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Army Service Corps
 
History
 

Introduction

1. The Army Service Corps (ASC) is the oldest and the largest administrative service in the Indian Army. From a modest beginning during the days of the East India Company, it has steadily extended the scope of its activities until now when it operates on land, water and air. The Corps has participated in a large number of campaigns fought over three continents and over all types of terrain from dry deserts to snowy mountains, jungles and high altitude areas. During the course of its long existence, the complexion of the Corps has changed continuously until the integrated ASC Battalions existing today were evolved. The Corps presents interesting aspects for study and reflection from all points of view.

Origin

2. Commissariat Department. The Corps began its life as administrative components of the armies of the East India Company in 1760 in the three Presidencies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay , known as the Commissariat. Depending upon the needs of these armies, the size of the commissariat fluctuated and the nature of its activities underwent many changes. The regular commissariat departments of the Army were set up in 1810 in the Presidencies of Bengal and Madras and in 1811 in Bombay . These departments provided the Army with its requirements of food, transport and horses, largely depending upon contractors.

3. Many changes were made in the control of the department as well as in its methods of operation. Control was exercised by the military board in some presidencies and Commissary Generals in others. In fact, the earliest appointment of Commissary General was in 1760, but the post was abolished in 1773. In 1867, during the post-Persian war period a Land Transport Corps was raised. Though it remained dormant, it did not disappear completely.

4. Amalgamation of Commissariat Departments. The separate commissariat departments under the control of the three Presidencies were amalgamated in 1878 and the organization was renamed as “Supply and Transport Corps” in 1901. So far, the departments were manned by non-combatant personnel. Militarisation of personnel started with the operations in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in which the Corps took part. In 1902, the first mechanical transport (MT) vehicle was issued to the Corps.
 

5. Designation of Indian Army Service Corps and the “Royal” Title. The Corps rapidly expanded and took part in overseas campaigns during World War I. During this period it attained the status of permanent and integral part of the armed forces and developed the characteristics of a combat force. The excellent performance of the Corps resulted in its being named as 'Indian Army Service Corps' in 1923 and was allowed to use the prefix 'Royal' in 1935 and came to be known as RIASC. This privilege allowed the Corps personnel to wear the red lanyard on the right shoulder. A new cap badge with the eight-pointed star along with the imperial cypher and garter was introduced at this time. The motto of the badge meant 'Evil to him who evil thinks'.

 
Early Developments

6. World War I. Our Corps participated in World War I with: -
 

(a) Expedition A.        -    For service in France and Egypt.

(b) Expedition B.        -    Defensive expedition to East Africa.

(c) Expedition C.        -    Offensive expedition to East Africa.

(d) Expedition D.        -    Mesopotamia expeditionary Force.

 
7. World War II. The Second World War introduced many changes in the organisation of the Corps, which increased its strength and widened its area of activities. The Corps personnel were completely militarised and transport fully mechanised. As a result of the mechanisation, supply of fuel became the responsibility of the Corps. The development of the Air Force caused the Corps to provide aviation fuel to the Air Force also, thus introducing an inter-service character to its role. Above all, the Corps also became airborne to supply the troops fighting in the jungles of Burma.

8. In order to fulfill its various roles, many types of units were raised. These included supply companies, supply platoons, transit platoons, cold storage units, Fuel Oil and Lubricant (FOL) units, various types of general and specialist transport units, amphibian companies, air despatch companies and a large number of animal transport units. These units served in far-flung theatres of operations from Japan to Europe . They also supported the operations of the Army, Navy and Air Force in their individual as well as combined operations.

9. Mechanical Transport units did a commendable job in ferrying stores for Russians across 730 miles of inhospitable Persian countryside. Nearer home, the RIASC was an important element in the Arakan Campaign where RIASC convoys fought their way through to take much needed supplies to the beleaguered troops. Again the RIASC carried men and material along, long and arduous communications to the Fourteenth Army. Air despatch companies provided steady support to General Wingate’s long range penetration group and also played a prominent part in supporting the main offensive of the Fourteenth Army across the grain of the Burmese mountains. Thus, the Corps gained vast general and technical experience, serving in practically every theatre of war and under most trying conditions. Indian officers gradually replaced the large number of British officers who served initially with the Corps, and by the end of the war, the Corps was practically Indianised.

10. Awards. During World War II, our Corps personnel won the following awards: -
 

(a) Gallantry Awards. 4 DSOs, 25 MCs, 67 MMs, 4 IDMs and 34 IDSMs.

(b) Meritorious Service Awards. 4 CBs, 8 CIEs, 13 CBEs, 60 OBEs, 161 MBEs, 15 BEMs, 185 OBIs, 5 Jagirs and 7 foreign decorations.

