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The Territorial Army in India (commonly referred to as TA in India) is an organization of volunteers who receive military training for a few days in a year so that in case of an emergency they can be mobilized for the defence of the country.

It is a second line of defense after the Regular Indian Army; the Indian Territorial Army is not a profession, occupation or a source of employment. It is only meant for those people who are already in mainstay civilian professions, in fact, gainful employment or self-employment in a civil profession is a pre-requisite for joining the Territorial Army.


The Indian Defence Force, incorporating Europeans and Indians in separate sections, was formed by the British in 1917. It was established in order to release regular troops from garrison duties during the First World War. It was divided into British and Indian sections. Like the Indian Army of the time, units in the Indian section consisted primarily of British officers and Indian other ranks. Units in the British section were all British. The Indians were volunteers, but many of the Europeans were conscripted, as the Indian Defence Force Act 1917 made military service compulsory for all Europeans permanently residing in British India (including the princely states) between the ages of 16 and 50.[1] Boys between 16 and 18 were only obliged to undertake training and men over 40 only had to serve in their local district, but men between 19 and 40 were obliged to serve anywhere required within the country. Only clergy were exempt.[2]

The IDF was generally unpopular among the British conscripts. It was replaced by the Auxiliary Force (India) (for Europeans and Eurasians) and the Indian Territorial Force (for Indians) in 1920.[3]

The modern Territorial Army was formally inaugurated by the first Indian Governor-General of India Shri C. Rajagopalachari on October 9, 1949 after the Independence Territorial Army Act was passed in 1948. October 9 is celebrated by the Prime Minister's Territorial Army Day Parade.[4]

The Territorial Army initially had various types of units such as armoured regiments, infantry battalions, air defence, medical regiments, engineers field park companies, signal regiments, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) workshops, coast batteries, Army Service Corps GT Coy, ASC Compo Pl, and AMC field ambulances. By 1972 these units were either disbanded or converted to Regular Army units with the exception of infantry battalions.

Territorial Army units were actively involved in military operations in 1962, 1965 and 1971. The "Terriers" have also taken part in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka, Operation Rakshak in Punjab & J&K, Operation Rhino and Operation Bajrang in the North East. Departmental units came to the aid of the civil authorities during industrial unrest and natural calamities, most famous being earthquake in Latur (Maharastra), Uttarkashi in Garhwal Himalaya and the super cyclone in Orissa. The Ecological units have arrested man made environmental degradation by planting 2.5 crore trees over 20,000 hectare of land in Mussoorie hills & Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand), Bikaner & Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) and ravines of Chambal in Madhya Pradesh.

Force structure[]

The Territorial Army is part of the regular Indian Army. The present role of the Territorial Army is to relieve the Regular Army from static duties and assist civil administration in dealing with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services in situations where life of the communities is affected or the security of the country is threatened, and to provide units for the Regular Army as and when required.

Presently the Territorial Army has a strength of approximately 40,000 first line troops (and 160,000 second line troops) comprising departmental Territorial Army units such as railway, IOC, ONGC, telecommunication and General Hospital, and the non-departmental Territorial Army units of infantry battalions and ecological battalions affiliated to various infantry regiments.

TA Group Headquarters, All Over India[]

  • TA GP HQ, Southern Command – Pune
  • TA GP HQ, Eastern Command – Kolkata
  • TA GP HQ, Western Command – Chandigarh
  • TA GP HQ, Central Command – Lucknow
  • Dir DSC, Northern Command – Udhampur

Departmental Units[]

Non-Departmental Units[]

Ecological Battalions[]

  • 127 Infantry Battalion (TA) Garhwal Rifles Eco – Dehradun
  • 128 Infantry Battalion (TA) Rajputana Rifles Eco – Bikaner
  • 129 Infantry Battalion (TA) JAK LI Eco – Samba
  • 130 Infantry Battalion (TA) Kumaon Eco – Pithoragarh
  • 131 Infantry Battalion (TA) Rajput Eco – Gwalior
  • 132 Infantry Battalion (TA) Eco – Bhatti Mines, Delhi


Infantry training is carried out on urban and provincial systems.

Urban systems of training
  • Recruit Training: Training is carried out on weekends and holidays. Four hours of training is counted as one day. Thirty-Six days in the first year only including a camp of not less than four days if the trainee volunteers with the written consent of his employer, if any.
  • Annual Training: A minimum of thirty six days, with extensions up to a maximum of sixty days including a camp for fourteen days.
  • Post Commission Training: All Officers are required to undergo ten weeks of Post commission training within two years of their commissioning.Ex Officers from Regular Army or Short Service Commissioned can be exempted from this training which is at the sole discretion of the Commanding Officer.
  • Voluntary training to gain additional military training, provided the trainee Volunteers with the written consent of the employer, if any.
Provincial systems of training
  • Recruit Training: For a continuous period of thirty days in the first year only.
  • Annual Training: For a continuous period of two calendar months in the first and subsequent years.
  • Post commission Training: Officers receive ten weeks of compulsory post commission training within two years of commissioning.
  • Voluntary Training to gain additional military training, provided the trainee volunteers with the written consent of his employer, if any.

Notable Members[]

Many famous Indians have been members of this unique force, including Brigadier K P Singh Deo, former Cabinet Minister; Captain Rao Birender Singh, former Chief Minister of the State of Haryana; Subir Raha, former Chairman, ONGC; Padam Shree, Brigadier (Ret.) Dr. Kapil Mohan V.S.M. PhD Managing Director, Mohan Meakin Breweries and various present ministers, legislators, senior civil officers and professionals.

