As the 27th battalion of the Mechanized Infantry Regiment gets added to the Indian Army, a new chapter gets added to its history. Attended by a number of military and civil dignitaries, the raising ceremony of the battalion was held on July 17.
Equipped with BMP-II, the formidable anti-tank platform, the 27th Mechanized Infantry Battalion has been raised at Bhusaval, Maharashtra, under the leadership of Colonel Ajay Singh Rathore. The battalion will soon join the ranks of the battalions already deployed.
The regiment could not be initiated earlier owing to the acute shortage of BMPs, the vehicle of Russian origin that is used to carry soldiers. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) mentioned in his 2015 report that there was a 47 per cent shortage of BMP vehicles in the Indian Army.
The key reason behind this shortage was the delayed supply of BMPs by Ordnance Factories Board since the year 2009. According to the report, apart from impacting the operational preparedness of mechanized forces, this delay also led to an extra liability of at least Rs. 270.97 crore as the costs got escalated.
According to the Indian Army, it is costly to raise mechanized infantry battalions, therefore, the use of arms is prioritized in operations in forward areas.
The report by the Times of India quotes an army officer saying,
One mechanized infantry battalion consists of around 62 BMP vehicles and about 800 personnel, including officers. It requires huge budgetary allocation. Considering the current threat perceptions in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast regions, the Indian army has been paying more attentions to its fighting arms as they are directly involved in operations. As a result, adequate budget was not allocated to the mechanized infantry in the past two decades. This has hampered its expansion plans.
Elaborating on the significance of use of the mechanized infantry, former director general of mechanized forces, Lt. Gen. Dalip Bhardwaj said,
The mechanized infantry works in tandem with the armoured regiment and plays pivotal role in operations. It is a positive development that one more battalion has been added in the force
Apart from proving its competence in all sorts of terrains including high altitude, one of the youngest regiments of the Indian army, the Mechanized Infantry Regiment has also been a participant at several Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations.