General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in a recent interview to a magazine stated, “We’ve been able to get all the services on board on the issue of integration. It has dawned on everyone that to be combat- effective, unless we operate together, we won’t be able to apply our combat power the way we should.” He added that “synergising activities, whether it’s training, logistics or maintenance, and even foreign cooperation, are being looked at in an integrated manner.”
On creation of theatre commands, General Rawat stated, “By 2022, we will have structures in place and the rollout will start. I expect air defence to roll out faster. The maritime command will follow next, by 2021, and by 2022, we will at least start the rollout of land-based theatre commands. It will take time to stabilise, but we are confident the process will begin.” While other commands have yet to take shape, the announcement of raising the maritime command has come under debate.
As per reports, the Maritime Theatre Command (MTC), to be based at Karwar, would comprise of the current Western and Eastern naval fleets, maritime strike fighter jets and transport aircraft from both the air force and navy, amphibious infantry brigades and other assets under the Andaman and Nicobar Command.
The HQ of the MTC would consist of members of all the three services from within their current structures. Organizations which would be merged or closed once the MTC is operational have yet to be announced.
Many strategic analysts have pointed to flaws in the formation of the command and its subsequent command and control mechanism. Nitin Pai, director of the Takshashila Institution states, “Ideally, the entire picture — all the commands, their roles and their relationship to the defence minister, CDS, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and three Services — should be announced so that the design can be understood and discussed by a wider body of analysts within and outside the government.”
Sandeep Unnithan writing for India Today, in an article on 1 December, quotes a former naval C-in-C who did not want to be named as saying that it was a regressive proposal and, “it will destroy the Navy as an independent service.”