India to set up separate theatre command for JK: CDS Rawat
India will have two to five theatre commands to deal with future security challenges along the western and northern borders and the first such structure is set to be made functional by 2022, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said on Monday, rolling out plans for big ticket military reforms.
The chief of defence staff said security challenges in Jammu and Kashmir will be handled by a dedicated theatre command in a major revamp of existing structures.
Gen Rawat, talking to a group of journalists, said a new approach of staggered procurement of major military platforms like 114 fighter jets is being firmed up to address the problem of obsolescence.
The government appointed Gen Rawat as CDS on December 31 to bring in convergence among the three services and restructure military commands to effectively deal with future security challenges.
The chief of defence staff said the proposed peninsula command, to be formed by merging the Indian Navy’s eastern and western commands, is likely to take shape by end of 2021.
The tri-services command under a naval commander will have air assets as well as support of the Army, and it will take care of entire responsibility of maritime security challenge in the Indian Ocean Region.
“The security of Indian Ocean region has to be dealt with by one commander and he will not be required to get approval from Delhi for operational matters including movement of ships,” said Gen. Rawat.
He said the proposed air defence command is likely to be rolled out by middle of next year and certain air assets like missiles of the Indian Army and the Navy will be part of it.
The chief of defence staff also said that government plans to have a separate training and doctrinal command modelled on similar structure in the US, while a separate command will be set up to take care of logistical requirements of the three services.
He said a team headed by Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force is conducting a study to set up the air defence command and it has been told to complete the study by March 31.
“Then orders will be issued for implementation of the study. We should have the shape of the air defence command by first half of next year,” Gen Rawat said.
On the peninsula command, he said it should be rolled out by the end of next year.
About the theatre commands each of which will have responsibility specific areas of operation, Gen Rawat said the aim is to make India’s first theatre command by 2022.
“We are planning to have a separate theatre command for Jammu and Kashmir which will including the IB (International Boundary) portion,” said Gen Rawat.
Each of the theatre commands will have units of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and all of them will work as a single entity looking after security challenges in a specified geographical territory under an operational commander.
At present, the Army, Navy and the Air Force have separate commands.
The CDS has a key role in ensuring optimum utilisation of allocated budget, ushering in more synergy in procurement, training and operations of the services through joint planning and integration.
The other major mandate of the CDS is to facilitate indigenisation of weapons and equipment to the maximum extent possible while formulating the overall defence acquisition plan for the three services.
Gen Rawat said the newly created Department of Military Affairs will handle revenue procurement while the capital procurement will continue to be looked after by the defence secretary.