Indian Army

This article is about the Indian Army since 1947. For the earlier period, see Military history of India.
Indian Army

Crest of the Indian Army
Founded 1 April 1895 (1895-04-01)
Country  India
Type Army
Size 1,200,255 active personnel[1]
990,960 reserve personnel[2]
136 aircraft[3]
Part of Indian Armed Forces
Headquarters New Delhi
Motto(s) "Service Before Self"
Colors Gold, red and black
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Dalbir Singh Suhag[4]
Vice Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat [5]
Field Marshal K M Cariappa
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
Aircraft flown
Helicopter HAL Rudra
Transport HAL Dhruv, HAL Chetak, HAL Cheetah and Cheetal

The Indian Army is the land-based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India serves as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army,[6] and it is commanded by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), who is a four-star General. Two officers have been conferred with the rank of Field marshal, a five-star rank, which is a ceremonial position of great honour. The Indian Army originated from the armies of the East India Company, which eventually became the British Indian Army, and the armies of the princely states, which finally became the national army after independence. The units and regiments of the Indian Army have diverse histories and have participated in a number of battles and campaigns across the world, earning a large number of battle and theatre honours before and after Independence.[7]

The primary mission of the Indian Army is to ensure national security and unity, defending the nation from external aggression and threats, and maintaining peace and security within its borders. It conducts humanitarian rescue operations during natural calamities and other disturbances, like Operation Surya Hope, and can also be requisitioned by the government to cope with internal threats. It is a major component of national power alongside the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.[8] The army has been involved in four wars with neighbouring Pakistan and one with China. Other major operations undertaken by the army include Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot and Operation Cactus. Apart from conflicts, the army has conducted large peace time exercises like Operation Brasstacks and Exercise Shoorveer, and it has also been an active participant in numerous United Nations peacekeeping missions including the ones in Cyprus, Lebanon, Congo, Angola, Cambodia, Vietnam, Namibia, El Salvador, Liberia, Mozambique and Somalia.

The Indian Army has a regimental system, but is operationally and geographically divided into seven commands, with the basic field formation being a division. It is an all-volunteer force and comprises more than 80% of the country's active defence personnel. It is the 2nd largest standing army in the world, with 1,200,255[2][1] active troops and 990,960 reserve troops.[2] The army has embarked on an infantry modernisation program known as Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System (F-INSAS), and is also upgrading and acquiring new assets for its armoured, artillery and aviation branches.[9][10][11]


Indian Army
New Delhi
History and traditions
Indian military history
British Indian Army
Indian National Army
Equipment of the Indian Army
Chief of Army Staff
Ranks and insignia
Para Special Forces

British Indian Army

Main article: British Indian Army
No. 4 (Hazara) Mountain Battery with RML7 pounder "Steel Gun" Mountain Gun in Review Order. Left to right Naick, Havaldar, Subadar (Sikhs) and Gunner (Punjabi Musalman) circa 1895.

A Military Department was created within the Government of the East India Company at Kolkata in the year 1776. Its main function was to sift and record orders relating to the Army that were issued by various Departments of the East India Company for the territories under its control.[12]

With the Charter Act of 1833, the Secretariat of the Government of the East India Company was reorganised into four Departments, including a Military Department. The army in the Presidencies of Bengal, Bombay & Madras functioned as respective Presidency Army until April 1895, when the Presidency Armies were unified into a single Indian Army on 1 April.[13][14][15][16] For administrative convenience, it was divided into four commands at that point of time, namely Punjab (including the North West Frontier), Bengal, Madras (including Burma) and Bombay (including Sind, Quetta and Aden).[17]

The British Indian Army was a critical force for the primacy of the British Empire both in India and across the world. Besides maintaining the internal security of the British Raj, the Army fought in many other theatres Anglo-Burmese Wars, First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars, First, Second and Third Anglo-Afghan Wars, First and Second Opium Wars in China, Abyssinia, Boxer Rebellion in China.

World Wars

French postcard depicting the arrival of 15th Sikh Regiment in France during World War I. The postcard reads, "Gentlemen of India marching to chasten the German hooligans".
A Sikh soldier of the 4th Division (the Red Eagles) of the Indian Army, attached to the British Fifth Army in Italy. Holding a captured swastika after the surrender of German forces in Italy, May 1945. Behind him, a fascist inscriptions says "VIVA IL DUCE", "Long live the Duce" (i.e. Mussolini).

In the 20th century, the Indian Army was a crucial adjunct to the British forces in both the World Wars. 1.3 million Indian soldiers served in World War I (1914–1918) for the Allies, in which 74,187 Indian troops were killed or missing in action.[18] In 1915 there was a mutiny by Indian soldiers in Singapore. After the United Kingdom made promises of self-governance to the Indian National Congress in return for its support. Britain reneged on its promises after the war, following which the Indian Independence movement gained strength.

The "Indianisation" of the British Indian Army began with the formation of the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College at Dehradun in March 1912 with the purpose of providing education to the scions of aristocratic and well-to-do Indian families and to prepare selected Indian boys for admission into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Indian officers given a King's commission after passing out were posted to one of the eight units selected for Indianisation. Political pressure being applied due to the slow pace of Indianisation, with just 69 officers being commissioned between 1918 and 1932, led to the formation of the Indian Military Academy in 1932 and greater numbers of officers of Indian origin being commissioned.[19]

In World War II Indian soldiers fought for the Allies. In 1939, British officials had no plan for expansion and training of Indian forces, which comprised about 130,000 men (in addition there were 44,000 men in British units in India in 1939). Their mission was internal security and defence against a possible Soviet threat through Afghanistan. As the war progressed, the size and role of the Indian Army expanded dramatically, and troops were sent to battle fronts as soon as possible. The most serious problem was lack of equipment.[20] Indian units served in Burma, where in 1944–45 five Indian divisions were engaged along with one British and three African divisions. Even larger numbers operated in the Middle East. Some 87,000 Indian soldiers died in the war. By the end of the war it had become the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men in August 1945.[21][22]

In the African and Middle-Eastern Campaigns, captured Indian troops were given a choice to join the German Army to eventually "liberate" India from Great Britain instead of being sent to POW camps. These men, along with Indian students who were in Germany when the war broke out, made up what was called the Free India Legion. They were originally intended as pathfinders for German forces in Asia but they soon were sent to help guard the Atlantic Wall. Few who were part of the Free India Legion ever saw any combat and very few were ever stationed outside of Europe. At its height the Free India Legion had over 3,000 troops in its ranks.[23]

Indian POWs also joined the Indian National Army, which was allied with the Empire of Japan, was raised by a former col of British Indian Army (Gen) Mohan Singh but later led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Rash Bihari Bose. With the fall of Singapore in 1942, about 40,000 Indian soldiers were captured. They were given a choice and over 30,000 joined the Indian National Army. Those who refused became POWs and were mostly shipped to New Guinea.[24] After initial success it was defeated along with Japanese but it had huge impact on Indian independence movement. Similar organisations were also made in Germany and Japan. In 1946 Indian sailors revolted against British in the 1946 British Indian Navy Mutiny.

