The armed forces are, reportedly, keen to move forward with a long-overdue military recast. On Tuesday, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat chaired a meeting with the Vice Chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, along with representatives of the Ministries of Home and Finance, National Security Council, Integrated Defence Staff and Department of Defence among others.
The meeting was, reportedly, organised to deliberate upon the creation of four proposed integrated theatre commands by the end of the year.
The appointment of Gen Bipin Rawat as India’s first-ever Chief of Defence Staff in December 2019 represented the first step towards reorganising India’s armed forces to enhance coordination between the three services. The CDS’ primary responsibility is to act as the principal point of contact between the tri-services and executive leadership of the country.
What are integrated theatre commands?
Essentially, an integrated theatre command enables the pooling of resources of all three services under a single commander, towards securing a particular geographical area. A military commander in charge of a joint command will have the resources of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force at his/her disposal in the face of a national security threat. The commander can also carry out joint training while benefitting from the logistics of all three services.
Currently, India only has two tri-service commands. The first of these, known as the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), was created in 2001 and is led by service chiefs on a rotational basis. The second is a functional command (not overseeing a particular geographical location) called the Strategic Forces Command established in 2006.
The current structure of the armed forces includes 17 different commands, seven each belonging to the Army and the Air Force, and three headed by the Navy. Under the Army, the commands are the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, Central, Southwestern, Central and Maintenance and Training.