The last mounted Cavalry regiment of the Indian Army and one of the few in the world, 61 Cavalry, will soon lose its special tag and be equipped with tanks instead of horses.
Sources in the Army revealed that the wheels have been set in motion to mechanise the Jaipur-based regiment and give it a more contemporary role.
“There are three independent armoured squadrons located at various parts of the country and these will be brought under 61 Cavalry to form an armoured regiment. This will entail virtually no extra expenditure as the squadrons are already equipped with tanks,”a senior officer said while confirming the move.
The transition of the regiment to a full-fledged armoured regiment will take around five months time or even more, in view of the Covid-19 restrictions in place. The regiment will be stationed at a new location in an active field formation.
Sources say the horses of the regiment will be located in Delhi where the unit already has a presence along with the Army Polo and Riding Club. This horse squadrons will have personnel who are trained in equitation and will fall under the purview of Director General Mechanised Forces.
The proposal to change the regiment’s role to an active armoured regiment is based on the recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee. The committee, under the chairmanship of Lt. Gen DB Shekatkar (retd), had been set up to suggest measures to enhance combat capability and re-balance defence expenditure of the armed forces and had submitted its report in December 2016.
The regiment had a mostly ceremonial role and was also deeply involved in equestrian events and has produced many famous riders.
The origins of 61 Cavalry lie in the years immediately after Independence in 1947 when the princely states were amalgamated with India. With the abolishment of these states, it was decided to disband all regular and irregular erstwhile state forces Cavalry units and raise a new “Horse Cavalry Regiment”.
Among the Cavalry Regiments that were amalgamated to form the 61st Cavalry, in 1954, were the Gwalior Lancers, Jodhpur/Kachhawa Horse, and Mysore Lancers.
With the mechanisation of 61 Cavalry, the President’s Bodyguards (PBG) will be the only horsed element remaining in the Army. The PBG performs ceremonial roles for the President of India.