Soldiers from the Grenadier Regiment during 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade.

Post independence

Main article: Indian Army Day

Upon independence and the subsequent Partition of India in 1947, four of the ten Gurkha regiments were transferred to the British Army. The rest of the British Indian Army was divided between the newly created nations of Republic of India and Republic of Pakistan. The Punjab Boundary Force, which had been formed to help police the Punjab during the partition period, was disbanded,[25] and Headquarters Delhi and East Punjab Command was formed to administer the area.

Conflicts and operations

First Kashmir War (1947)

Immediately after independence, tensions between India and Pakistan began to boil over, and the first of three full-scale wars between the two nations broke out over the then princely state of Kashmir. The Maharaja of Kashmir wanted to have standstill position. Since, Kashmir was Muslim majority state, Pakistan wanted to make Kashmir a Pakistan territory. In 1948, Pakistan invaded, Kashmir, as a result, Maharaja Hari Singh appealed to India, and to Lord Mountbatten of Burma, the Governor General, for help. He signed the Instrument of Accession to India. It took 2 weeks for Indian forces to reach war front. Indian troops were airlifted to Srinagar.[26] This contingent included General Thimayya who distinguished himself in the operation and in years that followed, became a Chief of the Indian Army. An intense war was waged across the state and former comrades found themselves fighting each other. Pakistan suffered significant losses. Its forces were stopped on the line formed which is now called LOC (Line of Control).

An uneasy UN sponsored peace returned by the end of 1948 with Indian and Pakistani soldiers facing each other directly on the Line of Control, which has since divided Indian-held Kashmir from Pakistan-held Kashmir. A number of UN resolutions (38–47) were passed calling for a plebiscite to be held in Kashmir to determine accession to India or Pakistan.[27] A precondition to the resolution was for Pakistan and India to return to a state of "as was" prior to the conflict. Pakistan would withdraw all tribesmen and Pakistani nationals brought in to fight in Kashmir. With Pakistan refusing to pull back there could be no further dialogue on fulfilling the UN resolution.[28][29] Tensions between India and Pakistan, largely over Kashmir, have never since been entirely eliminated.

Annexation of Hyderabad (1948)

Major General El Edroos (at right) offers his surrender of the Hyderabad State Forces to Major General (later Army Chief) J.N. Chaudhuri at Secunderabad
Main article: Operation Polo

After the partition of India, the State of Hyderabad, a princely state under the rule of a Nizam, chose to remain independent. The Nizam, refused to accede his state to the Union of India. The following stand-off between the Government of India and the Nizam ended on 12 September 1948 when India's then deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel ordered Indian troops to secure the state. With 5 days of low-intensity fighting, the Indian Army, backed by a squadron of Hawker Tempest aircraft of the Indian Air Force, routed the Hyderabad State forces. Five infantry battalions and one armoured squadron of the Indian Army were engaged in the operation. The following day, the State of Hyderabad was proclaimed as a part of the Union of India. Major General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri, who led the Operation Polo was appointed the Military Governor of Hyderabad (1948–1949) to restore law and order.

Medical assistance during Korean War (1950–1953)

Main article: Korean War

During the Korean War, India sent the 60th Indian (Parachute) Field Ambulance unit to aid the UN troops fighting against the Chinese and North Korean invasion of South Korea, though they decided against sending combat forces. The 60th PFA was included in the 1st Commonwealth Division. In the aftermath of the war, an Indian infantry brigade formed the Custodian Force of India as part of the soldiers were also sent to Korea as part of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Committee to assist in the exchange of prisoners of war. The NNRC was commanded by Lt Gen KS Thimayya.

Annexation of Goa, Daman and Diu (1961)

Main article: Portuguese-Indian War
The Indian Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Pran Nath Thapar (far right) with deposed Governor General of Portuguese India Manuel António Vassalo e Silva (seated centre) at a POW facility in Vasco Da Gama, Goa

Even though the British and French vacated all their colonial possessions in the Indian subcontinent, Portugal refused to relinquish control of its Indian colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu. After repeated attempts by India to negotiate with Portugal for the territory were spurned by Portuguese prime minister and dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, India launched Operation Vijay on 12 December 1961 to take Goa from the Portuguese. A small contingent of its troops entered Goa, Daman, and Diu to capture and secure the territory. After a brief conflict, in which 31 Portuguese soldiers were killed, the Portuguese Navy frigate NRP Afonso de Albuquerque destroyed, and over 3,000 Portuguese captured, Portuguese General Manuel António Vassalo e Silva surrendered to Maj Gen KP Candeth (Kunhiraman Palat Kandoth) of the Indian Army, after twenty-six hours and Goa, Daman and Diu joined the Indian Union.

Sino-Indian War (1962)

Main article: Sino-Indian War

The cause of the war was a dispute over the sovereignty of the widely separated Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh border regions. Aksai Chin, claimed by India to belong to Kashmir and by China to be part of Xinjiang, contains an important road link that connects the Chinese regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. China's construction of this road was one of the triggers of the conflict.

Small-scale clashes between the Indian and Chinese forces broke out as India insisted on the disputed McMahon Line being regarded as the international border between the two countries. Chinese troops claim to have not retaliated to the cross-border firing by Indian troops, despite sustaining losses.[30] China's suspicion of India's involvement in Tibet created more rifts between the two countries.[31]

In 1962, the Indian Army was ordered to move to the Thag La ridge located near the border between Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh and about three miles (5 km) north of the disputed McMahon Line. Meanwhile, Chinese troops too had made incursions into Indian-held territory and tensions between the two reached a new high when Indian forces discovered a road constructed by China in Aksai Chin. After a series of failed negotiations, the People's Liberation Army attacked Indian Army positions at the Thag La ridge. This move by China caught India by surprise and by 12 October, Nehru gave orders for the Chinese to be expelled from Aksai Chin. However, poor co-ordination among various divisions of the Indian Army and the late decision to mobilise the Indian Air Force in vast numbers gave China a crucial tactical and strategic advantage over India. On 20 October, Chinese soldiers attacked India in both the North-West and North-Eastern parts of the border and captured vast portions of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.

