Do we need more airborne/marine units?

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by JBH22, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Russian airborne (desant) is defined as follows;
    "Troops intended for landing, or which have already landed on enemy-occupied territory for the purpose of conducting combat operations. According to the transportation method used, a landing force may be amphibious, airborne, or combined; and according to its scale and purpose, such a force may be strategic, operational, or tactical "

    The role of airborne units

    Airborne operations are conducted in hostile territory for executing an assault landing from the air. These may be conducted at the strategic or operational levels, either independently or in conjunction with other operations. With its inherent air mobility, an airborne force is an important means to achieve simultaneity of force application and gaining a foothold across obstacle systems in circumstances in which other forces would require considerably much more time to be effective. Airborne operations can be launched at any stage of a battle.

    Due to their inherent flexibility, airborne forces are capable of being employed on various missions whether these are strategic or operational. Operational missions are generally in furtherance of land forces plans and involve close cooperation with them. Though launched independently into the depth areas of the enemy, a quick link-up by ground forces is essential for the success of an airborne operation.

    During flight, the air transport force commander will be the overall commander; after landing, the ground force commander will regain command of the land forces component. The overall control of the air transport force will be with Air Headquarters, represented by the Air Command in the theatre which, in turn, will nominate a task force commander. During the execution phase, attention needs to be paid to creating a favorable air situation and taking appropriate air defence measures. Suitable deception measures and a rapid link-up are vital to the success of a mission.

    Indian units

    The only airborne force projection capability that India has at present is that of the independent Parachute Brigade. The organisational structure of this brigade is more suitable for conventional operations. General K. Sundarji, former Chief of Army Staff, had often spoken of converting an existing infantry division to an air assault division by about the year 2000. Though the idea was certainly not ahead of its time, the shoestring budgets of the 1990s did not allow the army to proceed to practically implement the concept.

    The first airborne formation of the pre-Independence days, formed entirely from volunteers drawn from units in India, was the 50 Indian Parachute Brigade. It consisted of 151 Parachute Battalion (British) which was later withdrawn for service in the Middle-East, 152 Indian Parachute Battalion, 153 Gurkha Parachute Battalion, 411 Parachute Section and Indian Engineers. The first commander of the brigade was Brig WHG Gough. The first Indian officer to join the brigade was Lt AG Rangaraj of the Indian Medical Service who was posted to 152 Indian Parachute Battalion as medical officer. Incidentally, Lt Rangaraj was the first Indian to make a parachute jump in India.

    During World War-II, 50 Para Brigade was permitted to move to Imphal to get some "live jungle training." The brigade, minus the 154 Gurkha Parachute Battalion, moved to Chakabama, 10 miles east of Kohima. Soon, the Japanese offensive towards Imphal necessitated a redeployment of the brigade to plug a gap in the defences in the east by taking up position at Shangshak, near Ukhrul. The Japanese 15 Army was bringing up two divisions in a flanking move from the east about which Headquarters IV Corps was unaware of. The 152 Para Battalion had no inkling of things to come when they reached Shangshak on March 14, 1944. Next day, they relieved 4/5 Maratha LI at Shangshak. On March 19, Point 7378 was attacked by a Japanese battalion. The company beat back successive attacks on March 19 and 20, suffering heavy casualties till it was finally overrun. As the Japanese built up to a regiment (equivalent to a brigade strength), it was decided to withdraw 152 Para Battalion and 4/5 Maratha LI to Shangshak on March 21/22.

    Finally, 50 Para Brigade, with its 152 and 153 Para Battalions, held on stubbornly at Shangshak from March 21 to 26 at a great cost. During these battles, the brigade suffered heavy casualties: 29 officers, 11 VCOs, 4 BORs and 541 Indian ORs were amongst the casualties. But the delay caused to the Japanese proved critical, giving 14 Army time to move in reinforcements for the defence of Imphal. Lt Gen WJ Slim, GOC-in-C 14 Army, appreciated the role of the Parachute Brigade in his Army’s victory over the Japanese in a special Order of the Day—a rare honor indeed, to be singled out from the nearly 26 infantry brigades which fought under Lt Gen Slim in the great battle for Imphal and Kohima.

