Mechanised Infantry in the Indian Army

The 1965 Indo-Pak War was the catalyst for starting the process of mechanisation of the infantry in the Indian Army and a need was felt to create matching mobility for infantry that could keep pace with armour. The mechanised force structure that was planned to be evolved post 1965 Indo-Pak War was designed for rapid advance into the enemy territory with heavy concentration of armour, with the aim of defeating the enemy in, both, time and space, thus leading to destruction of his strategic reserves. In order to do so, standard infantry or lorried infantry was found inadequate. In defence, the concept of blocking positions by piggy back infantry was also found tactically vulnerable. This enunciated the need for mechanised infantry in our Army, which provided for greater versatility, staying power, increased density of anti-tank weapons and overall better capability in terms of, both, offensive and defensive operations.

The process of mechanisation, which was conceived in the late 1960s, was executed in the 1970s by conversion of 14 of the oldest and most distinguished infantry battalions. The converted battalions remained with their parent Regiments. The first Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), introduced was TOPAZ, a tracked amphibious APC. Then, a number of wheeled variants of APCs such as BTR-60 and SKOT-2A were introduced. Battalions equipped with these newly inducted APCs, participated in the Indo-Pak War of 1971.

To fully realise the combat potential of this dynamic arm, a need was felt to provide these battalions with an integrated training and battle philosophy. The idea of grouping the existing battalions together under one banner with a common identity was conceived by Gen KV Krishna Rao, PVSM, AVSM, ADC. Hence, the Mechanised Infantry Regiment was raised in 1979 with its centre at Ahmednagar.

-Journal of the Armoured Corps

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