Integrated Airborne Battle Groups As Test Beds To Vetting The Concept
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar , Special Forces
Have you given a thought as to why Brigadiers are not considered as General Officers in British or Indian Army but are appointed as full fledged General Officers in the American Army . In the US Army the rank is accordingly also called Brigadier General .
It is because of a simple fact , that is, in the British or Indian Army , a Brigadier Commands just a particular type of Force that is Infantry or Armoured or Artillery or Engineers etc. Where as in the American Army , the Officer is directly commanding at all times ( even in peace ) a fighting Force composed of units of various Arms and Services . Since troops are of general variety and not confined to a particular genre, the Commander is a true General Officer and hence his rank is Brigadier General .
Not withstanding the above , even our Brigade Commanders perform as a General Officer during operations when units of other Arms / Services are placed under Command . However there is lot of existing lacunae in such ad hoc compositions and in spite of handling such forces , the Commander still does not get his dues as a General Officer either in the Military or in the Civil.
So our Chief General Bipin Rawat rightly says that “ we are preparing ground to keep the Forces ready for any future eventuality . Our organizational structure is old and therefore it needs a Change .” A change is certainly needed . However any change in the existing structure must only be undertaken if it enhances the operational capability , otherwise it needs to be flatly rejected . Once it is clear that operational capabilities will increase then other cosmetic / Administrative / Regimental changes may be pushed through , though taking care that there is no impediment or deviation from the primary aim .
Prudence also demands that any change on a massive scale , at first must pass the basic tests and there is nothing better than to carry out live experimental tests. So once again the Chief has rightly said that “ we are going to test bed the Integrated Battle Group very soon . I am suggesting that we be integrated in peacetime to save the time wasted in integrating while going for combat . Various units of infantry , Armoured , artillery , engineers , signals are already assigned to an area . We now want them to be ready in peace time also . “
These IBGs are likely to be composed of 4x Infantry battalions , 2x artillery regiments , 1x Engineer Group , 1x Signals Group and 1x Integrated Logistics Group. Here , along with the idea of IBG , we need to try out a new thing that is an Infantry battalion with just three rifle companies . There will be massive objection to this from blue blooded infantry but to me it appears very normal as my Unit always had just three Companies or groups or teams as they have been called ( nowadays they have four though ). Come to think of it , our organizational brick works on 3s ……3x sections , 3x Platoon , 3x battalions , 3x brigades and so on . So why not try this out . At the Corps level , operating with say 9x IBG , there will 36 infantry battalions with 108 Rifle Companies . This matches with present 27 Infantry battalions with 108 Rifle Companies. Though now there will be nine Major Generals commanding these IBGs .
Along with the raising of IBGs there is also a transformation study going on for Cadre Restructuring . In the restructuring there is a talk of doing away with the rank of Brigadier , just like the retrograde step of erasing the rank of 2/Lt . Presently at Corps level in the Indian Army we have 21 Brigadiers , 4 Major Generals and one Lt General . The aim of creating more opportunity and at the same time ensuring proper operational flexibility and administrative stability will be fulfilled by not eliminating the rank of Brigadier but by upgrading the rank of Brigadier to that of Brigadier General . The rank badges will be Sword and baton with one star , while that of Major General will then have two stars . The Brigadier General will be placed in Pay Level 14 of Defence Pay Matrix , irrespective whether Major General moves to Level 15 or not . After the cadre restructuring the promotions from the rank of Lt Colonel up to Major General will be both by selection and by Time Scale .
So with 12 IBGs with 12 Major Generals , there will also be 12 Brigadier Generals as Deputy Commanders. In the Corps HQ, as it is there will be 08 Brigadier Generals on the Staff . The four artillery Brigadier Generals will each be manning the four Fire Direction Centre in the Corps Zone . So now the Corps will be having 25 Brigadier Generals , 13 Major Generals and one Lt Gen .
Next coming to the plan of test bedding the idea of the IBG ….it should be implemented straightway . Candidates for this test bedding should be one Division in each of the Commands and of course one Airborne IBG and one Amphibious IBG.
Top most priority should be given to test the efficacy of the Airborne IBG and convert the existing 50 Parachute Brigade into an IBG . More or less it is already a functional IBG . Augmentation may be needed in terms of a Regiment of Mechanized infantry ( 12 Mech former 8 PARA will be the right choice ), a Regiment of Artillery ( 17 Para ) , medical elements , logistic elements and allotment of a Team / Troop of Special Forces ( permanent affiliation basis ). Once the experiment is successful then post haste a similar IBG will be required for placement at a suitable high altitude location. For the Amphibious IBG , the brigade in A&N is the most ideal candidate.