    Two airborne operations had been planned for 14 Army’s campaign for the reconquest of Burma—one to take the Yeu-Shwebo plain and the other to take Rangoon. However, the pace of 14 Army’s advance put the planning for an airborne operation on the backburner till such time that it came up against stiff Japanese resistance towards March end in 1945. Therefore, operation Dracula (capture of Rangoon by amphibious assault) in its modified form was launched. There was a need for the coastal defences on the west bank of Rangoon river to be neutralised so that 26 Indian Division’s assault landing could proceed smoothly. Elephant Point was, therefore, to be seized by paralanding a battalion group a day before the main assault.

    As the Para Brigade units were themselves under reorganisation at this point of time, an improvised battalion came forward for the operation under Maj GEC Newland of the 2 Battalion. Forty Dakotas of No 1 and No 2 Air Commandos (American) were used for the drop. The battalion accomplished its task by evening and the minesweepers could then safely begin their task. However, it was now realised that the Japanese had moved out of Rangoon itself, so the need for assault landings did not arise. Thus Rangoon was retaken without a bullet being fired on May 3 by 36 Infantry Brigade of 26 Division.

    A An-32 with 40 paratroopers on board zoomed into the night on 17 May 2006 to commence 'Sanghe Shakti', the first major military exercise after 'Operation Parakram'. A total of two IL-76 and 10 AN-32 took off one after the other with men and equipment on board. These planes dropped a battalion of troops at Sidhwan Khas near Phillar in the plains of Punjab for one of the biggest military exercise. This is the biggest parachute drop in the last five years. The AN-32 aircrafts dropped an entire parachute battalion while the IL-76 dropped equipment in the dark flying in formation without lights. On the first AN-32 aircraft that took off with 40 troops, this first aircraft is called Path Finder, the first group of troops dropped by it will make a T-Point on the dropping zone,where other troops will land. With twin base concept and multi ingress and egress routes, operation will be conducted at ultra low level. The aim of the exercise was to draw out enemy reserves in the general area and to degrade the counter offensive capability of the enemy. Some 20,000 troops with nealy 2000 to 2500 vehicles, from 2 Corps, the Strike Corps, took part in the exercise.

    Source:Global Security


    Naval Infantry-The Russian Paradigm


    There is at least one naval infantry regiment attached to each of the major Russian fleets. In total the Russian Naval Infantry numbers 12,000 men and has very little organic firepower or support, and if committed to combat it would require reinforcement within less than a week. Russian military doctrine calls for the naval infantry to be used as shock troops spearheading an assault that would be followed up by ground forces.

    Its primary wartime missions would be to seize and hold strategic straits or islands and to make seaborne tactical landings behind enemy lines as well as defending critical naval basing areas. During the 1980s Soviet Naval Infantry exercises in the Kuril Islands north of Japan indicated that the intended target of Naval Infantry was the shores bordering various chokepoints. In a conflict, these troops would most likely be sent ashore to capture the Dardanelles or the Kattegat straits and then wait for rapid reinforcement.

    Indian situation
    We can assume that India's emulate the Russian model of assigning some 12000 highly trained motivated troops who would assume the role of an elite force meant to target strategic choke points such as the Malacca Straites or as a quick defence force for the Andaman Nicobar islands.

    there was a report that Indian Navy wanted to enhance its capabilities to form a marine Brigade,since we have Shardul LST this can be done.

    Source:Wikipedia


    As to the airborne units in the 1965 war we've seen the importance of airborne troops,in second world war during Ardenne offensive the US 82nd airborne troops held german advance at Bastogne against all odds. So given India is modernising its An-32 fleet and acquiring C-17 are we there or do we need Massive air lifting capability hence not within our means.

