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The Army

In 1994 the army had approximately 940,000 men and women in its ranks and more than 36,000 in reserve forces. The army is headquartered in New Delhi and is under the direction of the chief of the army staff, always a full general. The chief of the army staff is assisted by a vice chief, two deputy chiefs, a military secretary, and the heads of four main staff divisions: the adjutant general, the quartermaster general, the master general of ordnance, and the engineer in chief.

The army has five tactical area commands: the Northern Command headquartered at Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, the Western Command headquartered at Chandimandir in Chandigarh, the Central Command headquartered at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, the Eastern Command headquartered at Calcutta, and the Southern Command headquartered at Pune in Maharashtra (see fig. 17). Each command is headed by a lieutenant general. The principal combat formations within the scope of these commands are armored divisions and independent armored brigades, infantry divisions, mountain infantry divisions, independent infantry brigades, airborne/commando brigades, and independent artillery brigades (see table 34, Appendix). These units are organized in twelve corps-level formations.

The army is equipped with some 3,400 main battle tanks. Of these, 1,200 are indigenously manufactured Vijayanta tanks. Additionally, the army has some T-55, T-72, and PT-76 tanks. The Arjun main battle tank has been under development by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) since 1983, and, in 1995, limited production was expected to begin in 1996.

To complement indigenous production, however, it was reported in 1994 that Russia had agreed to help India modernize its T-72 tanks and to sell and lease other types of weapons. It is generally understood that about 70 percent of India's military equipment is of Soviet origin. Some army officials continue to favor Russian-made equipment, such as the T-72 tank, over Indian adaptations of the same items, such as the T-72 MI tank developed by the DRDO.

The army also has substantial artillery forces. The best estimate places the army's towed artillery capabilities at more than 4,000 pieces. In addition to the towed artillery, the army has self-propelled artillery. Finally, it has substantial numbers of surface-to-air missile capabilities, the total number being more than 1,200. In 1986 air observation post units were transferred from the air force to the army to form the Army Aviation branch. Using nine helicopter squadrons, Army Aviation has supported ground units in the Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir and in Sri Lanka, as well as counterinsurgency operations in various parts of the country. Army Aviation has also participated in disaster relief.

Apart from its nine squadrons of helicopters, the army has eight air observation squadrons and six antitank/transport squadrons. It relies on the air force for air support, lift capabilities, and air supply (see table 35, Appendix).

An extensive body of schools and centers supports army operations. The officer corps is largely drawn from the National Defence Academy at Khadakvasla, Maharashtra, a joint services training institution that provides educational equivalents to the bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degrees to cadets for all three service arms. Cadets spend their first three years at the National Defence Academy and then are sent to their respective service academies for further training before being commissioned in the armed forces. A preparatory school, the Rashtriya Indian Military College, at Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh, provides education to candidates for the National Defence Academy. After completing their studies at the National Defence Academy, army cadets are sent to the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. Other Indian Military Academy cadets are graduates of the Army Cadet College or are direct-entry students who have qualified by passing the Union Public Service Commission Examination. They spend between twelve and twenty-four months at the Indian Military Academy before being commissioned in the army as second lieutenants. Still other officer training occurs at the Officers' Training Academy in Madras, Tamil Nadu, where a forty-four-week session is offered to university graduates seeking a short-service commission.

In addition to the Indian Military Academy, the army runs a number of military education establishments. The more prominent ones include the College of Combat at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh; the High Altitude Warfare School at Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir; and the Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairengte, Mizoram. The army also operates the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, which provides master of science-level joint-service training for mid-level staff appointments and promotes interservice cooperation.

In 1994 it was reported that there were 200 women in the armed forces. In the army, which employs women as physicians and nurses, the participation of women is small but growing. The Indian Military Nursing Service was formed in 1926 and has eight nursing schools (five army, two navy, and one air force) and one nursing college in Pune. Bachelor of science graduates are commissioned as lieutenants in the Medical Nursing Service and attached to the various components of the armed forces. Ranks as high as colonel can be attained by career officers. In the mid-1990s, a small but increasing number of women officers were being assigned to nonmedical services. In 1994, there were fifty women nonmedical army officers and another twenty-five in training. They are university graduates who have been put through rigorous training and are reported to be eager for combat unit assignments.

