Armed Forces Give Shape to Contours of Theatre Plans

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The Armed Forces are drawing up the final contours of theaterisation plans which seek to integrate the Army, Navy, and Indian Air Force and their resources into specific theatre commands, two top government officials familiar with the matter have told The Indian Express.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan

While the initial plan was to create four theatre commands — an air defence command, a maritime theatre command and two land-based theatre commands (one each for the western and the eastern sectors) – the services decided to take a fresh relook on the proposed reform after the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan asked them to do so, considering the IAF’s objections to the previous plan.One of the top proposals being considered is to create joint theatre commands based on India’s adversaries in the neighbourhood to begin with, as against the four defined theatre commands planned earlier.This involves initially carving out an integrated theatre command to take care of the northern and eastern borders with China, another for the western borders with Pakistan and a third maritime command to tackle threats in the maritime domain, from the 17 service-specific military commands operating under the three services at present. Visakhapatnam, Jaipur and Lucknow are among the possible locations being discussed for their headquarters.Also under discussion is the creation of a joint training command. Three joint logistics nodes had already been operationalised until 2021. India has two joint services commands at present – the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) and the Strategic Forces Command (SFCAn official said efforts are on to ensure that the process of creating the theatre commands does not have a long “settling period” given that there’s alway the possibility of a conflict on the horizon.The previous plan had envisaged keeping out the Army’s Northern Command and the IAF’s Air Officer Commanding Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh from the theatre commands and these were to operate independently.The IAF had raised objections to the previous theaterisation plans – these were spearheaded by the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat – and stated that it would divide their fighting assets.

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