Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 17
In what could alter the structure of Indian armed forces, the Department of Military Affairs has set a target of rolling out the first “theatre command” by 2022, but before that, it’s immediately setting up two integrated commands — Air Defence and Peninsular.
A theatre command will provide all assets for war under a single commander. “There can 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 today, the General, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), said, “By the end of this year, a thorough study will be ordered on having theatre commands. 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. At present, the three services collectively have 19 commands each.
Gen Rawat said a report was expected by March 31 on the Air Defence command. It would integrate all air-defence assets under the Air Force, including 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 will be ordered in a few weeks from now. “The security of the 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.”
The DMA is also 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,” he said. The DMA has moved a proposal for casting contours of the department created on December 31.
- A theatre command will provide all assets for war under a single commander
- There can be five theatre commands along the western and northern land borders
No tinkering with Andaman-Nicobar command
- The Air Defence command will integrate all air-defence assets under the Air Force, including coastal guns of the Navy and air-defence missile launchers of the Army
- The Peninsular command will merge the eastern and western naval commands to ensure security of the Indian Ocean region; it will have air assets and Army troops under a single commander
- The existing tri-services command at Andaman and Nicobar Islands will remain as it is
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