The Indian security establishment is considering the largest-ever upgrade of military capabilities along the China border as it tries to catch up with the militarily advanced neighbour.
Sources told TOI that the defence ministry has proposed the setting up of a Mountain Strike Corps and two Independent Brigades along the China border. The proposed corps would be India's fourth strike corps and the only one dedicated for offensive operations in mountainous terrain.
When contacted, a senior Army official looking after media affairs denied any such move. However, authoritative sources said the Cabinet Committee on Security is set to consider the proposal in the coming weeks. Once approved, the proposal would lead to a massive upgrade in India's military capabilities, and would be a huge step-up of Army presence along the border.
A senior official in the security establishment told TOI that the entire proposal was part of Army leadership's "vision" to catch up with China in military capabilities. The entire effort was "defensive in nature", he said.
Presently, Indian Army is engaged in raising two mountain divisions along the border with the giant neighbour. The proposed strike corps and two independent brigades would be separate from the two divisions being raised, he said.
The Army proposal, now under consideration at the highest levels of the government, envisages an expenditure of Rs 9,500 crore. The cost is primarily for new equipment such as ultra light howitzers and helicopters required for creating these highly mobile units. Units of the strike corps, to be based somewhere in the northeast, would be capable of operating like rapid reaction forces. The strike corps would have two divisions and other support troops, TOI has learnt.
The Army proposal includes raising of an independent brigade in Ladakh, and another brigade in Uttarakhand. Sources within the security establishment have for long been worried about India's military weaknesses before China's intimidating military modernisation. Coupled with a weak infrastructure, India's situation has been worrying to security experts.
After the defeat of 1962, India abandoned infrastructure development along border areas with China for decades.