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Western Command

The prestigious Western Command is headquartered at Chandimadir and is responsible for Punjab and Rajasthan. It consists of three corps, the II, X, and the XI. The Vice Chief of Army Staff has unique distinction of commanding Army Training Command (ARTRAC) and Western Command of the Indian Army.

Western Command is the largest operational Command of the Indian Army. Raised on 15 Sep 1947 with its Headquarters at Delhi, it was then called Delhi and East Punjab Command and controlled all formations with an operational role in the territorial areas of the present Western, South Western and Northern Armies. The 1947-48 Kashmir War was fought with an evolving Indian higher command set-up. The ad hoc Delhi and East Punjab command, created to control the widespread communal disturbances and tackle the refugee migration problem, soon gave way to a resurrected Headquarters Western Command.

It was redesignated as Western Command in January 1948. In 1954, the HQ of the Command moved to 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 the Indo-Pak Conflict of 1971, Northern Command, with its Headquarters at Udhampur, was carved out of it to assume operational responsibility of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Sihmla was considered unsuitable for Headquarters Western Command and so was moved to its present location at Chandimandir in 1985 with Punjab and Northern Rajasthan under its jurisdiction. In 2005, consequent to the raising of South Western Command, the areas of responsibility of the Command were readjusted. Today Western Command guards the heartland of the country including parts of J&K.

Western Command has activity participated in all the wars since Independence. It was instrumental in effectively blunting the Pakistan aggression in 1947, 1965 and 1971, and subsequently carrying the battle into enemy territory, thereby underlining the courage and offensive spirit of the men who form part of this Command.

During the period when militancy was at its peak in Punjab, Western Command rendered yeoman service in combating militancy and restoring normalcy and faith of civilians in the democratically installed Government. Besides controlling militancy. The valiant troops of Western Command did a commendable job in helping the civil administration in conducting peaceful elections during 1992. They also won the hearts and minds of the people of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh by rescuing marooned people in areas devastated by unprecedented floods in 1993 and 2005 and was involved in flood affected areas of Bihar and Punjab. The Command also provided timely medical aid to cyclone hit areas of Myanmar.

In December 2001, homage was paid to war martyrs at a solemn ceremony held at the Command War Memorial, Veer Smriti on the ocassion of 54th anniversary of the raising of Western Command. The GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lt Gen Surjit Singh, on behalf of all ranks, laid a wreath at the memorial in Chandimandir Cantonment.

II Corps, headquartered at Ambala in peacetime, is the most important of the Indian Army's three armor-intensive strike formations, and its task in case of a war would be to cut across the Cholistan desert towards Jacobabad, cutting Pakistan in two. 2 Corps, also known as the Strike Corps, plays a key role in times of conflicts. The II Corps holds almost 50 per cent of the Indian strike capabilities and although based at Ambala it is responsible for guarding the borders till Ganganagar. II Corps is a strike force that includes an armoured division, which is capable of intruding deep into enemy territory.

In early January 2002 Lt Gen Kapil Vij, General Officer Commanding of the strike corps involved in the build-up deployed in the Rajasthan sector on the Indo-Pak border, proceeded on leave amidst conflicting reports about the reason. In view of the prevailing situation, the government asked Lt Gen B S Thakur to take charge pending approval by the Cabinet committee on appointments. General Vij was carrying out new tactics a little too close to the International Border for the government's comfort. Removing Lt. Gen. Kapil Vij, suddenly and unceremoniously from the command of 2 Corps, sent shock waves throughout the serving soldiers as well as war veterans alike. The Defence Ministry termed as "totally baseless" reports that Lt Gen Kapil Vij had been shifted from the strike 2 Corps due to "external pressure or at the direction of the Prime Minister's Office".

According to one report, Lt.-Gen. Vij was replaced by Lt.-Gen. B. S. Thakur because Vij went beyond his brief and moved the 111 missile regiment. US satellites photographed them and confronted New Delhi with evidence. The Indian government's position all along was that the Indian military build-up was conventional, and there would be no nuclear posturing.

