Army Chief Gen MM Naravane has said that a comprehensive “test-bedding” of the Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) was concluded but its roll out has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Army planned to introduce the IBGs, comprising a mix of infantry, artillery, air defence, tanks and logistics units, as part of a far reaching revamp of its war fighting capability, particularly along the borders with China and Pakistan.
“The roll out of the IBGs has been delayed due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the need to divert critical resources towards containment efforts,” the Army Chief told PTI.
“However, I can assure you that we will roll out the IBGs in the requisite time frame as the conceptual groundwork has already been laid out and extensive test-bedding had already been carried out prior to the outbreak,” he said.
The Army Chief also said that there could be some disruptions in defence production and procurement in the wake of the pandemic, but it will be a “temporary phase”.
After years of deliberations, the Army decided to raise the IBGs along the borders with China and Pakistan that will help it carry out swift strikes in case of a war. Each IBG will be headed by a Major General and comprise around 5,000 troops.
Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in October, the Indian Army carried out the “Him Vijay” exercise in Arunachal Pradesh primarily to test the effectiveness of the IBGs in mountain combat exercise.
Each IBG would be modelled on specific operational requirement considering the topography as well as threat perceptions.
Asked whether the financial burden triggered by the pandemic will have a bearing on the Army’s long pending military procurement programme, he said it may have some impact in the short term.