A file photo.
NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Army has proposed an increase in its strength by around one lakh and raising a new mountain strike corps along with other new formations in the Northeast.
"We have proposed to increase our strength by another 90,000 to one lakh troops and that has been cleared by the Defence Ministry. The proposal is at present awaiting clearance from the Finance Ministry," army sources said here.
Army's present strength is more than 11 lakh troops including over 35,000 officers.
They said the increase in the number of troops will be done in a phased manner over a period of more than five to six years.
Asked about the expansion plan, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said, "We are keen on securing borders and we will take steps to do so. Wherever we feel there is a threat, adequate measures will be taken."
Asked about reports that China could do a Kargil on India, he said, "There is nothing to be particularly alarmed about the Chinese border."
He was talking to reporters at a function in Manekshaw Centre here.
Under the Army proposal, which is likely to cost over Rs 60,000 crore, the Army has sought Government's sanction for raising a mountain strike corps and four mountain divisions.
The Army is also planning to deploy two independent armoured brigades in Uttarakhand and Ladakh.
Once cleared, the proposal would be put up before the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval and financial sanction.
Some of these additional troops would also be used for deployment in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the Army presently has an amphibious brigade.
The Army is planning to increase the strength there to a division size (around 10,000 troops) and has already started converting formations suitable for deployment in these territories.
The modernisation and expansion plan also includes setting up of new airstrips and helipads in remote locations around the Chinese boundary.
After a major military infrastructure buildup by China in its territory, India has been taking a large number of steps to develop its own capabilities.
It has started revamping its old air strips in Ladakh and the Northeast for operations of both transport and fighter aircraft from there.
Meanwhile, addressing the seminar on information technology, Pallam Raju stressed upon the need for the stakeholders to work in close concert with the armed forces to make the country strong and self-reliant.
"National security is not the prerogative of the armed forces alone, Indian industry, academia and Research and Development organisations can offer definite contribution towards this effort," he said.
The Minister urged the industry to create an extremely responsive and agile Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure.
Raju said the greatest challenge for the armed forces was to transform and meet both current and future challenges.
"Having relied upon military prowess and diplomatic skills to protect its interests, our nation is now in conflict with stateless entities seeking hearts and minds, not merely land or treasure," he said.
In his address, Army Chief Gen V K Singh said the academia and the industry can help the armed forces leverage state-of-the-art technologies in executing dedicated ICT networks.
"Our information grid will be a potent force multiplier and will enable us to optimally use our weapon systems," he said.
In his message, Defence Minister A K Antony called upon the armed forces to forge strong partnerships with the industry and the academia to secure the goals of national security.