By the end of 2021, a common peninsular command is expected to start taking shape and thereafter theatre commands by 2022. Outlining his military vision for the Indian Army in the new decade, India's first Chief of Defence Gen Bipin Rawat has said that "Indian Army's Western and Northern Commands will be converted into 2-5 theatres and Jammu and Kashmir will be a separate theatre." While terming the Indian Ocean as one entity, he said "The Eastern and Western Naval commands are integrated and named Peninsular Command which is expected to include Sir Creek area in west and Sunderbans in the east. The directives for Perimeter Command will be issued by March 31."
"And for this, the Chief of Naval Staff has to look at the big picture and at maritime diplomacy which has assumed greater importance," Rawat told the media persons on Monday. Though the process of identifying what all will be included in the study, the new CDS has said that by the end of next year there will be a command in place. And based on the recommendations of the study, some of the assets of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) would be under the Peninsula commander.
Headed by the Vice Chief of the IAF a study is already underway for setting up an integrated Air Defence command. Expected to be completed by March-end, the orders for implementing would be then issued. And it will take at least a year for re-location and streamlining.
As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online, the charter which was released when the CDS position was announced included the formation of theatre commands. Responding to a query related to the formation of the commands, according to Rawat, "By year-end study instructions will be issued for other joint commands or theatres. And it will be completed in three months." Adding, "By 2021 the study will be completed and directives will be given. And theatreisation to be started by 2022."
What is Theatreisation?
Specific units of personnel from the three services including the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, all under a common theatre commander. They will fight as a cohesive unit, something similar to the US and China.
The plan is to have 2-5 theatres, however, final recommendations are expected to be made by the study teams. The Indian Army will have other two commands — 'Doctrine and Training' and Logistics.
Explaining it further, Rawat said that since on the North, India has a contiguous border with a break in Nepal, that area could have one or two theatre commands. And on the Western front, including the International Boundary, Jammu and Kashmir should be a separate theatre. And the balance of the Western theatre could be another command."
How many commands are there?
In the country today there are around 19 military commands. And out of these only two are tri-service commands-Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) and the Strategic Forces Command, which looks after nuclear assets.
India's first tri-service command-ANC will remain as is as the requirements of the Peninsular Command are different.
Joint Air Defence Command
The formation of this will start next year onwards and will take almost a whole year to complete. And in this command besides the Coastal Air Defence, other air defence assets, including the long-range surface-to-air missiles will all be under one umbrella of this command.