From his headquarters near the picturesque Binaga Bay in Karwar, Karnataka, the commander-in-chief (C-in-C) of India’s first Maritime Theatre Command (MTC) will have an overview of his enormous responsibilities. His ships will not only patrol the country’s 7,516-km-long coastline but also its distant maritime interests astride the world’s most important ocean, stretching as far as the Cape of Good Hope off South Africa and to the southern shores of the Indonesian archipelago.
The creation of the post of maritime theatre commander and a new integrated command, subsuming all operational aspects of the four existing naval commands, are key recommendations of a recent Indian Navy study. The proposed MTC will also include Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets, helicopters and transport aircraft on the Indian peninsula, two Indian Army brigades, comprising around 10,000 soldiers, and, interestingly, all Coast Guard patrol vessels, helicopters and aircraft.
The study, part of a government mandate to reduce India’s 17 single-service commands into five joint commands, and prepared by vice chief of naval staff Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar, will soon be handed over to chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat.
Government officials told india today that the study proposes a model that can be implemented in a short timeframe, nine months to a year, and does not require the creation of additional posts or flag ranks or even office space. It will use existing manpower and resources.