As the fighting moved beyond disputed territories, China called on the Indian government to negotiate, however India remained determined to regain lost territory. With no peaceful agreement in sight, China unilaterally withdrew its forces from Arunachal Pradesh. The reasons for the withdrawal are disputed with India claiming various logistical problems for China and diplomatic support to it from the United States, while China stated that it still held territory that it had staked diplomatic claim upon. The dividing line between the Indian and Chinese forces was named the Line of Actual Control.

The poor decisions made by India's military commanders, and, indeed, its political leadership, raised several questions. The Henderson-Brooks & Bhagat committee was soon set up by the Government of India to determine the causes of the poor performance of the Indian Army. The report of China even after hostilities began and also criticised the decision to not allow the Indian Air Force to target Chinese transport lines out of fear of Chinese aerial counter-attack on Indian civilian areas. Much of the blame was also targeted at the incompetence of then Defence Minister, Krishna Menon who resigned from his post soon after the war ended. Despite frequent calls for its release, the Henderson-Brooks report still remains classified.[32] Neville Maxwell has written an account of the war.[33]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

Destroyed or abandoned Pakistani Patton and Sherman tanks on display near Khem Karan. About 97 Pakistani tanks were either destroyed or captured by India during the Battle of Asal Uttar.[34][35]

A second confrontation with Pakistan took place in 1965. Although the war is described as inconclusive, India had the better of the war and was a clear winner in tactical and strategic terms.[36][37][38] Pakistani President Ayub Khan launched Operation Gibraltar in August 1965, during which several Pakistani paramilitary troops infiltrated into Indian-administered Kashmir and attempt to ignite an anti-India agitation in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani leaders believed that India, which was still recovering from the disastrous Sino-Indian War, would be unable to deal with a military thrust and a Kashmiri rebellion. India reacted swiftly and launched a counter offensive on Pakistan. Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam in reply on 1 September, invading India's Chamb-Jaurian sector. In retaliation, the Indian Army launched a major offensive throughout its border with Pakistan, with Lahore as its prime target.

Indian Army had captured a Police Station in Lahore, Pakistan after winning the Battle of Burki in the 1965 War.[39] It was later on left by them, after signing of the Tashkent Declaration.

Initially, the Indian Army met with considerable success in the northern sector. After launching prolonged artillery barrages against Pakistan, India was able to capture three important mountain positions in Kashmir. By 9 September, the Indian Army had made considerable in-roads into Pakistan. India had its largest haul of Pakistani tanks when the offensive of Pakistan's 1st Armoured Division was blunted at the Battle of Asal Uttar, which took place on 10 September near Khemkaran.[40] The biggest tank battle of the war came in the form of the Battle of Chawinda, the largest tank battle in history after World War II. Pakistan's defeat at the Battle of Asal Uttar hastened the end of the conflict.[40]

At the time of ceasefire declaration, India reported casualties of about 3,000 killed. On the other hand, it was estimated that more than 4,000 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the battle.[41][42][43] About 471 Pakistani tanks were either destroyed or captured by India. India lost a total of 128 tanks during the conflict.[40][44] The decision to return to pre-war positions, following the Tashkent Declaration, caused an outcry among the polity in New Delhi. It was widely believed that India's decision to accept the ceasefire was due to political factors, and not military, since it was facing considerable pressure from the United States and the UN to stop hostilities.[45]

1967 Sino-Indian Conflict

Main article: Cho La incident

The 1967 Sino-Indian skirmish, also known as the Cho La incident, was a military conflict between Indian troops and members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army who had infiltrated on 1 October 1967 in Sikkim, then a protectorate of India. On 10 October, once again both sides had the conflict, the Defence Minister of India, Sardar Swaran Singh addressed that government is looking after the developments across the borders. During whole conflict Indian losses were 88 killed, and 163 wounded, while Chinese casualties were 300 killed and 450 wounded in Nathula, and 40 in Chola.[46] The end of the battle saw the Chinese Army leave Sikkim after being defeated by Indian troops.[47][48][49]

Operation against the Naxalites during 1971

In the supervision of Indira Gandhi during the President's rule in 1971, the Indian Army along with the Indian police launched Operation Steeplechase, a gigantic "counter-insurgency" operation against the Naxalites, which resulted in the death of hundreds of Naxalites and imprisonment of more than 20,000 suspects and cadres including senior leaders.[50] The army was also assisted by a brigade of para commandos and the Indian paramilitary. The operation was choreographed in October 1969, and Lieutenant General J.F.R. Jacob was enjoined by Govind Narain, the Home Secretary of India, that "there should be no publicity and no records" and Jacob's request to be presented with written orders was also repudiate by Sam Manekshaw.[51]

Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971

Pakistan's Lt. Gen. A. A. K. Niazi signing the instrument of surrender in Dhaka on 16 Dec' 1971, in the presence of India's Lt. Gen. Aurora. Standing behind them are officers of India's Army, Navy and Air Force.

An independence movement broke out in East Pakistan which was brutally crushed by Pakistani forces. Due to large-scale atrocities against them, thousands of Bengalis took refuge in neighbouring India causing a major refugee crisis there. In early 1971, India declared its full-support for the Bengali rebels, known as Mukti Bahini, and Indian agents were extensively involved in covert operations to aid them.

On 20 November 1971, Indian Army moved the 14 Punjab Battalion 45 Cavalry into Garibpur, a strategically important town near India's border with East Pakistan, and successfully captured it. The following day, more clashes took place between Indian and Pakistani forces. Wary of India's growing involvement in the Bengali rebellion, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched a preemptive strike on 10 Indian air bases at Srinagar, Jammu, Pathankot, Amritsar, Agra, Adampur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Uttarlai and Sirsa at 1745 hours on 3 December. This aerial offensive, however, failed to accomplish its stated objectives and gave India its excuse to declare a full-scale war against Pakistan the same day. By midnight, the Indian Army, accompanied by Indian Air Force, launched a major three-pronged assault into East Pakistan. The Indian Army won several battles on the eastern front including the decisive of battle of Hilli, which was the only front where the Pakistani Army was able to build up considerable resistance. The operation also included a battalion-level airborne operation on Tangail which resulted in the capitulation of all resistance within five days.[52] India's massive early gains was largely attributed to the speed and flexibility with which Indian armoured divisions moved across East Pakistan.[53]

Indian Army personnel celebrate victory at the end Battle of Basantar on top of a knocked out Pakistani Patton tank.

