There is a systemic military recast on the cards for the first time in India since 1947. For better coordination of the armed services, the Indian military is setting up five integrated theatre commands by 2022 with well-defined areas of operation.
With the appointment of the Gen Bipin Rawat as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on December 30, 2019, the first step towards this transformation was taken, which many consider long overdue. Gen Rawat is working on redesigning existing military commands into theatre commands and establishing new joint commands that will combine the resources and assets of the three defence forces, based on threats at India’s borders.
What are the five integrated theatre commands?
As per the proposals, the Northern Command’s range will begin from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh and continue up to the last outpost, Kibithu, in Arunachal Pradesh, with the military mandate of guarding the 3,488 km of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
The Western Command will be entrusted from Indira Col on Saltoro Ridge in the Siachen Glacier region to the tip of Gujarat. The Western and Eastern Command of the Indian Navy will be merged into the Peninsular Command, the fourth will be a full-fledged Air Defence Command and the fifth, a Maritime Command.
The Air Defence Command will spearhead the country’s aerial attack and be responsible for defending Indian airspace through multi-role fighters with all anti-aircraft missiles under its control while India’s Maritime Command could include what is currently the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Islands Command.
It will be tasked to protect the Indian Ocean and India’s island territories as well as keep the sea lanes free and open from any outside pressure.