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Northern Command

The Northern Command is based in Udhampur and consists of three Corps, the XIV, XV, and XVI. All units are deployed along the Line of Control in Kashmir with the exceptions of the 39th Infantry Division, and the 2nd, 3rd, and 16th Independent Armored Brigades.

The military standoff with China has been going on for over two years now when the Chinese side attempted to change the status quo unilaterally by moving troops in large numbers against Indian positions. To bolster the Northern Command, in 2022 the Indian Army assigned two Divisions of the One Strike Corps to take care of the Ladakh sector as additional or reserve forces, top government sources told India Today 15 May 2022. The One Strike Corps was earlier totally focused on the Pakistan front but now will shift its focus towards the Northern borders. One division from Rashtriya Rifles was taken out from counter-terrorism roles from Jammu and Kashmir and has now been deployed in the Eastern Ladakh sector and would be there along with the 3 Division already based there. Down below in Uttarakhand, a Division from a Strike Corps in Haryana has been reassigned to the Central Command to look after the Central sector where the Chinese have been staking claims.

Prior to Independence, Northern Command Headquarters was located at Rawalpindi, and it was responsible for the defence of North West India. After Partition, the Command Headquarters was allocated to Pakistan. In India, a new Headquarters designated as Western Command was located at Shimla to look after the Northern borders with Pakistan and some portions of Tibet.

The need for a separate Headquarters in the North was felt during 1948 war itself. The experience of wars in 1962, 1965 and 1971 reinforced the conviction that geo-strategically Northern Theatre was too important to be effectively commanded by a Headquarters based at Shimla. The 1965 and 1971 Wars demonstrated that the area under General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command was too vast for effective command.

Accordingly, in 1971, duplicate headquarters with duplicated staff were set up at Shimla and Bhatinda. After 1971, Headquarter Northern Command was established at Udhampur, taking over responsibility for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

It was decided in June 1972 to raise Northern Command at Udhampur, with two corps under it, to look after the defence of this region. This strength has now increased to three corps. Northern Command now controls this sensitive region of the country which covers the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir and contiguous portions of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

The first GOC-in-C of Northern Command was Lt Gen PS Bhagat. The command has been in the operational mode since its very inception. It saw a number of high and low intensity operations. Today, the command complements to the nation's efforts in countering the most serious challenge to her security, namely, the scourge of terrorism and proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir.

Troops of the Northern Command have been manning the highest battlefield in the world at Siachen. The average altitude of the posts varies from 15,000 to 23,000 ft here. The battle is not just against the enemy but also sub zero conditions, extreme wind chill, deep crevasses frost bite and hypoxia. Operation Vijay was possibly Northern Command's finest hour. It was a unique operation marked with unparalleled bravery, guts, determination and sacrifice beyond the call of duty.

This command has played a crucial role in fighting against the proxy war that began in 1990. Over 18,000 terrorists have been killed, more than 80 tons of explosives and almost 40,000 weapons have been recovered. The command also took the onus of fencing the Line of Control to curtail the levels of infiltration and exfiltration.

The greatest battle that the Northern Army has been fighting is for the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. A sum of over Rs. 50 crore has been spent on operation Sadbhavna so far to carryout development projects in this area. This year there has been a quantum jump in the scope and scale of this operation. Trials are underway to use water mills in the villages as microhydel plants. If successful, these plants could usher in a mini revolution at the grassroots level.

The XIV Corps is the field formation that is responsible for Ladakh and Kargil, and is responsible for intelligence about enemy positions near the Line of Control. The Kargil operation in 1999 was primarily the responsibity of the 8 Mountain Division, the formation that was rushed there after the intrusions were detected in May 1999. 56 Mountain Brigade deployed two battalions to contain intrusions in Mashkoh and Dras while the third battalion (18 Grenadiers) established the crucial firm base 1000 feet below Tololing at 15,000 feet. 8 Mountain Div was tasked to clear nearly 50 pockets of intrusions in Mashkoh. Of the 16 battalions involved in the war, only 10 were employed at Kargil. 8 Mountain Division played a major role in evicting intrusions and defeating the Pakistan army at Kargil. It switched in 1990 from a counterinsurgency division in the North-East to the Srinagar valley and now to a high altitude mountain division at Kargil.

Lieutenant General V.G. Patankar on 31 December 2001 assumed command of the most challenging and prestigious corps of the Indian Army - the Srinagar-based 15 Corps. Lt. Gen. Patankar replaced Lt. Gen. J.R. Mukherjee, who proceeds to Eastern Command HQ, Kolkata.