Pakistan launched a counter-attack against India on the western front. On 4 December 1971, the A company of the 23rd Battalion of India's Punjab Regiment detected and intercepted the movement of the 51st Infantry Brigade of the Pakistani Army near Ramgarh, Rajasthan. The battle of Longewala ensued during which the A company, though being outnumbered, thwarted the Pakistani advance until the Indian Air Force directed its fighters to engage the Pakistani tanks. By the time the battle had ended, 38 Pakistani tanks and 100 armoured vehicles were either destroyed or abandoned. About 200 Pakistani troops were killed in action during the battle while only 2 Indian soldiers lost their lives. Pakistan suffered another major defeat on the western front during the battle of Basantar which was fought from 4 December to 16th. By the end of the battle, about 66 Pakistani tanks were destroyed and 40 more were captured. In return, Pakistani forces were able to destroy only 11 Indian tanks. None of the numerous Pakistani offensives on the Western front materialised.[54] By 16 December, Pakistan had lost sizeable territory on both eastern and western fronts.

Under the command of Lt. General J.S. Arora, the three corps of the Indian Army, which had invaded East Pakistan, entered Dhaka and forced Pakistani forces to surrender on 16 December 1971, one day after the conclusion of the battle of Basantar. After Pakistan's Lt General A A K Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender, India took more than 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war. At the time of the signing of the Instrument of Surrender, 11,000 Pakistani soldiers were killed-in-action while India suffered 3,500 battle-related deaths.[42] In addition, Pakistan lost 220 tanks during the battle compared to India's 69.[55]

In 1972, the Simla Agreement was signed between the two countries and tensions simmered. However, there were occasional spurts in diplomatic tensions which culminated into increased military vigilance on both sides.

Siachen conflict (1984)

Main article: Siachen conflict
A memorial at the headquarters of the Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army in remembrance of members of the regiment who died or served in the Siachen Conflict

The Siachen Glacier, though a part of the Kashmir region, was not officially demarcated on maps prepared and exchanged between the two sides in 1947. As a consequence, prior to the 1980s, neither India nor Pakistan maintained any permanent military presence in the region. However, Pakistan began conducting and allowing a series of mountaineering expeditions to the glacier beginning in the 1950s. By the early 1980s, the government of Pakistan was granting special expedition permits to mountaineers and United States Army maps deliberately showed Siachen as a part of Pakistan. This practice gave rise to the contemporary meaning of the term oropolitics.

India, possibly irked by these developments, launched Operation Meghdoot in April 1984. An entire battalion of the Kumaon Regiment was airlifted to the glacier. Pakistani forces responded quickly and clashes between the two followed. Indian Army secured the strategic Sia La and Bilafond La mountain passes and by 1985, more than 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2) of territory, 'claimed' by Pakistan, was under Indian control.[56] The Indian Army continues to control all of the Siachen Glacier and its tributary glaciers. Pakistan made several unsuccessful attempts to regain control over Siachen. In late 1987, Pakistan mobilised about 8,000 troops and garrisoned them near Khapalu, aiming to capture Bilafond La.[57] However, they were repulsed by Indian Army personnel guarding Bilafond. During the battle, about 23 Indian soldiers lost their lives while more than 150 Pakistani troops perished.[58] Further unsuccessful attempts to reclaim positions were launched by Pakistan in 1990, 1995, 1996 and 1999, most notably in Kargil that year.

India continues to maintain a strong military presence in the region despite extremely inhospitable conditions. The conflict over Siachen is regularly cited as an example of mountain warfare.[59][60] The highest peak in the Siachen glacier region, Saltoro Kangri, could be viewed as strategically important for India because of its immense altitude which could enable the Indian forces to monitor some Pakistani or Chinese movements in the immediate area.[61] Maintaining control over Siachen poses several logistical challenges for the Indian Army. Several infrastructure projects were constructed in the region, including a helipad 21,000 feet (6,400 m) above the sea level.[62] In 2004, Indian Army was spending an estimated US$2 million a month to support its personnel stationed in the region.[63]

Counter-insurgency activities

The Indian Army has played a crucial role in the past, fighting insurgents and terrorists within the nation. The army launched Operation Blue Star and Operation Woodrose in the 1980s to combat Sikh insurgents. The army, along with some paramilitary forces, has the prime responsibility of maintaining law and order in the troubled Jammu and Kashmir region, led specifically by the Northern Command. The Indian Army also sent a contingent to Sri Lanka in 1987 as a part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force. Allied to the work of the Northern command and its peace time activities is, "North Tech Symposium", an annual event, with an aim to provide viable platform for knowledge diffusion on contemporary military relevant technologies available as Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) worldwide.[64][65][66] The Indian Army also successfully conducted Operation Golden Bird in 1995 for counter-insurgency in northeast India.[67]

Kargil war (1999)

Main article: Kargil War
Indian soldiers in Batalik during Kargil War

In 1998, India carried out nuclear tests and a few days later, Pakistan responded by more nuclear tests giving both countries nuclear deterrence capability, although India had tested one hydrogen bombs which Pakistan lacks. Diplomatic tensions eased after the Lahore Summit was held in 1999. The sense of optimism was short-lived, however, since in mid-1999 Pakistani paramilitary forces and Kashmiri insurgents captured deserted, but strategic, Himalayan heights in the Kargil district of India. These had been vacated by the Indian army during the onset of the inhospitable winter and were supposed to reoccupied in spring. The regular Pakistani troops who took control of these areas received important support, both in the form of arms and supplies, from Pakistan. Some of the heights under their control, which also included the Tiger Hill, overlooked the vital Srinagar-Leh Highway (NH 1A), Batalik and Dras. Once the scale of the Pakistani incursion was realised, the Indian Army quickly mobilised about 200,000 troops and Operation Vijay was launched. However, since the heights were under Pakistani control, India was in a clear strategic disadvantage. From their observation posts, the Pakistani forces had a clear line-of-sight to lay down indirect artillery fire on NH 1A, inflicting heavy casualties on the Indians.[68] This was a serious problem for the Indian Army as the highway was its main logistical and supply route.[69] Thus, the Indian Army's first priority was to recapture peaks that were in the immediate vicinity of NH1a. This resulted in Indian troops first targeting the Tiger Hill and Tololing complex in Dras.[70] This was soon followed by more attacks on the Batalik-Turtok sub-sector which provided access to Siachen Glacier. Point 4590, which had the nearest view of the NH1a, was successfully recaptured by Indian forces on 14 June.[71]

