World News

In New Delhi: The Army, Navy, and Indian Air Force (IAF) are “99%” on board with the general outline of the theatre commands being shaped by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Anil Chauhan, it is learned after months of dithering, several proposals, and objections.

“1% is still present, but this is still a work in progress. According to a prominent source in the defence and security sector, it will take some more time.

The source explained to ThePrint that the problem was more administrative than operational when asked what concerns still lingered.

The purpose of establishing theatre commands is to facilitate better preparation and a coordinated military response to any potential conflicts. Three theatre commands based on geographic borders will exist under the present design, which is different from what was originally envisioned.

According to sources, two of the three will be land-based and one would be maritime.

Like the service chiefs and the CDS, the three theatre commands are most likely to be led by four-star officers.

Three-star officers will be in charge of other joint commands, such as those for logistics, training, cyber and space, missiles, and intelligence.

According to insiders, the service chiefs would oversee pay and maintenance while all theatre commanders will answer to the CDS.

ThePrint had reported that significant disagreements within the military forces on the fundamental structure of theatre commands would be a delaying factor, despite claims made in February 2020 that the theatre commands would be completed in three years.

The Secretary of Military Affairs, the CDS, has been given the responsibility of “facilitating the restructuring of military commands for optimal resource utilisation by fostering jointness in operations, including through the establishment of joint/theatre commands.”

According to this, a single military would operate under designated commanders with territorial jurisdiction, just like the Chinese and Americans do.

The Maritime Theatre Command and the Air Defence Command were two theatres that the late Gen. Bipin Rawat, a former CDS, wanted to launch initially.

Only two of the almost 17 lakh-strong Indian armed forces’ 19 individual commands—the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) and the Strategic Forces Command, the latter of which is in charge of nuclear assets—are tri-service commands.

The original plan was to consolidate these various service commands into five theatres and functional commands, including the Northern Land Theatre (Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and Central sector), Western Land Theatre (focused on Pakistan), Eastern Land Theatre, Maritime Theatre Command, and Air Defence Command.

The final design of the theatrical command structure is anticipated to be finalised over the coming months and will then go through a formal approval procedure.


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