Corps of Engineers


The Corps of Engineers is one of the oldest arms of the Indian Army and consists of three Presidency Army (Madras, Bengal, Bombay) Sapper Groups. The origin of the Corps dates back to 1780 when the two regular pioneer companies of the Madras Sappers were raised. Subsequently, the Group of Madras, Bengal and Bombay Sappers were formed and later merged on 18 November 1932 to form the Corps of Engineers in its present form. The Regimental Centre for the Madras Engineer Group is Bangalore, Karnataka. The Regimental Centre for the Bengal Engineer Group is Roorkee, Uttar Pradesh. The Regimental Centre for the Bombay Engineer Group is Kirkee, Maharashtra. Personnel of this Corps are called Sappers, though the units are known as Engineers. The College of Military Engineering in Pune, is the premier training institution for the Corps of Engineers.

The Corps of Engineers consists of three major constituents namely Combat Engineers, the Military Engineering Service (MES) and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). The Corps also provides officers to the Military Survey and the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). In war, Combat Engineers provide mobility to own forces by constructing bridges, tracks and helipads; on the other hand the Corps denies the same to the enemy by creating obstacles such as laying mine-fields and demolition of bridges. Engineer units have been deployed abroad as part of United Nations missions. They have brought laurels to our country by constructing bridges, opening lines of communication and executing numerous humanitarian tasks. The Military Engineering Service, which is an important part of the Corps has played a crucial role in nation building. It provides cover not only to the three Services, but also to DRDO and ordnance factories.

Also under the Army Act, is the Border Roads Organization (BRO) with a body of troops known as the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF). The BRO comes under the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) of which the Chairman is the Prime Minister. On deputation with the BRO are regular army personnel drawn from the Corps of Engineers and from other arms & services of the army. The BRO has faithfully served the Indian Armed Forces, along with the Corps of Engineers, to live, to move and to fight on the battlefield. Their task varies with the terrain and types of operations and as such the BRO is kept very flexible and consists of various type of units. GREF personnel are often considered part of the Armed Forces, having the same culture and ethos, but are trained as non-combatants. These engineers have made tremendous contributions in Kashmir by making thousands of miles of new roads, clearing and opening existing roads, tracks and heavy snows ranging up to 200 feet. By constructing a large number of roads in once inaccessible areas of Rajasthan, the Himalayas and north eastern states, the BRO has contributed significantly to their economic development. True to the motto Sarvatra (Everywhere), the Corps of Engineers has excelled in multifarious activities in war and peace. In peace time the Sappers have always been in the forefront in rendering aid to the civil authorities during natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes. Engineer units have also been engaged in the COIN operations in Jammu & Kashmir and the North East.