Leadership, asset split key concerns for air force on theaterisation move

By Hindustan times

The setting up of a high-powered government committee to iron out details of the theaterisation plan has turned the spotlight on the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) traditional resistance to the setting up of integrated theatre commands, and the need to bring IAF fully on board for speedy roll-out of new joint structures, people familiar with the developments said on Thursday.

The panel was set up last week after a lack of consensus on the theaterisation model emerged earlier this month during a key meeting of top government officials who reviewed a draft Cabinet note on the new joint structures.

Theaterisation has the full backing of the government, and it expects chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat to bring about jointness among the three services by January 2023.

IAF has been arguing in favour of having only one single theatre as its assets are inadequate for more than one such construct, said one of the persons cited above, on condition of anonymity. Several top IAF officers and former chiefs have backed the one-theatre argument.

Terming a theatre as land-centric or martime-centric essentially “treats airpower as an adjunct rather than a joint partner in war-fighting,” he said.

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