Indian soldiers after winning a battle during the Kargil War

Though most of the posts in the vicinity of the highway were cleared by mid-June, some parts of the highway near Drass witnessed sporadic shelling until the end of the war. Once NH1a area was cleared, the Indian Army turned to driving the invading force back across the Line of Control. The Battle of Tololing, among other assaults, slowly tilted the combat in India's favour. Nevertheless, some of the posts put up a stiff resistance, including Tiger Hill (Point 5140) that fell only later in the war. As the operation was fully underway, about 250 artillery guns were brought in to clear the infiltrators in the posts that were in the line-of-sight. In many vital points, neither artillery nor air power could dislodge the outposts manned by the Pakistan soldiers, who were out of visible range. The Indian Army mounted some direct frontal ground assaults which were slow and took a heavy toll given the steep ascent that had to be made on peaks as high as 18,000 feet (5,500 m). Two months into the conflict, Indian troops had slowly retaken most of the ridges they had lost;[72][73] according to official count, an estimated 75%–80% of the intruded area and nearly all high ground was back under Indian control.

Following the Washington accord on 4 July, where Sharif agreed to withdraw Pakistani troops, most of the fighting came to a gradual halt, but some Pakistani forces remained in positions on the Indian side of the LOC. In addition, the United Jihad Council (an umbrella for all extremist groups) rejected Pakistan's plan for a climb-down, instead deciding to fight on.[74] The Indian Army launched its final attacks in the last week of July; as soon as the Drass subsector had been cleared of Pakistani forces, the fighting ceased on 26 July. The day has since been marked as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day) in India. By the end of the war, India had resumed control of all territory south and east of the Line of Control, as was established in July 1972 per the Shimla Accord. By the time all hostilities had ended, the number of Indian soldiers killed during the conflict stood at 527,[75] while more than 700 regular members of the Pakistani Army were killed.[76] The number of Islamist fighters, also known as Mujahideen, killed by Indian Armed Forces during the conflict stood at about 3,000.

United Nations peacekeeping missions

An Indian Army officer with a local at the UN mission in Congo, 2000

India has been the largest troop contributor to UN missions since its inception. So far India has taken part in 43 Peacekeeping missions with a total contribution exceeding 160,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel having been deployed. In 2014 India is the third largest troop contributor [TCC] with 7,860 personnel deployed with ten UN Peacekeeping Missions of which 995 are police personnel, including the first Female Formed Police Unit under the UN.[77] The Indian Army has undertaken numerous UN peacekeeping missions.[78] As of 30 June 2014, 157 Indians have been killed during such operations.[79] The Indian army has also provided paramedical units to facilitate the withdrawal of the sick and wounded.

Major exercises

See also: List of exercises of the Indian Army for a list of Exercises of the Indian Army.

Operation Brasstacks

Operation Brasstacks was launched by the Indian Army in November 1986 to simulate a full-scale war on the western border. The exercise was the largest ever conducted in India and comprised nine infantry, three mechanised, three armoured and one air assault division, and included three independent armoured brigades. Amphibious assault exercises were also conducted with the Indian Navy. Brasstacks also allegedly incorporated nuclear attack drills. It led to tensions with Pakistan and a subsequent rapprochement in mid-1987.[80][81]

Exercise Ashwamedha

Indian Army tested its network centric warfare capabilities in the exercise Ashwamedha. The exercise was held in the Thar desert, in which over 300,000 troops participated.[82] Asymmetric warfare capability was also tested by the Indian Army during the exercise.[83]

Yudh Abhyas

Yudh Abhyas 2012 – US and Indian Army military exercise Trailer.

Exercise Yudh Abhyas is part of an ongoing series of joint exercises between the Indian and United States Armies since 2005, agreed upon under the New Framework of India-US Defence Relationship. Commencing at the platoon level, the exercise has graduated to a command post (CPX) and field training exercise (FTX).

The seventh edition of Yudh Abhyas is currently underway since 5 March 2012 in two locations under the South Western Command. The US Army contingent is from the US Army Pacific (USARPAC), part of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). The Command Post Exercise has an engineer brigade headquarters with its planners from both sides, while the Field Training Exercise comprises troops of 2nd Squadron 14th US Cavalry Regiment from 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii, along with a platoon of Strykers, and a similar sized Indian Army contingent of mechanised infantry. The event is all the more interesting as a number of key surveillance, communications and Improvised Explosive Devices detection and neutralisation technologies, available with both sides have been fielded in the exercise.[84]

The U.S Army soldiers familiarising with the latest INSAS 1B1 during exercise Yudh Abhyas 2015
Indian army infantry vehicles during Yudh Abhyas exercises

Sgt. BalKrishna Dave, an Indian-born US Army paratrooper assigned to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, explains weapons-range safety procedures to Indian Army soldiers with the 99th Mountain Brigade before they fire American machine guns 4 May 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. They are part of Yudh Abhyas 2013, the latest annual training event between the armies of India and the United States, sponsored by US Army Pacific. [85] [86]

The eighth edition of Yudh Abhyas had conducted with The Indian army's 99th Mountain Brigade and the 1st Bde. Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, participated in Yudh Abhyas 2013 exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C. Other units represented were the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, from the US forces, and from India, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Gurka Rifles; the 50th Independent Para Bde.; and the 54th Engineers Regt. US Army-Pacific sponsored a bilateral training exercise with the Indian army, 3–17 May 2013, that focused on the two countries' cultures, weapons training and tactics.[87][88]

Exercise Shakti

Exercise Shakti is an ongoing series of joint exercises between the Indian and French armies since 2011. Exercise Shakti is conducted to practice and validate anti terrorist operations and drills in snowbound and mountainous areas. The second joint military exercise between the two countries was held in September 2013 with the first one being held in India in October 2011. The theme of the exercise is to conduct platoon level joint counter insurgency operations in high altitude mountainous terrain under the UN Charter, thus emphasising the shared concerns of both countries about global terrorism. An added aim of the exercise is to qualitatively enhance knowledge of each other's military procedures thus increasing the scope for interoperability and better responsiveness to a common threat. The twelve-day exercise with France Army is scheduled to be conducted in multiple modules in order to achieve complete integration between the two contingents at every stage.[89][90]

