Indian Army RAPID Divisions

v.1.0 February 11, 2001

This copyright article is by Mandeep Bajwa and Ravi Rikhye

Ravi Rikhye writes:

The antecedents of the Reorganized Plains Infantry Division (RAPID) lie in decisions taken about 15 years ago. The bulk of the forces facing Pakistan in the plains were infantry. Army Plan 2000, formulated in 1985, called for the wholesale mechanization of all plains forces with the exception of seven divisions, which would consist of a mix of armor and infantry. These could be utilized in sectors unsuitable for pure mechanized/armor formations, for example, in the Jammu-Samba-Pathankot sector (Indian XVI Corps), and in the increasingly built-up areas of the North Punjab (Indian XI Corps). These divisions were called RAPID.

As if often the case in India, plans for one concept become plans for another. While waiting for the Government to clear and fund Plan 2000, the Army decided to utilize available resources to at least get the RAPID concept underway. Since boosting the combat power of the holding divisions - which were to convert to RAPID - while ignoring the strike divisions - which were to convert to mechanized/tank formations - made little sense, the first four RAPIDs were in the strike corps (I and II Corps) and in X Corps, which is a holding corps. Because resources for Plan 2000 were never made available, and because after 1990 the Indian Army's attention became increasing engaged in the Kashmir insurgency, neither did more tank/mechanized divisions emerge, no more RAPIDs were created.

With the Government of India finally having come to its senses and begun funding long-deferred equipment needs, and having at last accepted the Army's proposals to withdraw the Army from internal security missions, the question arises: will more RAPIDs be created? The Army is painfully aware that its armor strike corps are highly unbalanced because substantial fractions of each corps are unmechanized, and that at the minimum it needs another three armored divisions to at least fully mechanized I and II Corps. The need to fully mechanize these corps will conflict with any possible plans to convert more holding divisions to RAPID configuration. At this time we are unable to say which path the Army will take.

The original RAPIDs concept, tested in Exercise Brasstacks (winter, 1986/87), made the following changes in a standard plains infantry division:

Surveillance company.

boosting the capabilities of the HQ Battery.

These relatively small changes greatly enhanced the plains division's firepower, mobility, and surveillance capability, but at an affordable cost for a resource strapped army. Further, because the changes were incremental rather than drastic, they suited the Indian Army's temperament of taking changes slowly, while thoroughly mastering new concepts, technologies, and organizations.

Mandeep Bajwa writes:

Available details of the four RAPID divisions are as follows:

Division

Parent Formation

Cantonment

     

14 RAPID (Offensive)

II Corps

HQ Dehradoon, UP

Division Artillery Brigade

 

Raiwala

35 Infantry Brigade

 

Dehra Doon

58 Armored Brigade

 

Roorkee

116 Infantry Brigade

 

Dehra Doon

     

18 RAPID (Defensive)

X Corps

HQ Kota, Rajasthan

Division Artillery Brigade

 

Alwar

?? Infantry Brigade

 

Kota

?? Infantry Brigade

 

Kota

?? Armored Brigade

 

Kota

     

24 RAPID (Defensive)

X Corps

HQ Bikaner, Rajasthan

Division Artillery Brigade

 

Bikaner

25 Infantry Brigade

 

Bhatinda (Corps HQ)

180 Armored Brigade

 

Bikaner

?? Infantry Brigade

 

Lalgarh Jattan

     

36 RAPID (Offensive)

I Corps

HQ Saugor, MP

Division Artillery Brigade

 

Talbehat

18 Armored Brigade

 

Gwalior

72 Infantry Brigade

 

Gwalior

115 Infantry Brigade

 

Dhana

The organization for all armored brigades integral to RAPIDs, whether offensive or defensive, is identical:

The Reconnaissance and Support Battalions use BRDMs, and are not to be confused with the proposed armored reconnaissance regiments. An R & S Battalion has:

A reconnaissance company has:

Ravi Rikhye concludes

The addition of a second mechanized infantry battalion to the RAPID at least partially addresses a weakness of the original RAPID, the shortage of mechanized infantry. The R & S battalions have an infantry lineage, all four belonging to the Brigade of Guards. The Support function is emphasized at the expense of the reconnaissance function, and the R & S battalion cannot perform anything akin to the cavalry functions except under circumscribed standards. Presumably, the proposed armored reconnaissance regiments, which will go to the armored divisions, will be true cavalry organizations.

 

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All content © 2002 Ravi Rikhye. Reproduction in any form prohibited without express permission.