A crisis is an opportunity riding a dangerous wind’ goes a Chinese proverb. The Chinese-perpetrated crisis in Eastern Ladakh seems to have inspired the Indian Army to seize the opportunity to initiate structural and organisational reforms. Without much ado, it has given directions for 1 Corps — one of the three mechanised forces, predominant Strike Corps focussed on Pakistan — to be restructured and reoriented as the second Mountain Strike Corps for Ladakh. 17 Mountain Strike Corps will now become the strategic reserve dedicated only to the Northeast, and it will be restructured into three-four Integrated Battle Groups, or IBGs.
This move signals that, at last, the Army has recognised that it is China, and not Pakistan, that is the principal threat to India’s national security. However, it also allows the flexibility of using the Mountain Strike Corps against Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir/Western Ladakh. One sincerely hopes that this does not remain a one-off change but becomes part of larger, holistic reforms for optimisation of the Army through restructuring and reorganisation. The Army is still based on World War-II organisations, living with incremental changes tailored to the wars of the 20th century. We need to come to terms with strategic compulsions that will influence the way we engage in future conflicts/wars.