According to another version, Vij's mistake, according to some reports, was to take his war mandate seriously. His armor was pushed close to the border, and the soldier protested instructions from Western Army Commander Lt-Gen. Surjit Singh Sangra to pull back. As part of an unofficial understanding, the Indian Army keeps its armored elements east of the Indira Gandhi Canal, which by and large runs parallel to the border. The Pakistani armor keeps a similar distance on its side of the border. Reports said that 2 Corps elements penetrated this buffer, moving up to a distance of just 2 km short of the border.

As of early 2002 it was reported that Western Command's II Corps had been reinforced by the 31st Armored Division from Central Command.

In May 2002, it was reported that the II corps, usually based in Ambala, had moved its armored and mechanised units. The movement of armoured units is always closely watched because they are perceived to be assault forces in times of conflict in the plains. Other mobilised hardware include bridging equipment and field artillery. This series of movements began around late April 2002. The movements were possibly part of an exercise that has been codenamed either "Operation Parakram II" and/or "Operation Brahmashava". The movements were confined largely to the Suratgarh-Ganganagar area in Rajasthan but could be covering a part of Punjab as well. This is roughly the time for the 1 and 2 (both strike) corps to conduct its exercises.

As of mid-2004 plans to integrate the Desert Corps to the Southern Command under the new command formation, were still at a primitive stage. The Desert Corps was at that time under the Western Command.

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.

The Integrated Battle Group (IBG) is a brand new war fighting concept that includes cross-border strike capability mooted by the Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat in December 2018. The decision to deploy the group came against the backdrop of worsening relations between the two nuclear-armed countries. The Indian Army decided to deploy a newly restructured army battalion specialising in conducting cross border strikes near the Pakistan border in next few months, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said. “The international border portion of Jammu and Kashmir will see reorganisation first followed by others, making the Indian Army a leaner and meaner fighting unit", General Rawat said while adding that the restructuring of the Indian Army's combat potential will happen “selectively from sector to sector”.

The Indian Army's "Land Warfare Doctrine 2018" promulgates capability enhancement and mentioned the creation of 10-12 integrated battle groups to enable deterrence along its western borders. "All forces shall be applied as Integrated Battle Groups, with equipment profile matched with envisaged role and exploitation potential, to provide greater flexibility in force application", the document reads.

Each IBG would be larger than the existing 3,000 personnel-strong brigades, but smaller than a 10,000-strong division. It would be headed by a two-star officer. "Our response along the Western Front will be sharp and swift with the aim of destroying the centre of gravity of the adversary and securing spatial gains", the document reads. As per the plan, Indian Army will employ "composite" IBGs comprising a mix of five to six battalions to execute conventional combat operations for "greater flexibility in force application".

Western ComChandimadir __°__'N__°__'E

40th Artillery Div
Ambala 30°53'N76°57'E

II Corps
Ambala Punjab 30°53'N76°57'E

14th Ind Armor BDE
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U/I Artillery BDE
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U/I Air Def BDE
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U/I Engineer BDE
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U/I Helicopter Sqdrn
U/I Location __°__'N__°__'E

1 Armored Division
Ambala 30°53'N76°57'E

14 RAPID Div
Golden Key
Dehradun 30°19'N78°02'E

22 Infantry Division - Ram Division

IX Corps / Rising Star
Yol Cantt

26 Infantry Division
Jammu 32°44'N74°52'E

29 Infantry Division - Mace Division
Pathankot 32°17'N75°39'E

XI Corps
Punjab __°__'N__°__'E

23rd Armored BDE
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55th Mech BDE
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U/I Artillery BDE
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7 Infantry Division

9 Infantry Division - Pine Division
U/I Location __°__'N__°__'E

15 Infantry Division
Amritsar 31°37'N74°51'E

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