The Indian Army (IA, is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces.
According to the IISS, in 2010 the army had a strength of 1,129,900 active personnel and 960,000 reserve personnel, making the Indian Army the world’s largest standing volunteer army.
Its primary mission is to ensure the national security and defence of the Republic of India from external aggression and threats, and maintaining peace and security within its borders. It also conducts humanitarian rescue operations during natural calamities and other disturbances.
The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), a General, is a four star commander and commands the army. There is typically never more than one serving general at any given time in the Army. Two officers have been conferred the rank of field marshal, a 5-star rank and the officer serves as the ceremonial chief.
The Indian Army came into being when India gained independence in 1947, and inherited most of the infrastructure of the British Indian Army that were located in post-partition India. The Indian Army is a voluntary service and although a provision for military conscription exists in the Indian constitution, it has never been imposed.
Since independence, the army has been involved in four wars with neighboring Pakistan and one with the People’s Republic of China. Other major operations undertaken by the army include Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot and Operation Cactus. Apart from conflicts, the army has also been an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping missions.