SOUTHERN COMMAND - OLDEST FIELD FORMATION OF INDIAN ARMY

 

1.     The Great Indian Rebellion of 1857 not just resulted in the transfer of power from the East India Company to the British Crown but also a reorganisation of existing military formations. With effect from April 1, 1895 the Presidency Armies were abolished to form the Indian Army. Four separate commands, Bombay, Bengal, Punjab and Madras came into existence with the Bombay Command being headquartered in Pune since April 1, 1895, the day which marks the raising of the command in Pune.

 

2.     Around 1908, the Indian Army further reorganised with four Commands being replaced by two Armies. The Northern Army headquartered at Rawalpindi and the Southern Army at Poona. In the early 1920s, the four commands were reintroduced with Southern Command headquartered in Poona, Northern Command at Rawalpindi, Eastern Command at Nainital and a Western Independent District with the status of a Command headquartered at Quetta. During World War II, the Southern Command was briefly shifted to Bangalore primarily for the defence of ports, airfields and also to prepare for an offensive if required in response to the anticipated advances from Germany and Japan. At the time of independence, the Southern Command was and still remains the oldest field formation of the Indian Army by virtue of retaining the structure as at the earliest phase of reorganisation in 1895.

 

 

3.     The formation sign of the Southern Command is the Crux commonly known as the Southern Cross. The sign is based on the four brightest star of the Crux constellation which has been a standard of navigation for millennia. As per Hindu astronomy, the Crux is referred to as Trishanku, a character in Hindu mythology.

 

4.    Today, the Southern Command comprises of two Corps with their Headquarters, located at Jodhpur and Bhopal. Amongst the static formations are the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area, with its HQ at Mumbai and the Dakshin Bharat Area with its HQ at Chennai.  Southern Command encompasses eleven States and four Union Territories covering nearly 41 percent of the country’s landmass. Its formations, establishments and units are spread over 19 cantonments and 36 military stations.

 

5.     In the post-Independence era, Southern Command carved its own identity and redefined its roles and aspirations. It is the only Command to have been engaged in overseas operations, it has participated extensively with other armies in exercises while also performing yeoman service in disaster relief, both within its confines and beyond the nation’s borders. With its strong foundation of two centuries of growth, it has consolidated and built itself into a formidable field army - one of the finest in the world. Having proved itself repeatedly in battle, Southern Command stands poised in the new millennia, geared up to undertake even more diverse roles - both operational and humanitarian.