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FAQs – Indian Army – Integrated Battle Groups

Published Nov 26, 2019
Updated Feb 06, 2020

The Indian Army declared intention to shift to Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) which will comprise of all arms cohesive force tailored for modern day operations. This will result in removal of one layer in the command chain thus also creating flat organisations. 

There are mainly two factors which have contributed to the transformation – operational conditions and advances in communications.

Operational conditions favour smaller integrated force.

Thus a battle group based on an infantry or a mechanised brigade can be decisive with resources provided to enable it to conduct an all arms battle.

The second factor is communications and command and control. There are mainly three layers of HQs involved in military operations – Corps, Division and Brigade Thus a corps Hqs controls three divisions while a divisional HQs three brigades.

Advances in communications facilitates a corps HQ to directly control a brigade or a battle group thus the IBG concept has emerged.

How is the Indian Air Force Being Dovetailed in the IBG?

Success in today’s battles can be achieved by conducting joint operations, there is a need for dovetailing air force combat support for integrated battle groups (IBGs).

Air forces by their nature are highly flexible and operate on the principle of centralised control with decentralised execution.

Allocation of air effort to support IBG operations which require urgent and sustained reconnaissance, surveillance or close air support is thus feasible even for relatively smaller elements.

The Army Corps HQ has an air force component integral to the same.

As Corps HQ will be controlling IBGs, provision of air support will be speedy and effectively prioritised to ensure that the critical element gets priority.

Since one intermediary element is eliminated – that is the Divisional HQs, IBGs will have more intimate air support.

With Forward Air Controllers (FAC) from the Air Force along with Ground Liaison Officers of the Army with the IBGs coordination can be carried out effectively.

Will the Newly Acquired Apache Attack helicopters be part of IBGs

Indian Air Force [IAF ]formally inducted the AH-64E Apache Attack Helicopter into its inventory at Air Force Station Pathankot. The advanced Apache attack helicopters have numerous enhancements which can provide considerable advantages known as force multipliers on the battlefield. The Apache 64 E helicopter includes air to ground Hellfire missiles, 70 mm Hydra rockets and air to air Stinger missiles. Apache also carries one 30 mm chain gun with 1200 rounds as part of area weapon sub system. The helicopter has fire control radar, nose mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. This will enhance the capability of IAF to support army strike corps.

With the Indian Army transitioning to the Independent Battle Groups, there is an urgent need for integrating Apache 64 E into the operational concepts and profile of the formation. This will considerably enhance the anti tank potential and fire power of the formation on the Western Front.

Can IBGs be Sustained in the Indian Operational Environment

The Indian Army is undertaking transition to the Integrated Battle Group (IBG) concept in a gradual manner. A test bed has reportedly been established and the (IBG) will be tried out with numerous table top and field exercises.

This will provide inputs on feasibility of the IBGs in different terrain and operational scenarios such as the mountains , desert and the plains. Once this is crystallised then the transition will take place.

In the initial stages there could be a hybrid model that may be prevalent with some formations having the standard structure – corps -division and brigade while others converted to the IBG. This is likely to be based on the operational requirement as well as the availability of resources.

The IBGs will have to be provided adequate combat support elements integral to the force as well as logistics to enable these to operate independently without having to look back for support from the higher HQs.

Leadership development will also assume importance.

Will the IBGs Contribute to Reduction in Non combat manpower in the Indian Army?

For command and control of field forces in the Indian Army for land operations, there are three layers of HQs involved in military operations – Corps, Division and Brigade. Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) concept entails the Corps HQs directly controlling the groups which will be equivalent to the brigades thus the requirement of a division HQs will be overcome. This will reduce the number of manning staff for the same and is expected to save non combat manpower.

At the same time the IBG HQs will be considerably larger than a brigade HQs as it has to control a number of elements – combat and logistics support directly, thus there may be an increase in the requirement of manpower. Thus there may be lack of clarity at present on the impact of manpower saving as an outcome of the introduction of IBG.

One advantage is however evident that of creating a flatter organisation thus making the same highly responsive with the modern communications and command control means that are available.