New Delhi, July 18: A day after the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-chaired Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) gave its nod to the Army’s much-awaited proposal to raise a mountain corps along the border with China in North-East, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday described it as a “pragmatic” decision.
“In national interest, we will do whatever needs to be done at the appropriate level. We work for peace as much as for tough times,” Mr. Khurshid, who is also a member of the high-level CCS, said while welcoming the decision. He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an art exhibition here. He added that the government takes “steps whenever necessary.”
“We live in a world which combines principles with pragmatism… we also maintain a rational, decent balance in our policies,” he said.
The CCS on Wednesday approved a proposal for raising of a mountain corps that would have nearly 45,000 additional troops along the border with China at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crore that would be spread over next seven years.
Sources indicated that there could be some forward movement on raising the mountain corps within next one year. The full-fledged corps would have equipment, weapons, artillery guns, helicopters and the next lot of C-130-J Super Hercules aircraft of the IAF, used for air dropping of troops, will be stationed at Panagarh in West Bengal that is most likely to be the headquarters of the corps.
The mountain corps will have two divisions, each with 15,000 men, of the infantry specially trained in mountain warfare. Location of the two divisions would also be decided later while the forward elements like Brigades could be located in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, sources said.
The corps will have three artillery brigades, equipped with heavy guns like Bofors 155 MM as well as the ultra light howitzer which India is procuring from the US. Each of the two divisions will be allocated one artillery Brigade each while the third one will be held as reserve by the Corps. It will also have a back up mechanism of brigade of Engineers which will provide support for civil works, attend to machines and lay bridges.
Sources said that an aviation Brigade will also be part of the Corps, which will include attack and heavy lift helicopters and UAV’s for reconnaissance.