Boost to Army: CCS clears 50,000-strong strike corps for China border

FP

Boosting the Army's fighting capabilities along the Line of Actual Control, the government Wednesday gave the go-ahead to the creation of a corps, including deployment of 50,000 additional troops, along the China border at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crore.

Related: China agrees to Indian condition on not freezing troop levels

The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the proposal in its meeting, said sources. Army Chief General Bikram Singh and IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne were also present at the PMO for providing any clarifications sought by the CCS members.

As part of the plan, the Army is expected to raise the new corps' headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal, along with two divisions in Bihar and Assam and other units, from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. The IAF will also deploy its force multiplier assets such as six mid-air refuelling tankers and six C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft at Panagarh.

The existing strike corps are all based close to the Pakistan border and are mainly armed to fight a land battle, unlike the new corps which will focus on mountain warfare.

The Army will raise the troops and formations in the next seven years. It will also get a number of new armoured and artillery divisions to be deployed along the Northeast region.

The force is also planning to procure ultra-light howitzers, light tanks and helicopters to be deployed along the LAC, said sources. The Army and IAF plan to deploy ballistic and cruise missile units in the Northeast and have activated several helipads and airfields in the sector.

The government has cleared the formation of the new corps just a few days before India and China are expected to discuss the border defence cooperation agreement.

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