Considering that the idea of theaterisation and integration of Indian Armed Forces that found favour almost two decades back continues to linger without concretisation is disconcerting.
While achieving political consensus may be blamed for initial delays, its current inertia is to be squarely blamed on lack of conceptual clarity amongst the senior military leadership where long-embedded instincts of protecting turf are still being peddled under the garb of ill-founded or outdated military jargon. Here is an attempt to bring to focus the key concepts that must drive the process of integration and theaterisation.
Levels Of Management Of War
Against common understanding of wars being managed and conducted at just two levels—strategic and tactical—professional business of managing war is at six levels. National Strategic Level, Military Strategic Level, Theatre Strategic Level; Theatre Operational Level, Operational-Tactical (Op-Tac) Level and Tactical Level.
National Strategic is the apex political level where political aim(s) of war along with restraints & constraints are enunciated. In Indian context, the CCS duly assisted by NSC (NSAB & SPG included) deal with this level. Military Strategic is the level that deals with deciding overall military objectives to be achieved to deliver the political aim(s) of war.
These include military objectives to be achieved in each strategic theatre as well as theatre independent strategic objectives, as relevant. Theatre Strategic Level is concerned with addressing the whole of a military adversary within defined geographical boundaries; planning, organising and sequencing of operations for more than one military campaigns, to achieve multiple assigned military objectives.
Theatre of Operations forms part of overall Strategic Theatre, its expanse confined by geographical constraints and size & nature of employable forces. This level is concerned with planning, organising and sequencing of operations for one military campaign to achieve one operational objective. Achievement of objectives in adjacent & contiguous operational theatres, collectively enable achieving of objectives of the Strategic Theatre.
Operations at this level, referred to as ‘Operational Zones’, are conducted by a Corps sized force or by a CBG. Op-Tac level deals with operations along a single thrust line and axis of maintenance, normally referred as ‘sectors’ and conducted by a divisional size force (or by IBGs or in maritime domain by a CGTF) which are part of Corps or CBG.