Army planning to set up mountain strike corps

New Delhi, Aug 23 : Army is planning to set up a mountain strike corps and is talking to various states including in the northeast against the backdrop of a Chinese build up of military infrastructure on its side of boundary. "We are in talks with the governments of states including Assam, West Bengal and Bihar for setting up the Mountain Corps headquarters, which would require at least 4,000 to 5,000 acres of land," senior army sources said here. Around 10-12 locations in these states have been identified by the army to set up the formation, they said. The Mountain Strike Corps is being planned by the army after it established two new Mountain Infantry Divisions for the northeastern region. The two new divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers, have their headquarters in Zakama in Nagaland and Missamari in Assam. The army is also looking to deploy ultra-light howitzers and light tanks along the Line of Actual Control in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. The IAF, on its part, has already based Sukhoi-30MKI fighters at airbases like Tezpur and Chabua. Eastern sector advanced landing grounds (ALGs) like Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro and Vijaynagar as well as several helipads in Arunachal Pradesh are also now being upgraded, much like western sector ALGs like Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyama in eastern Ladakh. All these developments come against the backdrop of a major build-up of military infrastructure by China all along the border, which includes five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).