 

Post Independence

11. Amalgamation of Catering Corps, Corps of Clerks & Postal Services. At the advent of independence, the Corps had the Supply, Animal Transport, Mechanical Transport, FOL and Air Despatch wings. Though reduced numerically due to partition of the country and subsequent division of forces, nuclei of all these wings were maintained and adequate training facilities were established. The operations in Kashmir caused further expansion all round. The Indian Catering Corps was amalgamated with the Corps in 1948, followed soon after by the Indian Army Corps of Clerks. The Food Testing Laboratories, which functioned during the Second World War, were controlled by the Medical Corps. Most of them were disbanded after the war but were revived as a Food Inspection Organisation in 1948 as part of the RIASC. Similarly, the Army Postal Service which had to expand its activities during the Kashmir operations was also affiliated with the Corps in 1950 and remained as such until when it formed a separate independent Corps in 1972.

12. Shedding of 'ROYAL' Title. On 26 Jan 1950 , when India became a republic, the Corps dropped the prefixed title 'ROYAL' and became the Army Service Corps. On 08 Dec 1950, the President of India accorded sanction to the Corps to use the National Emblem in the ASC badge and wear the red lanyard on the right shoulder as a recognition of its services. On 08 Dec 1952 the first Corps Day was celebrated and that day has remained our Corps Day ever since.

13. Post Independence War Operations. Since independence, the ASC has taken part in operations in Kashmir, Nagaland, against the Chinese in Ladakh and NEFA in 1962 and against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. Most of these conflicts took place at short notice without the necessary build-up which usually precedes such actions. Despite the odds against it, the Corps rose to the occasion and delivered the goods. The impressment of large numbers of civil vehicles and their effective control was notable development during this period. ASC has also been deeply involved with logistics for various low intensity conflict operations and counter insurgency operations. It took part in Indian Peace Keeping Force operations (IPKF) in Sri Lanka. The Corps has been very efficiently meeting the supply and transport needs of our troops deployed for OP MEGDOOT and OP RAKSHAK. During OP VIJAY the Corps had risen to the needs of our brave soldiers and excelled by providing the invaluable logistic support in the difficult and treacherous terrain of Kargil Sector. 874 AT Bn got unit citation in OP VIJAY for there exemplary services.

14. Service Abroad. The Corps also served overseas under the auspices of the United Nations in Korea , Egypt and Congo. An ASC contingent was sent to Indo-China as part of International Control Commission in 1954. At all these places, the Corps units acquitted themselves with credit. After a lapse of three decades the Indian Army recommenced contribution of troop contingents to UN peacekeeping operations in 1993. Consequent to this decision, ASC contingents were sent to Mozambique and Somalia as part of Indian Logistic Contingent for UN Force in Mozambique (UNOMOZ) and Indian Peace Keeping Contingent for Somalia (UNOSOM). Both contingents have accredited themselves well in the true traditions of the Corps.

15. Miscellaneous Events. In 1963, the ASC complement in a Division was reorganised into an ASC Battalion. Thus for the first time various branches of the Corps were fully integrated into a compact command. In May 1975, a Petroleum Cell headed by a Col was created in the Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals for liaison duties.

16. Streamlining. In Jul 1975, the Supplies and Transport setup at the Sub Area and Area Headquarters was re-organised. In stations where Sub Area ST was eliminated, Area Headquarters were upgraded from CASC (Lt Col) to DDST (Col). The DDST’s office was established with a view to enable economic survey and market research by creating a cell for the same purpose and for scientific and statistical study of economic constraints affecting decision-making. In Sub Areas, which were located away from Area Headquarters, a reduced establishment for concluding contracts and advisory function was retained. Other major changes deserving mention are: -

 

(a) After almost 29 years of stay at Meerut ,The ASC Centre (North) was moved to Gaya in Feb 1976.

(b) In Jun 1976, the air maintenance setup was streamlined. Army Air Transport Organisation (AATO) and Rear Airfield Supply Organisation (RASO) were disbanded and ASC Battalions (Air Maintenance) came into being. Again in a review in 1992, the air maintenance setup has been reduced.

(c) In Sep 1976, the supply and FOL cover was again reorganised and supply depots were upgraded. Re-organisation of supply and FOL cover is a continuous process.

(d) In 1976, most of the Independent Transport Platoons and Companies (including civil GT) were grouped into ASC Battalions (MT).

(e) In Aug 1977, a Coal Cell was created at Headquarters Coal India Limited, Calcutta, headed by a Col. Four despatch cum inspection teams (DITs) each headed by a Maj were also sanctioned at the same time for functioning at various collieries/pitheads.

(f) From 1990-91 till date, certain other organisational changes have taken place based on Expert Committee Report and other such studies. Reduction has also taken place in Animal Transport authorisation in the Corps.

(g) On 01 May 99, move of ASC School Bareilly and its merger with ASC Centre (South) and Army School of Mechanical Transport was concluded, and the merged institution was christened as the ASC Centre and College (Bangalore).

(h) On 31 Mar 11, relocation of ASC Centre (N) from Gaya to Bangluru was completed.
 

17. New Designation. The designation of the Corps has now been changed to “Sena Seva Corps”.

      
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