High-level committee formed for consultations on theatre commands


A high-level committee consisting of representatives from the services and the Ministries concerned has been formed for wider consultations on the creation of integrated triservice theatre commands, defence officials said.

The panel includes the Vice Chiefs of the three services, the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, and representatives Ministries such as Home Affairs, Finance and Law.

The decision was taken at a meeting last week after several issues were brought out which concerns other Ministries, a defence official said. The committee will examine all issues and find a way forward before a formal note on their creation is sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security.

The official said the move was necessitated due to some aspects like bringing in paramilitary forces, which are under the Home Ministry, under the purview of the theatre commands and financial implications that may arise in the process of integration.

The creation of theatre commands is now a given with directives at the highest level, the issue is about fine-tuning the proposals and forming a consensus on how they should be, another defence official explained.

The mandate of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) includes bringing about jointness among the three services, including through the establishment of joint/theatre commands. The country’s first CDS Gen. Bipin Rawat had constituted teams headed by the Vice Chiefs of three services to study and submit recommendations on the formation of various commands.

He recently stated that the study reports on the two proposed commands — air defence and maritime theatre — are being deliberated upon and would be rolled out by August. However, with differences still to be resolved. there could be some delay.

The proposed Air Defence Command plans to integrate all air assets of the armed forces while the Maritime Theatre Command plans to bring in all assets of Navy, Coast Guard as well as coastal formations of Army and Air Force under one umbrella. On land, the Army’s Northern command and Western Command would be converted into 2-5 theatre commands, Gen. Rawat had stated.

Last October, Army Chief Gen. Manoj Naravane said the next step in higher defence reforms after the appointment of the CDS was the formation of integrated theatre commands and the process would be “deliberate, thoughtful and well considered”.

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