On July 18th, India gave up on its plans to raise a 90,270-strong Mountain Strike Corps (MSC). According to initial plans the soldiers were supposed to be deployed along India’s border with China, reports Jane’s 360.
Jane’s quotes an unnamed Senior Indian Army official on July 18th, who has stated that the establishment of the 17 Mountain Strike Corps, the creation of which was approved back in 2013 by the Ministry of Defence for an estimate of about INR600 million ($876 million) has been put on hold. The project has been indefinitely postponed due to the continuing scarcity of funds of the Indian Army. Jane’s also quotes the retired military analyst Major General Sheru Thapliyal who claims that “it is difficult to predict if and when this could be revived.”
This comes after the Economic Times reported on January 2nd that the Indian Army has reprioritized its next five-year plan. It focused on meeting operational requirements along the China border as a consequence of the Dokalam standoff. The emphasis of the new plan shall be the development of infrastructure, including better roads and logistics and capability enhancement, with more infantry weapons and night fighting, intelligence and surveillance equipment, as reported by Economic Times.
The primary offensive formation against China, the Mountain Strike Corps was faced with a lack of funds back in January, as reported by the Economic Times. It was started in 2013 and was supposed to complete by 2021, however due to financial issues it was supposed to take four to eight more years, leading up to July 18th’s announcement of an indefinite postponing.
At the time of announcement of the Mountain Strike Crops, the Times of India reports, it was critical due to China’s “aggressive” strengthening of its military capabilities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The Mountain Strike Corps were to give India the capability to launch an offensive in the TAR in the event of a Chinese attack, as reported by the Times of India. In 2013 the corps were supposed to number about 40,000 soldiers. In the same year, the government back then adopted an ambitious plan to form a corps of about 80,000 troops that would have cost Rs 64,000 crores (approximately $9.2 billion). Rediff news reports that in 2015 none of the promised funds were allocated. They also report that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has made an unambiguous statement that the Mountain Strike Corps for the Indian Army will be frozen at the current level — which is to say at about 50 per cent of the originally proposed strength of over 80,000 troops because of a funds crunch.
Rediff reports that after not receiving any of the promising funds, the army still continued forming the corps, mostly by cannibalizing reserves from existing formations. All of this has lead to the final shelving of the Mountain Strike Corps, a plan which seemingly was doomed from the initial phase.