Muthukrishnan Iyyappan, commissioned in 1999 was the first officer of the Territorial Army to be permanently seconded to the regular army. He joined the 3rd battalion of 8 Gorkha Rifles and served a tenure at the Siachen Glacier — again the first officer of Territorial Army to serve in the Siachen Glacier. Capt. Muthukrishnan Iyyappan was also the first officer of the Territorial Army to be posted at the Defense Services Staff College where he was the Officer Commanding - Troops during 1999–2000.

Navdeep Singh, a lawyer, is known to have received the highest number of decorations/awards in the Territorial Army. Major Vishal Bakshi, Chairman of VR Industries, was awarded with the Vishisht Seva Medal, on Republic Day, 2010.[5]

Prof. Dr. Deepak Rao, a military trainer, scientist, author, and physician is considered to be an authority in the field of Close Quarter Battle training. He has been conferred an Honorary Rank of Major in the Territorial Army[6][7] after 17 years of imparting special Close Quarter Battle commando training to the armed forces. He serves as the Executive Director of the Unarmed & Commando Combat Academy and has been appointed as Resource Personnel for imparting training in Close Quarter Battle by the Ministry of Home Affairs, India.[8]

On 1 Nov, 2011 Mahendra Singh Dhoni 106 INF Bn (TA) PARA and Abhinav Bindra 124 INF Bn (TA) Sikh Li has also been awarded the rank of Lt. Colonel in Territorial Army for their contribution in the field of cricket and shooting respectively.[6][7]

Mechanical Engineer from Special Class Railway Apprentice 96 Batch, Prashant Kumar Singh, posted as Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer at Carriage & Wagon Workshop, Alambagh represented Indian Railways TA at Rastrapati Bhawan[9] Captain Prashant Kumar Singh participated and presented the tableau from Railway’s side in Prime minister’s Territorial Army Day parade on October 4 in Parade Ground Delhi. He is the only officer to have received the General Manager Railway Award on the recommendation of Territorial Army.[10] He represented Indian Railway Territorial Army before the President of India, Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, at the "Calling On the President" that was held at Rashtrapati Bhawan on 13 October 2011.

Capt Jitender Kumar Sharma, Platoon Cdr at 1101 Railway Engineer's Regiment (TA) at Chandigarh is presently posted as Senior Coaching Depot Officer at New Delhi Railway Station, has also been posted in Railway Board earlier. Recently under his leadership, his depot bagged the General Manager's Best Coaching Depot Shield in Northern Railway.

Honorary Officers[]

  • Kapil Dev joined the Territorial Army on September 24, 2008 and was commissioned as an Hon. Lieutenant Colonel.[11][12]
  • Mohanlal joined Territorial Army as Hon. Lieutenant Colonel on 9 July 2009 - the army announced his appointment in December 2008.He is the first and only actor who have been conferred this title. His role in two films, Keerthichakra and 2008 film, as an army member,led to his interest in the army and he voluntarily joined the Territorial Army.[13][14]
  • Deepak Rao was commissioned into the Para TA Regiment with the Hon. Rank of Major by the President of India on 1 Nov 2011[6][7] for his contribution of 17 years in modernization of Close Quarter Battle for the Indian Army.[15] Rao, along with his spouse Dr . Seema Rao trained 15,000 soldiers over 17 years in Close Quarter Battle training and hence was cited to be Indias foremost pioneer and specialist in Close Quarter Warfare by the Indian Ministry of Defence.[16][17] His method of Reflex shooting has been used to modernize combat shooting in Northern Command and eastern Command under directive of Army commanders. He serves as the Executive Director of the Unarmed & Commando Combat Academy and has also been appointed as Resource Person for imparting training in Close Quarter Battle by the Ministry of Home Affairs, India.[8]
  • Mahendra Singh Dhoni Para(TA) and Abhinav Bindra 124 SIKH(TA) were conferred the rank of (Hony) Lt Col for their contribution in the field of cricket and shooting respectively.[6][7]
  • Sachin Pilot, was inducted into the Territorial Army on September 6, 2012. He becomes the first Union Minister to be commissioned as a regular officer in the Territorial Army.[18]

See also[]


  1. "Indian Defence Force", The Times, 3 March 1917
  2. "Compulsory Service in India: The New Defence Force", The Times, 7 March 1917
  3. "Indian Auxiliary Force: First Year's Success", The Times, 12 October 1921
  4. [1]
  5. "New Delhi News : Vishisht Seva Medal for TA officer". The Hindu. 2010-01-26. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Firstpost (2011-10-31). "Army to confer Lt Col rank upon Dhoni, Bindra". Firstpost. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Army to confer Lt Col rank upon Bindra, Dhoni - News". 2011-10-31. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Home Ministry Authorizes". Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  9. "Welcome To The Irsme Website". 2011-10-13. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  10. "Article Window". Times of India. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  11. "Kapil Dev joins Territorial Army". 2004-12-31. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  12. Kapil Dev joins Territorial Army
  13. "Mohanlal wants to join Territorial Army - Movies News News - IBNLive". 2008-11-01. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  14. Mohanlal to become a Lt Colonel
  15. "State Govt Commendation". 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  16. "Ministry of Defence, India - Press release". Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  17. "Ministry of Defence - Report". Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  18. Sachin Pilot commissioned as Territorial Army officer

External links[]

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