    Some facts & figures of India
    Number of Amphibious Warfare Ship=20
    The Ins Jalashwa is the largest followed by indigenous Shardul class

    Number of transport planes=175
    An-32=94
    Il-76=17
    Hs-748=64
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Its like asking why not substitute scissors with knives and vice versa.
     
  4. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Difference between special force and an elite force.The elite force is meant to spearhead a large force until main force arrive special force can do that but on a smaller scale.We need something like Russian or US marines for force projection.
     
  5. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    Considering that both our adversaries have formidable armies, neither airborne nor marines would be able to contribute much during a war. Like shuvo said special forces would be able to wreak much more havoc than regular marine or airborne division.
     
  6. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    what we need now is not to induct more manpower but to ensure that the manpower we already have is brought up to NATO standards, the talk of the day is not in having a large unwieldy army but in having a moderately sized regular force that is no less when it comes to equipment and training than the best the west(read U.S marines) have to offer.
     
  7. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    That's what i was asking having flexible and easy deployable units isn't that a thing to ponder upon.See the marine elite unit i was talking about if we had something like that it can help tackle piracy or rescue mission of Indian sailors held in Somali,other unit can do but having an elite dedicated unit makes the difference.
     
  8. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    For fight now I think India's MARCOS are enough for the naval role. But we could use more airborne divisions.

    Compared to our advesaries we have a very large number of transport aircraft. We should use these to their full potential by landing large numbers of troops behind enemy lines to paralyze their supply and command infrastructure.
     
  9. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    As a rapid reaction force Airborne units are definitely useful for e.g in the lebanon 2006 war airborne or marine units would be quicker to evacuate the Indian nationals trapped there. In war time situation for e.g in Second world war German blitzkrieg success depended on daredevil paratroopers who would secure important bridges from the enemy and wait sometimes for 1 week until main force arrive.
    As such in Indian context we can use them to hold malacca straits or defend andaman Nicobar islands should the need arise.
     
  10. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    If you are proposing that India adopt naval infantry divisions modeled after Russia's, then they would never be used in a defensive role. Naval infantry are meant to be used as shock troops, clearing the way for the main forces to land. If the Andaman Islands are attacked, we would rely on rapid-reaction special forces or airborne units to defend them, not naval infantry. Also, we cannot use naval infantry to hold the Malacca Straits because that would be a violation of other countries' sovereignty.

    The Indian Navy will only require naval infantry if it decides to adopt an aggressive, intervionist doctrine. Personally, I don't see that happening any time soon.
     
  11. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    this is a good point you made this would need a hawkish leader which would want India to flex its muscle. The thing that i've mentioned in my previous post these troops would be used in times war so this means diplomacy will be in the background for sometime. Furthermore as i mentioned such shock troops can also help in Lebanon evacuation situation type,perhaps if we had such troops in 1999 Kandahar could have got another ending.

    There has been recent report of Indian Navy wanting to adopt a marine brigade so idea gathering pace among top brass..
     
  12. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Airbone
    Outcome:Indian 2nd Parachute Battalion capture the Poongli Bridge on the River Jamuna, allowing access to the undefended Manikganj-Dacca Road.

    Operation Cactus
    Outcome:Decisive Indian victory

    Size of Parachute regiment:=13 Battalions (7 Special Forces, 3 Airborne Infantry, 2 Territorial Army and 1 Rashtriya Rifles)

    The question that i have is that should we have something like the VDV which is among the best and an army of its own in Russia or should we just improve the 2 or 3 battalions we have.

    Marine

    The only information i got on marine operations involved Marcos forces (size=2000) engaged within the IPKF mandate where they performed well.

    US marine role is defined

    # The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns;
    # The development of tactics, technique, and equipment used by amphibious landing forces;

    Source:wikipedia

    With the transformation of Indian Navy into a blue-water one and given its more pro-active with anti-piracy mission this can be a useful.
     
  13. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Double post......................
     

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