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India’s newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat recently said that India could create upto five theatre commands and the new structures would be in place in the next two years.
What is a command?
A command in military terminology is an organizational unit for which a military commander is responsible.
There are 19 commands in India.
- Army -7
- Air Force – 7
- Navy – 3
- Joint command -2
- South western
- Army Training Command
Air Force commands
- Maintenance command
- Training command
All the 17 commands report to their respective services, and are headed by three-star officers. Though these commands are in the same regions, but they are not located together.
What is a Theatre or Joint command?
- A theatre command is an organizational structure designed to control all military assets in a theatre of war to achieve military effects.
- A joint command is called a ‘theatre command’ in military parlance (of army, air force and navy).
- It is a unified command in which the resources of all the services are unified under a single commander looking at a geographical theatre.
- A single military commander, as per the requirements, will have the resources of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force to manage a security threat.
- The commander of a joint command will have the freedom to train and equip his command as per the objective, and will have logistics of all the services at his beckoning.
- Example – A ‘theatre command’ in the East will integrate components of the IAF and the Army, and also have component of the Navy integrated with it.
- The three services will retain their independent identities as well.
What is the advantage of having a theatre command?
- The leader of a unified command has control over more varied resources, compared to the heads of the commands under the services now.
- For instance, the head of one of the proposed commands, Air Defence Command, will have under him naval and Army resources, too, which can be used as per the threat perception.
- And the officer commanding the Pakistan or China border will have access to the Air Force’s fighter jets and can use them if needed.
The other key advantage is that through such integration, the three forces will be able to avoid duplication of resources.
- The resources available under each service will be available to other services too.
- The Peninsula Command would give the Navy Chief freedom to look at the larger perspective in the entire Indian Ocean Region in which China’s presence is steadily increasing.
- The services will get to know one another better, strengthening cohesion in the defence establishment.
Existing Joint or Theatre commands in India
There are two tri-services commands at the moment.
- Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC)
It is a theatre command, which is headed by the chiefs of the three services in rotation. It was created in 2001 after a Group of Ministers had given a report on national security following the Kargil War.
- Strategic Forces Command
It was established in 2003 and is a functional tri-services command. It is responsible for the management and administration of the country’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile
Has it worked successfully?
Andaman and Nicobar Command is very small command, with limited resources. There has been a demand to revert the control of command permanently to the Navy.
How many theatre commands will be made?
There could be between six to nine commands.
- Separate commands for the China and Pakistan borders
- Separate command for the border in the Jammu and Kashmir region and another command looking at the rest of the western border.
- Logistics Command
- Training and Doctrine Command
- A study for a proposed Air Defence Command has already been initiated and a report on the details of the command is expected by end of March.
- Air Defence Command should start becoming operational by the end of 2020.
- Peninsula Command by the end of 2021.
- Followed by theatre commands-joint commands looking at the land boundaries to begin rolling out by the end of 2022.
Role of CDS
One of CDS Gen.Rawat’s main responsibilities is to ensure synergy and integration among the three services. And one of the main objectives of setting up joint or theatre commands is to ensure the best use of military resources to fight future battles.
China’s People’s Liberation Army has five theatre commands
The US Armed Forces has 11 unified commands, of which seven are geographic and four functional commands.
- Its geographic commands are Africa, Central, European, Indo-Pacific, Northern, Southern and Space.
Functional commands –
- Special Operations