Why Indian Air Force & Indian Navy Do Not Follow Regimental System ?

Hello Defence Lovers, A Regiment is a military unit. Their role and size varies markedly, depending on the country and the arm of service. The Indian Army has a regimental system, but is operationally and geographically divided into seven commands, with the basic field formation being a division. Regimental System is unique to the Indian Army,  But Indian Air Force and Indian Navy do not have such system.

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  • In the regimental system, each regiment is responsible for recruiting, training, and administration; each regiment is permanently maintained and therefore the regiment will develop its unique esprit de corps because of its unitary history, traditions, recruitment, and function.
  • Usually, the regiment is responsible for recruiting and administering all of a soldier’s military career. Depending upon the country, regiments can be either combat units or administrative units or both.
  • A key aspect of the regimental system is that the regiment or battalion is the fundamental tactical building block.
  • This flows historically from the colonial period, when battalions were widely dispersed and virtually autonomous, but is easily adapted to a number of different purposes. For example, a regiment might include different types of battalions (e.g. infantry or artillery) of different origins (e.g. regular or reserve).
  • Within the regimental system, soldiers, and usually officers, are always posted to a tactical unit of their own regiment whenever posted to field duty.
  • The President has given flags to the entire service in the case of the Navy and the Air Force unlike the army where individual regiments are given flags in recognition of their valiant service with the names of the theatre of operations they have served in.
  • The USP of Regimental System is unity through similarity, which works for the Army; but the Navy & IAF need “unity in diversity”.
  • The army can have soldiers of similar ethnicity as infantrymen, but it doesn’t have such Artillery units or pilots. So, you have the Sikh Light Infantry or the Jat Regiment, but not Sikh Artillery or Jat Aviation.
  • The Navy & IAF too needs specialists which can not be chosen on ethnic grounds, and so they don’t have a regimental system in place.
Indian Army :
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  • The basic fighting entity in the Army is a Section (which is 1/3 of a Platoon), and depending on the operation, a section, platoon, company (Coy), Battalion (Bn), Brigade, Division (Div), or Corps may be involved (in increasing order or hierarchy).
  • All levels up to a Battalion (Bn) are mostly of the same Regiment (Regt) and perform a particular role.
  • A Brigade often involves multiple Regiments that perform various roles in the Op, for eg, an infantry Bn goes ahead while an Artillery Bn (or Battery) gives cover.

Indian Navy :
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  • The basic fighting unit in the Navy is a ship, and based on the Op, several ships may be involved performing a particular role. Each ship has their designated role in an Op and in the fleet. And within the ship, there are multiple departments with personnel specialized in a particular thing like Navigators, ASW specialists, SONAR operators, Communicators, etc. So, the unlike an Army unit being a specialized force that knows just one thing to do, a Naval unit mostly has personnel specialized in multiple fields.
  • This very nature of a ship makes it akin to a Formation of the Army! So, a regiment of Engineers is not possible, and it’s best for the ship to fight as a single unit with all departments in synergy unlike the Army where different Arms have some amount of flexibility & autonomy.
Indian Air Force :
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  • In the IAF, the smallest fighting entity is an Aircraft (apart from the Air Defence guys). Depending on the Op, several aircraft(s) may join.
  • Everyone on the ground provides support to these Aircraft(s). So, a Squadron (Sqn)-based structure favours them instead of the Regimental system where each Sqn has a particular type of Aircraft with a particular role.
  • A Sqn is much like a Naval ship in terms of personnel of different specializations working as one unit, apart from the fact that the entire ship goes ahead as one fighting entity, while a Sqn sends few of its pilots forward to fight while others support.
Jai Hind