India will develop its own theatrical command model: CDS Rawat

NEW DELHI: India will develop its own mechanisms for theater commands, says the chief of general defense personnel (CDS), in the context of the urgent need to build an integrated land-air-sea war fighting machinery for a greater blow of combat despite the current crisis of funds for military modernization.

There are methods to do theatricalization. We do not have to copy from Western or other methods. We can have our own systems. We will work together mechanisms ... I think it will work, said Gen Rawat, after taking the honor guard of three services at South Block on Wednesday. Although Gen Rawat did not detail the details, the sources said that the government had entrusted him to initiate and lead doctrinal and transformational changes, as well as prepare a road map for the first new theatrical command to be established in four or five years.

This, of course, will take some work because the Army, Navy and IAF jealously guard their territories. The only theater or geographical command of India in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, strategically located, which places all the assets and labor of the three services under a single operational commander, has not greatly achieved its potential due to the rivalry between services, general political-bureaucratic apathy and financing problems since its creation in 2001.

The PMO and the defense establishment have discussed the need for integrated commands in recent years. There was even a proposal to establish theater commands in the form of one or two (one for the west and east of Nepal ) for the northern borders with China, a western command for Pakistan , a counterinsurgency operations command and one from the south or two peninsular commands for maritime borders. A strategic air command, in turn, could be managed by the IAF.

But the IAF had strongly opposed the move, stressing it would be operationally unwise to divide the country’s “limited air assets” among different theatre commands. The force, after all, has just 30 fighter squadrons when at least 42 are needed for requisite deterrence against any collusive threat from Pakistan and China.

Similar is the case with other critical platforms such as AWACS (warning and airborne control systems) and air refueling aircraft. “The whole country must be treated as one theater. We have demonstrated through Gagan Shakti and other exercises that the IAF can quickly change its assets from the western front to the east, and vice versa, if the need arises, said a senior IAF official.

But the dominant opinion in the defense system is that the time has come for India, which has up to 17 single service commands, to move towards integrated commands to save resources and prepare for future wars.

Gen Rawat, on the other hand, said: “The task is cut for the CDS to integrate all three services and improve their capabilities through teamwork. We must ensure that the 1 + 1 + 1 combination of the three services adds up to 5 or 7, and not 3. Synergy is needed. The whole should be more than the sum of the parts. ” He added that he would strive to achieve union in operations, planning, procurement, logistics, transportation, training and the like within the three-year term established by the government.