Exercise Shoorveer

On first week of April 2012 Indian Army has launched a massive summer exercise in the Rajasthan desert involving over 50,000 troops and several hundred artillery guns and infantry combat vehicles as part of its efforts to shore up its battle worthiness on the western front with Pakistan. The exercise, code-named "Shoorveer", is being conducted by the Jaipur-based South Western Command and will end in the first week of May. This is the largest ever exercise conducted by Indian army since 1947. The collective training started with honing up of basic battle procedures and tactical drills at tactical level. A number of field firings are being carried out to check the accuracy and lethality of the weapon systems. A large number of innovations and modifications carried out by units and formations to enhance combat power are being tested in the field. The troops will build the momentum of training gradually, with increased combat tempo to set the stage for a major joint army-air force exercise in the later part of the exercise.[91]

Exercise Rudra Akrosh

In May 2012 Indian army start testing the preparedness level of its units and to validate new age technology, battle concepts, organizational structures and networked operations, Western Army Command is conducting its summer training exercises in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Code named Exercise Rudra Akrosh, the war games are aimed to validate the operational and transformational effectiveness of various formations under the Western Army Command. The exercise which entered its culmination phase was also witnessed by Western Army Commander Lt General S R Ghosh. It includes various summer training manoeuvres where approximately 20,000 troops tested battle skills with state-of-the-art weapon systems in complete integration of the fighter and transport aircraft pitched in by the Indian Air Force. Besides interacting with the soldiers and officers co-ordinating the war games, Lt Gen Ghosh witnessed various battle manoeuvres by infantry troops, mechanised infantry, tanks, artillery, Heli-borne troops and surveillance equipment. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and attack helicopters were also co-opted in the operational scenario. Recently, the Jaipur-based South Western Command- also known as Sapta Shakti command- conducted its summer war games with more than 50,000 troops, latest weaponry and air assets.[92]

Exercise Nomadic Elephant

The Indian Army has been conducting training exercises with the Mongolian Army. The first exercise took place in 2004, and these exercises have since been taking place every year. In 2012, the exercise took place in Belgaum, and in June 2013, they were held in Mongolia. The aim of the exercises is to enhance counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations, and conduct peacekeeping operations under the mandate of the United Nation.[93][94]

Exercise Shatrujeet

In April 2016, Indian Army conducted a major exercise called 'Shatrujeet' by the elite Mathura-based Strike Corps in desert area of Mahajan field firing range of Rajasthan, wherein the capability to strike, deep into the enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle environment was evaluated. The focus of the exercise was to achieve joint and seamless co-ordination among all the forces in a nuclear biological chemical warfare scenario so as to deliver the enemy, a lethal punch with full might at a lightening speed. The operationally-oriented exercise was focused on validating integrated theatre battle fighting concept by incorporating new age technologies, weapon platforms and systems as well as long-range precision targeting vectors. This exercise is in the last phase and on 22 April, army chief D S Suhag is likely to come and review the exercise.[95][96][97]


Combat doctrine

The current combat doctrine of the Indian Army is based on effectively utilising holding formations and strike formations. In the case of an attack, the holding formations would contain the enemy and strike formations would counter-attack to neutralise enemy forces. In the case of an Indian attack, the holding formations would pin enemy forces down whilst the strike formations attack at a point of Indian choosing. The Indian Army is large enough to devote several corps to the strike role. Currently, the army is also looking at enhancing its special forces capabilities. With the role of India increasing and the requirement for protection of India's interest in far off shores become important, the Indian Army and Indian Navy are jointly planning to set up a marine brigade.[98]

Indian Army began inducting women officers in 1992.[99] Picture shows an Indian Army lady officer briefing Russian soldiers during a joint exercise in 2015.


The Indian Army is a voluntary service and although a provision for military conscription exists in the Indian constitution, it has never been imposed. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in 2010 the army had a strength of 1,129,900 active personnel and 960,000 reserve personnel.[100] Of those in reserve 160,000 were in the Indian Territorial Army, however only 40,000 of those regularly report for duty. This makes the Indian Army the world's largest standing volunteer army.[4][101]

The ranks of the Indian Army can be found at Army ranks and insignia of India, and for the most part follow the British Army tradition.

Infantry regiments

Soldiers of the 99th Mountain Brigade's 2nd Battalion, 5 Gorkha Rifles, during Yudh Abhyas 2013.

Upon its inception, the Indian Army inherited the British Army's organisational structure, which is still maintained today. Therefore, like its predecessor, an Indian infantry regiment's responsibility is not to undertake field operations but to provide battalions and well trained personnel to the field formations, as such it is common to find battalions of the same regiment spread across several brigades, divisions, corps, commands, and even theatres. Like its British and commonwealth counterparts troops enlisted within the regiment are immensely loyal and take great pride in the regiment to which they are assigned and generally spend their entire career within the regiment.

Infantry regiments of the Indian Army recruit based on certain selection criteria, such as on regional, ethnicity, or religion such as the Assam Regiment, Jat Regiment, and Sikh Regiment respectively. Most of them continue the heritage of regiments raised under the Raj, but the Ladakh Scouts, Arunachal Scouts, and Sikkim Scouts, specialised in border defence, have been raised since independence.

Over the years various political and military factions have tried to dissolve the unique selection criteria process of the regiments over a fear that loyalty to the regiment or its ethnic people opposed to loyalty to the union of India and have succeeded somewhat with the creation of ethnic-less, religion-less, non-regional regiments, such as the Brigade of Guards and Parachute Regiment, but have generally met with little success or gained popular support amongst the rank and file Jawans.