The Navy

The origins of the modern Indian navy are traced to a maritime force established by the East India Company in the seventeenth century. This force had a variety of names--the Bombay Marine, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Marine. In 1934 the Royal Indian Navy was established, with Indians serving primarily in lower-level positions. After independence the navy was the most neglected of the three services because the national leadership perceived that the bulk of the threats to India were land-based.

The first efforts at naval rearmament emerged in the 1964-69 Defence Plan, which called for the replacement of India's aging fleet and the development of a submarine service. Between 1947 and 1964, fiscal constraints had prevented the implementation of ambitious plans for naval expansion. Consequently, many of the vessels were obsolete and of little operational value. As part of this expansion program, the British helped develop the Mazagon Dock shipyard for the local production of British Leander-class frigates. The Soviets, however, were willing to support all phases of the planned naval expansion. Accordingly, they supplied naval vessels, support systems, and training on extremely favorable terms. By the mid-1960s, they had replaced Britain as India's principal naval supplier (see table 36, Appendix).

During the 1980s, Indian naval power grew significantly. During this period, the naval facilities at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, in the Nicobar Islands, and in Lakshadweep were significantly upgraded and modernized. A new line of Leander-class frigates was manufactured at Mazagon Dock in collaboration with Vickers and Yarrow of Britain. These frigates, redesignated as the Godavari class, have antisubmarine warfare capabilities and can carry two helicopters. During the 1980s, plans were also finalized for the licensed manufacture of a line of West German Type 1500 submarines (known as the Shishumar class in India). In addition to these developments at Mazagon Dock, the naval air arm also was upgraded. India purchased nearly two squadrons of the vertical and short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) Sea Harriers to replace an earlier generation of Sea Hawks.

In the mid-1990s, India was preparing for a major modernization program that was to include completion of three 5,000-ton Delhi-class destroyers, the building of three 3,700-ton frigates based on Italian Indian Naval Ship (INS)-10 design, and the acquisition of four hydrographic survey ships. Also to be built were an Indian-designed warship called Frigate 2001; six British Upholder-class submarines; an Indian-designed and Indian-built missile-firing nuclear submarine--the Advanced Technology Vessel--based on the Soviet Charlie II class; and an Indian-designed and Indian-built 17,000-ton air defense ship capable of carrying between twelve and fifteen aircraft. The air-defense ship will be, in effect, a replacement for India's two aging British aircraft carriers, the INS Vikrant , the keel of which was laid in 1943 but construction of which was not completed until 1961 and which was slated for decommissioning by 2000, and the INS Viraat , which entered service in 1987 and is likely to be decommissioned by 2005. The problems encountered with modernizing these and other foreign-source ships led India to decide against acquiring an ex-Soviet Kiev-class aircraft carrier in 1994.

In the spirit of international military cooperation, India has made moves in the early and mid-1990s to enhance joint-nation interoperability. Indian naval exercises have taken place with ships from the Russian navy and those of Indian Ocean littoral states and other nations, including the United States.

Naval headquarters is located in New Delhi. It is under the command of the chief of naval staff--a full admiral. The chief of naval staff has four principal staff officers: the vice chief of naval staff, the vice chief of personnel, the chief of material, and the deputy chief of naval staff. The total strength of the navy in 1994 was 54,000, including 5,000 naval aviation personnel and 1,000 marines (one regiment, with a second reportedly forming).

Women were inducted into the navy for the first time in 1992, when twenty-two were trained as education, logistics, and law cadres. In 1993 additional women were recruited for air traffic control duties. By 1994 there were thirty-five women naval officers.

The navy is deployed under three area commands, each headed by a flag officer. The Western Naval Command is headquartered in Bombay on the Arabian Sea; the Southern Naval Command in Kochi (Cochin), in Kerala, also on the Arabian Sea; and the Eastern Naval Command in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, on the Bay of Bengal. Additionally, the navy has important bases in Calcutta and Goa.

The Southern Naval Command is responsible for naval officer training, which occurs at the Indian Naval Academy in Goa. Officer candidates are largely drawn from the National Defence Academy. After commissioning, officers are offered specialized training in antisubmarine warfare, aviation, communications, electronic warfare, engineering, hydrography, maritime warfare, missile warfare, navigation, and other naval specialties at various naval training institutions, many of which are collocated with the Training Command headquarters on Willingdon Island, near Kochi.

Data as of September 1995

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