Brigade of the Guards

The Brigade of The Guards (Hindi:ब्रिगेड ऑफ़ द गार्ड्स/गार्ड ब्रिगेड) is a mechanised infantry brigade of the Indian Army. It was raised as the first “all India”, “all class” infantry unit of the Army where troops from all parts of India serve together, as opposed to other regiments that recruit from specific regions, ethnic groups or religions.

For the British Army unit, see Brigade of Guards.
Brigade of The Guards

Regimental Insignia of the Brigade of The Guards
Active 1949 – Present
Country India
Allegiance Indian Army
Branch Army
Type Foot Guards
Role Mechanized Infantry
Size 23 Battalions
Regimental Centre Kamptee, Maharashtra.
Motto(s) Pahla Hamesha Pahla (First Always First)
War Cry Garud Ka Hun Bol Pyare (I am the son of Garuda, Say O my friend)
Theatre Honours Jammu & Kashmir – 1947-48, Rajasthan – 1965, Punjab – 1965, East Pakistan – 1971 and Jammu & Kashmir – 1971
Decorations 1 Param Vir Chakra, 2 Ashoka Chakras, 1 Padma Bhushan, 8 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 6 Maha Vir Chakras, 4 Kirti Chakras, 46 Vir Chakras, 18 Shaurya Chakras, 77 Sena Medals, 10 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 3 Yudh Seva Medals, 16 Vishisht Seva Medals, 45 Mention-in-Despatches, 151 COAS’s Commendation Cards and 79 GOC-in-C’s Commendation Cards
Battle honours Akhaura, Burki, Gadra Road, Hilli, Naushera, Gurais, Shingo River Valley, Sylhet and Ganga Sagar
Regimental Insignia Garuda – A mythological eagle king.
Hackle Red over Yellow
Military unit

The Brigade of The Guards distinguished itself by being awarded the most battle honours after Indian independence. The regiment was the brain-child of Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa, who was the first Indian commander-in-chief (C-in-C) of the Indian Army. He raised the Brigade of the Guards and coined the phrase; “The Guards, The Elite”.

The President of India is the Honorary Colonel-in-Chief and the Chief of Army Staff is the Colonel-in-Chief of The Guards. The Guards Regimental Centre is at Kamptee in Maharashtra. The Brigade of The Guards was the senior most line infantry regiment of the Indian Army before its selection and conversion to the mechanised infantry role. It now holds the title of the senior most infantry regiment in an honorary/ceremonial capacity. Together with the Mechanised Infantry Regiment, they form part of the ‘Mechanised Infantry’ arm, which along with the Armoured Corps form the Mechanised Forces.

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The Guards marching contingent passes through the Rajpath during the 66th Republic Day Parade, 2015

The Brigade of Guards was raised in 1949 on the lines of the elite Guards units of the world, particularly, the Coldstream Guards of the British Army‘s Guards Division. The regiment was raised to implement the government’s policy of encouraging Army recruitment from classes and regions which had been under-represented in the forces. Raised as The Guards Brigade, the old system of class composition was replaced with recruitment open to all regions, castes, creeds, and sections of society.

Prior to the raising of the Guards, Indian Army infantry regiments derived their name and troop composition from region, religion or sub-caste. There was a message with its formation that the country comes before everything else, including religion and caste. The regiment was formed as the first mixed class Indian regiment to be raised after Indian independence by Field MarshalKM CariappaOBE. Three of the Army’s oldest and most distinguished battalions were converted as Guards battalions in 1949:

A year later, they were joined by the 1st Battalion, Rajput Regiment as the 4th Battalion. It was the only regiment of foot guards in the Indian Army. Though the Brigade of The Guards is only 70 years old, its constituent battalions go back as far as 225 years and between them share 93 battle honours earned around the globe.[1]

From its raising till 1964, the Colonel of the Regiment was the serving Chief of the Army Staff. On 1 January 1964, Brigadier (later Lieutenant General) NC Rawlley became the first Colonel of the Regiment of the Brigade of the Guards. The Chiefs of the Army Staff continue to be the Honorary Colonels of the Brigade of Guards.[2]

Currently the Brigade of the Guards consists of 19 regular battalions and 2 territorial battalions and 1 RR (Rashtriya

Rifles) battalion. In the 1980s, the Indian Army began to increase the number of mechanized infantry battalions on its order of battle. As part of this program, the battalions of the Brigade of Guards were eventually converted to mechanized infantry.

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