Soldiers of the Rajput Regiment
Soldiers of the Sikh Light Infantry
Soldiers of the Madras Regiment

Regiments in order of seniority within the Indian Army are:[102]

Regiment Regimental Center Year
Brigade of the Guards Kamptee, Maharashtra[103] 1949
Parachute Regiment Bangalore, Karnataka 1945
Mechanised Infantry Regiment Ahmednagar, Maharashtra 1979
Punjab Regiment Ramgarh Cantonment, Jharkhand 1761
The Madras Regiment Wellington, Udhagamandalam 1758
The Grenadiers Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh 1778
Maratha Light Infantry Belgaum, Karnataka 1768
Rajputana Rifles Delhi Cantonment, New Delhi 1775
Rajput Regiment Fatehgarh, Uttar Pradesh 1778
Jat Regiment Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh 1795
Sikh Regiment Ramgarh Cantonment, Jharkhand 1846
Sikh Light Infantry Fatehgarh, Uttar Pradesh 1857
Dogra Regiment Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh 1877
The Garhwal Rifles Lansdowne, Uttrakhand 1887
Kumaon Regiment Ranikhet, Uttarakhand 1813
Assam Regiment Shillong, Meghalaya 1941
Bihar Regiment Danapur Cantonment, Patna, Bihar 1941
Mahar Regiment Saugor, Madhya Pradesh 1941
Jammu & Kashmir Rifles Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh 1821
Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry Avantipur, Jammu & Kashmir 1947
Naga Regiment Ranikhet, Uttarakhand 1970
1 Gorkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment) Sabathu, Himachal Pradesh 1815
3 Gorkha Rifles Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 1815
4 Gorkha Rifles Sabathu, Himachal Pradesh 1857
5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) Shillong, Meghalaya 1858
8 Gorkha Rifles Shillong, Meghalaya 1824
9 Gorkha Rifles Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 1817
11 Gorkha Rifles Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 1918
Ladakh Scouts Leh, Jammu & Kashmir 1963
Rashtriya Rifles 1990
Arunachal Scouts Shillong, Meghalaya 2010
Sikkim Scouts 2013

Artillery regiments

The Regiment of Artillery once constituted a formidable operational arm of Indian Army. During the Kargil War, it was the Indian Artillery that inflicted the most amount of damage.[104] The role played by the artillery was praised by the top army brass, the divisional commander, a brigade commander and a battalion commander. Two of the officers were then General V.P. Malik, then Lieutenant General S. Padmanabhan[105] both of whom went on to serve as Chief of Army Staff.

Historically it takes its lineage from Moghul Emperor Babur who is popularly credited with introduction of Artillery in India, in the Battle of Panipat in 1526. However evidence of earlier use of gun by Bahmani Kings in the Battle of Adoni in 1368 and King Mohammed Shah of Gujrat in fifteenth century have been recorded.

After undergoing consistent failures to import or produce modern artillery for three decades,[106][107] the Regiment of Artillery is finally going ahead with procurement of brand new 130-mm and 150-mm artillery guns.[108][109][110]

Armoured regiments

There are 97 armoured regiments in the Indian Army. These include the following historic regiments dating back to the nineteenth century or earlier: 1st (Skinner's) Horse, the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse), 3rd Cavalry, 4th (Hodson's) Horse, 7th Light Cavalry, 8th Light Cavalry, 9th (Deccan) Horse, 14th (Scinde) Horse, 17th (Poona) Horse, 15th Lancers, 16th Light Cavalry, 18th Cavalry, 20th Lancers, and the 21st (Central India) Horse. A substantial number of additional units designated as either "Cavalry" or "Armoured" Regiments have been raised since Independence.


Most of the army equipment is imported, but efforts are being made to manufacture indigenous equipment. The Defence Research and Development Organisation has developed a range of weapons for the Indian Army ranging from small arms, artillery, radars and the Arjun tank. All Indian Military small-arms are manufactured under the umbrella administration of the Ordnance Factories Board, with principal Firearm manufacturing facilities in Ichhapore, Cossipore, Kanpur, Jabalpur and Tiruchirapalli. The Indian National Small Arms System (INSAS) rifle, which is successfully inducted by Indian Army since 1997 is a product of the Ishapore Rifle Factory, while ammunition is manufactured at Khadki and possibly at Bolangir.

In 2014, Army chief General Bikram Singh said that if given sufficient budget support, the Indian Army might be able to acquire half the ammunition needed to fight in a major conflict by the next year.[111]

Aircraft - The Army Aviation Corps is the main body of the Indian Army for tactical air transport, reconnaissance, and medical evacuation, while Indian Air Force's helicopter assets are responsible for assisting the army troop transport and close air support. It operates around 150 helicopters. The Indian army had projected a requirement for a helicopter that can carry loads of up to 750 kg heights of 23,000 feet (7,000 m) on the Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir. Flying at these heights poses unique challenges due to the rarefied atmosphere. The Indian Army will induct HAL Light Utility Helicopter to replace its ageing fleet of Chetaks and Cheetahs, some of which were inducted more than three decades ago.[112][113]

On 13 October 2012, The defence minister has given the control of attack helicopters to Indian Army from Indian Air force.[114]

Uniforms -

Uniform of the Assam Regiment

The Indian Army camouflage consists of shirts, trousers and cap of a synthetic material. Shirts are buttoned up with two chest pockets with buttoned up flaps. Trousers have two pockets, two thigh box pockets and a back pocket. The Indian Army Jungle camouflage dress features a jungle camouflage pattern and is designed for use in woodland environments. The Indian Army Desert camouflage, which features a desert camouflage pattern, is used by artillery and infantry posted in dusty, semi-desert and desert areas of Rajasthan and its vicinity.

The forces of the East India Company in India were forced by casualties to dye their white summer tunics to neutral tones, initially a tan called khaki (from the Hindi-Urdu word for "dusty"). This was a temporary measure which became standard in Indian service in the 1880s. Only during the Second Boer War in 1902, did the entire British Army standardise on dun for Service Dress. Indian Army uniform standardises on dun for khaki.

Camouflaged Indian Army soldiers carrying INSAS rifle (right) and a Dragunov Sniper rifle

The modern Indian Army wears distinctive parade uniforms characterised by variegated turbans and waist-sashes in regimental colours. The Gurkha and Garwhal Rifles and the Assam, Kumaon and the Naga Regiments wear broad brimmed hats of traditional style. Traditionally, all Rifle regiments and the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, Garhwal Rifles, Gurkha Rifles, and Rajputana Rifles) wear rank badges, buttons and blackened wire embroidered articles of uniform in black instead of the usual Brass (or gold) coloured as the original role of the rifle regiments was camouflage and concealment.


The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) is the Intelligence arm of the Indian Army. The MI (as it is commonly referred to) was constituted in 1941 and was initially created to check corruption in the Army's own ranks. With time, its role has evolved into cross border intelligence, intelligence sharing with friendly nations, infiltrating insurgent groups and counter-terrorism. In the late 1970s, the MI was embroiled in the Samba spy scandal wherein 3 Indian Army officers were falsely implicated as Pakistani spies. The organisation has since emerged from the scandal as a prime Intelligence organisation of the Indian Army. As of 2012, the MI has seen many of its roles taken away in a turf war with the newly created National Technical Research Organisation and Defence Intelligence Agency.[115] However bypassing NTRO's controversies with MI, since it was set up in 2004, as a premier apex scientific agency, we cannot overlook its scientific prowess, under the National Security Adviser in the Prime Minister's Office, as it also includes the National Institute of Cryptology Research and Development (NICRD), which is first of its kind in Asia.[116]


Training of new officers is carried out National Defence Academy, Pune, Indian Military Academy at Dehradun and Officers Training Academy at Chennai and Gaya, etc. There are also specialised training institutions like Army War College, at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), at Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJW), in Vairengte, Mizoram, College of Military Engineering (CME), in Pune. There is an Army Training Command (ARTRAC) at Shimla, whose main aim is to maximise the effectiveness of the training of personnel.