XVI Corps is believed to be one of the largest corps in the world as it consists of five divisions.

As of mid-1999 there were two divisions, comprising approximately 15,000 soldiers each, manning the LoC and the Line of Actual Control with China from Kargil to Siachen. While the 8 Mountain Division had been given sole charge of guarding 150 kilometers of the border in the Kargil sector, the 3 Infantry Division was in charge of Siachen and the Aksai Chin border. Significantly, as the 15 Corps mobilised its forces for the counter attack and elements of the 18 Mountain Division poured into the various sectors of Kargil, the people of Jammu & Kashmir were steadfast against the enemy forces.

With the induction of 14 Corps in to Ladakh, the supply-load on the Army Service Corps (ASC) has increased tremendously. Given the politico-military situation on India's borders, a large portion of the Army is deployed in some of the most inhospitable terrain with complementary climatic conditions where supply of even the simplest of essentials is achieved by a herculean effort. The recent induction of the new XIV Corps in Ladakh has undeniably put a huge strain on the logistics aspects.

As of early 2002 these units had been joined by Central Command's I Corps Strike Force consisting of three divisions.

The Indian Army announced the creation of its new command known as South Western Command with its Headquarters at Jaipur, which formally came into being on 18 April 2005. the South-Western Command, will operate in conjunction with the Udhampur-based Northern Command and Chandimandir-based Western Command. The reallocation of forces to the South-Western Command from Northern Command and Western Command was not immediately apparent.

For an effective operational preparedness in the western sector, in mid-2005 Indian Army raised a new corps at Yol Cantt in Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh. The new corps, christened 9 Corps, comprises 26 and 29 Infantry Divisions, which had previously been allocated to XVI Corps / Nagrota Corps, and a number of brigades.

In January 2007 an army court held a three-star general guilty of lapses in the procurement of frozen mutton. Lt. Gen. S.K. Dahiya of the Army Service Corps (ASC) was indicted for the lapses while serving as a major general with the Udhampur-based Northern Command that guards the country's borders with Pakistan and China. The verdict could lead to his dismissal by the president, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces. Four other officers were also held guilty. Dahiya, who was serving in south India, challenged the verdict in the Delhi High Court.

In 2014 India decided to start work on militarily crucial strategic railway lines in the Himalayas to connect areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), dividing India and China, with the mainland India. The rail lines would enable rapid deployment of forces over the rugged, inhospitable and mostly snow-bound terrains. This would enable rapid deployment of troops, especially the newly created Mountain Strike Corps mandated to face China. The railway line being built in Kashmir had a dual purpose - socio-economic and strategic. The other existing narrow gauge lines in Himachal Pradesh and Northern Bengal were of British vintage.

In a bid to strengthen infrastructure along the China border, India government began the final location survey of the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2017. This 498-kilometer rail network would pass at a height of 3,300 meters which makes it to the highest rail track in the world, overtaking China's Qinghai-Tibet Railway. India's railway minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the final survey work funded by defense ministry on 27 June 2017. The project involves the construction of 498-km railway line through Bilaspur, Mandi, Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh and passes through Zoji La, Kargil to Leh. India wanted to complete the final survey work by the first quarter of 2019 and laying work of rail track by 2022.

Northern CommmandUdhampur 3293'N7513'E

XIV Corps
Leh, Ladakh 3410'N7735'E

U/I Artillery BDE
U/I Location ____'N____'E

3 Infantry Division
Leh 3410'N7735'E

8 Mountain Division
Nimer 2731'N7532'E

XV Corps
Srinagar 3405'N7449'E

U/I Artillery BDE
U/I Location ____'N____'E

19 Infantry Division
Baramulla 3434'N7445'E

28 Mountain Division
Gurais / Gurez 3438'N7450'E

XVI Corps / Nagrota Corps
Nagrota, Jammu 3249'N7455'E

2nd Ind Armor BDE
U/I Location ____'N____'E

3rd Ind Armor BDE
U/I Location ____'N____'E

16th Ind Armor BDE
U/I Location ____'N____'E

U/I Artillery BDE
U/I Location ____'N____'E

10 Infantry Division
Akhnur 3253'N7444'E

25 Infantry Division
Rajouri 3315'N7415'E
26 Infantry DivisionJammu 3244'N7452'E
29 Infantry DivisionPathankot 3217'N7539'E

39 Infantry Division
Yol 3210'N7612'E

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Page last modified: 20-06-2022 19:07:14 ZULU