First theatre command to roll out by 2022: Gen Rawat

First theatre command to roll out by 2022: Gen Rawat

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 17

In what could signal major changes in the structure of the armed forces, the Department of Military Affairs has set a target of rolling out the first ‘theatre command’ in India by 2022, but before that, it’s immediately setting up two integrated commands -- one each called the Air Defence and Peninsular command.

‘Theatre command’,  also called joint commands, will look to provide  all assets for war under a single commander. “There  could be as many as five theatre commands along the western and northern land borders,” said General Bipin Rawat, who heads the newly created  Department of Military Affairs.

Speaking to a group of journalists on Monday, the General, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), said, “A thorough study will be ordered on having theatre commands by the end of this year. It will tell how many theatre commands are needed. We hope to roll out the first one by 2022.”

The services are still examining if J&K will be a separate theatre command.

On the Air Defence command, he said a report was expected by March 31. It will integrate all air defence assets under the Air Force, that includes the Coastal Guns of the Navy and ground-based air-defence missile launchers of the Army. This could be in place by the end of this year.

The Peninsular command will look to merge the eastern and western naval commands. The Navy has been sounded out and a formal study is being ordered in a few weeks from now. “The security of Indian Ocean region has to  be done by a single commander. He will be given air assets and also Army troops (for doing amphibious operations),” the General said.

The  existing tri-services command at Andaman and Nicobar Islands would remain as it is, he said. There is a plan to upgrade the three runways available on the island-chain.

On having a third aircraft carrier, General Rawat said, “Let  the first indigenous one sail; we will take a call on the next one after that. For now the priority is submarines,” he said.

Also, the DMA is looking to have a common training command and a war doctrine. “We  have to have a common doctrine and cross-postings of middle-level officers.” Common logistics is being worked out for all command platforms. This will reduce maintenance.

Furthermore, the DMA has moved a proposal for casting the contours of the department created on December 31. This includes having the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) handle  joint operations and intelligence. The  CISC, who was handling joint operations, will go as Vice CDS and will also be secretary, transformation and  coordination.

The DMA wants that vigilance cases be handled by the joint secretary who would be from the IAS. Another joint secretary from the IAS would handle  the work of parliamentary affairs.

The joint secretaries for the Navy, IAF and Army will be from the forces.

The DMA has been allocated 12 director-level civilian officers, and 12 colonel-level officers are being sought to work with the joint secretaries.

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