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Indian army


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By 1902, when Kitchener became Commander‐in‐Chief in India, it was established practice that most regiments of the British army stationed a battalion in India. In 1903 the three armies of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal were united and the Indian army proclaimed by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon. Those officers holding the King's Commission were British; they were assisted by sepoy officers holding the Viceroy's Commission. Kitchener reorganized this army and established a staff college to recruit and train more Indian officers. From 1917 Indians became eligible for the full King's Commission. The Indian army served in Iran, Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt, as well as on the Western Front during World War I. In 1922 it was again reorganized, reducing the cavalry regiments and creating an Auxiliary (Territorial) Force. During the 1920s it steadily recruited and trained more Indian personnel into specialist units such as engineers and signals, while the number of British battalions stationed in India was steadily reduced. In World War II, the army served in North Africa, Italy, and Burma.

In July 1947 it was reorganized into the Indian and Pakistani armies, and its British officers were repatriated. In both countries, the army retained an important role, though it was also an important source of grievances. For instance, the army continued to recruit sections in the population whom the British had considered ‘reliable’. India began to build up the largest volunteer army in the world, with a peacetime strength of over one million men. Its army was considered to be better equipped and better organized than that of Pakistan. This caused concern that in the event of a military conflict, Pakistan would seek to compensate for its inferiority in a conflict with conventional forces through a nuclear attack. Paradoxically, despite the relative weakness of the Pakistan army relative to its Indian rival, its political influence was much higher. Even at times of civilian leadership its influence remained pivotal.

Subjects: Military History.


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