Para (Special Forces)

Para Special Forces at the Delhi Republic Day parade.

Para (Special Forces) is a special forces unit of the Indian Army's Parachute Regiment and is tasked with missions such as special operations, direct action, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defence, counter-proliferation, counter-insurgency, seek and destroy and personnel recovery.[117]

Gallantry Medals

The medals awarded by President of India for gallantry displayed at the battlefield, in order of precedence, are- Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra. The medals awarded by the President for gallantry displayed away from the battlefield, in order of precedence, are- Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra. Many of the recipients of the above awards have been Indian Army personnel.

Formation and structure

Indian Army Structure (click to enlarge)

As of 2016, the Indian Army has a sanctioned strength of 49,833 officers (41,162 serving, 8,671 under strength), and 1,202,257 enlisted personnel (1,159,093 serving, 43,164 under strength).[118] The troops are organized into 35 Divisions within 13 Corps. Army headquarters is located in the Indian capital, New Delhi, and it is under the overall command of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), currently General Dalbir Singh Suhag. Initially, the army's main objective was to defend the nation's frontiers. However, over the years, the army has also taken up the responsibility of providing internal security, especially against insurgencies in Kashmir and the Northeast. Recently, it has been proposed to enhance the strength of the army by more than 90,000 to counter the increasing presence of Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control.[119][120]

Rank Structure

Commissioned Officers

Commissioned officers are the leaders of the army and command everywhere from platoon/company to brigade, division, corps & the whole army. Indian Army officers are continually put through different courses & assessed on merit throughout their career, for promotions and appointments. Substantive promotions up to lieutenant colonel or equivalent are based on time in service whereas those for colonel and above are based on selection, with promotion to colonel also based on time served.

Hierarchy of Commissioned Officers in the Indian Army:-

NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
Ranks of the Indian Army- Officer ranks
Rank Field
General2 Lieutenant
Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant
Major Captain Lieutenant
An Indian Army paratrooper with the 50th Parachute Brigade jumps from a helicopter

Hierarchy of other ranks in the Indian Army:-

Junior commissioned officers

Non-commissioned officers


Ranks of the Indian Army - JCOs and Other Ranks
Junior Commissioned Officer Other ranks
Rank Subedar
Subedar2 Naib
Havildar Naik Lance Naik Sepoy4

Basic Field Formations

Below are the basic field formations of the Indian Army:


The army operates 6 operational commands and 1 training command.[121] Each command is headed by General Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Lieutenant General. Each command is directly affiliated to the Army HQ in New Delhi. These commands are given below in their correct order of raising, location (city) and their commanders. There is also the Army Training Command abbreviated as ARTRAC. Besides these, army officers may head tri-service commands such as the Strategic Forces Command and Andaman and Nicobar Command, as well as institutions like Integrated Defence Staff.

Command Insignia Command Name Headquarters Commander Subordinate Units
Headquarters, Indian Army New Delhi 50th Independent Parachute BrigadeAgra
Central Command Lucknow Lt General B S Negi[125] I Corps — Currently assigned to South Western Command
Eastern Command Kolkata Lt General Praveen Bakshi[126]
Northern Command Udhampur Lt General Devraj Anbu[127][128]
Southern Command Pune Lt General Bipin Rawat[129]
South Western Command Jaipur Lt General Sarath Chand[130]
Western Command Chandimandir Lt General Surinder Singh[131][132]
Army Training Command Shimla Lt General P M Hariz[133]

Regimental organisation

An Indian Army soldier during an exercise.
An Indian Army soldier during an exercise.
Soldiers of Sikh Light Infantry during a shooting practice.

Not to be confused with the Field Corps mentioned above, the corps mentioned below are the functional divisions entrusted with specific pan-Army tasks. The Indian Territorial Army has battalions affiliated to different infantry regiments and some department units which are either from the Corps of Engineers, Army Medical Corps or the Army Service corps. They serve as a part-time reserve.


Name Director General Center
Indian Infantry Regiments
Armoured Corps Regiments The Armoured Corps Centre and School, Ahmednagar
Regiment of Artillery Lt General P R Shankar, VSM[134] The School of Artillery, Devlali near Nasik
Corps of Signals Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE), Mhow

Two Signal Training Centres at Jabalpur and Goa.

Corps of Engineers The College of Military Engineering, Dapodi, Pune

The centres are located as follows 

Corps of Army Air Defence  Lt General Rajiv Bhatia, AVSM[135] Gopalpur, Odisha.
Mechanised Infantry Ahmednagar
Army Aviation Corps Lt General P K Bharali, VSM[136] Combat Army Aviation Training School, Nasik.
Intelligence Corps Pune


Name Director General Centre
Army Dental Corps Lt Genral T K Bandyopadhyay[137] Lucknow
Army Education Corps Major General Sunil Chandra[138] Pachmarhi
Army Medical Corps Lt General Velu Nair, AVSM, VSM[139] Lucknow/Pune
Army Ordnance Corps Lt General Amit Sarin[140] Jabalpur and Secunderabad (HQ)
Army Postal Service Corps Kamptee near Nagpur
Army Service Corps Lt General Balbir Singh Sandhu[141] Bangalore
Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers Secunderabad
Corps of Military Police Bangalore
Intelligence Corps Pune
Judge Advocate General's Department Institute of Military Law Kamptee, Nagpur
Military Farms Service Military Farms School and Centre, Meerut Cantonment
Military Nursing Service Pune and Lucknow
Remount and Veterinary Corps Lt General A J Singh, VSM[142] Meerut
Pioneer Corps Bangalore

Indian Army forts

Future developments

The major ongoing weapons programmes of the Indian Army are as follows:

Tanks and Armoured vehicles
The Brahmos supersonic cruise missile is a crucial component of the Indian Army's strike capabilities.
Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile launch, 2008
Small Arms
Army Aviation

See also


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