Theatre Command of Indian Defence (Pros (Speedy decision making (19…
Theatre Command of Indian Defence
the idea of forming three integrated military Theatre Commands, covering the Northern, Eastern and Southern territory, that would subsume all operational functions of the existing 19 predominantly single-service commands in their respective geographical areas.
Under theatre commands like the ones which exist in the US, all the forces working in a geographical area are put under a theatre command which can be headed by one officer from any of the three services.
The integrated theatre commander will not be answerable to individual Services, and will be free to train, equip and exercise his command to make it a cohesive fighting force capable of achieving designated goals.
Speedy decision making
19 different commands in India
are neither co-located nor co-purposed.
Since speed in
decision-making, allocation of resources and flexible operations
would be the essence in modern war, it is important that there should be only two commanders, one for each joint command theatre, instead of the present 19.
An example given is of the Chinese military which has created theatre commands.
Brings in greater jointness
The armed forces need to move away from a service specific approach to operations towards a system which
avoids duplication, ensures optimum utilisation of available resources, brings in greater jointness.
timely and mature decisions
to developing situations and
ensures flawless execution of orders
to achieve success in battle.
Major military powers like the
US and China
, who are serious about their war fighting capabilities, operate via theatre commands as it is seen to be
a better means of pooling resources and improving efficiency
restructured its military in
to come up with
six theatre commands
America’s theatres the Unified Combatant Commands are global in scope
Today’s military challenges cannot be tackled without a real integration up to the command level
Modern potential conflict with a major military power like China might extend well
beyond the typical theatres
into the domains of
cyber, space, nuclear and covert capabilities
. A more integrated response will be needed from the Indian armed forces.
The pressures for increasing jointness in the Indian military, like other militaries, are because of not only the need for enhanced efficiency in the use of resources but also due to the need for
optimising military performance in joint operations
large increase in expenditure with doubtful returns
India is still lagging behind in modernization of defence forces so formation of a Theatre Command at this juncture would not be in the best interest of the nation
By adding another layer in the form of joint theatre commander, there would be three operational commanders leading to further operational chaos
While India would undertake hostilities on its western border, it would inevitably get sucked into a two-front war (non-contact with China and a partial contact war with Pakistan) scenario.
The IAF feels that it doesn’t have enough resources fighter squadrons, mid-air refuellers and AWACS to allocate them dedicatedly to different theatre commanders.
Given this, the IAF aircraft and other support assets would need the Air Force Headquarters, rather than the two joint theatre commanders, for fighting the war.
fears about the smaller Services losing their autonomy and importance.
Defence experts feel that the recent Air Force war game Exercise Gaganshakti showcased that its assets can shift from one theatre to the other within no time and putting them under a dedicated theatre would not be of much use in a country with limited resources
A precursor to the creation of integrated theatre commands has to be the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff or Permanent Chairman, COSC. This was first proposed by the GoM in 2001, but hasn’t been implemented so far.
Experience from the US, Russia and China shows that the decision to create integrated theatre commands will have to be a political one, which will then be executed by the defence services.