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The British Indian Army was a critical force for the primacy of the British Empire both in India and across the world.

Besides maintaining the internal security of the British Raj, the Army fought in many other theatres: the Anglo-Burmese Wars, First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars, First, Second and Third Anglo-Afghan Wars, First and Second Opium Wars in China, Abyssinia, and the Boxer Rebellion in China.

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In 1939, British officials had no plan for expansion and training of Indian forces, which comprised about 130,000 men (in addition there were 44,000 men in British units in India in 1939).

Their mission was internal security and defence against a possible Soviet threat through Afghanistan. By the end of the war it had become the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men in August 1945.

Other major operations undertaken by the army include: Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot and Operation Cactus.

Apart from conflicts, the army has conducted large peace time exercises like Operation Brasstacks and Exercise Shoorveer, and it has also been an active participant in numerous United Nations peacekeeping missions including those in: Cyprus, Lebanon, Congo, Angola, Cambodia, Vietnam, Namibia, El Salvador, Liberia, Mozambique and Somalia.

They were originally intended as pathfinders for German forces in Asia, but were soon sent to help guard the Atlantic Wall.

Few who were part of the Free India Legion ever saw any combat, and very few were ever stationed outside Europe.

The Indian Army has a regimental system, but is operationally and geographically divided into seven commands, with the basic field formation being a division.

It is an all-volunteer force and comprises more than 80% of the country's active defence personnel.

The primary mission of the Indian Army is to ensure national security and national unity, defending the nation from external aggression and internal threats, and maintaining peace and security within its borders.

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