrumental in saving valuable lives in counter-insurgency operations.

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