Why in News:
- Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat chaired a meeting on theatre commands.
What is a theatre command?
- A theatre command is an organisational structure that is responsible for commanding all military assets in a theatre of battle in order to achieve military objectives.
- In military jargon, a combined command is referred to as a “theatre command/integrated theater command” (of army, air force and navy). It places a senior military commander in charge of all forces’ resources.
- In the simplest words, it is a unified command under which all the resources of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are pooled, depending on the threat perception.
- The commands could be geographical — like looking at a border with a particular country — or thematic, like a command for all maritime threats.
- Several nations in the world have theatre commands, including the United States and China.
- At present, the only integrated theater command is the Andaman and Nicobar Command
Outcome of the meeting
- Deliberations are continuing for a consensus on the creation of the military’s integrated theatre commands, while the four proposed commands are likely to be raised by year-end.
- The four commands planned are air defence command, maritime theatre command, integrated eastern theatre command and integrated western theatre command.
The proposed commands are:
- A Maritime Theatre Command, which will take care of all the maritime security needs of the country on both the eastern and the western seaboards, and will include air strike assets and amphibian forces of the Army.
- An Air Defence Command, which will be mandated with air defence across the country and beyond. The fighter jets will have reconnaissance and surveillance assets as well.
- Two or three land-based commands are proposed. If there are two commands, there will be one each for India’s borders with China and Pakistan.
- There is also a proposal to have another command looking at India’s borders with Pakistan and China in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, given the unique territory and security needs of the country in that region.
- In 2020, General Rawat had stated that apart from these theatre commands, there will be two functional tri-Services commands as well.
- There will be a Logistics Command, which will have the logistics of all the Services under one person; and there will be a Training and Doctrine Command, so that all Services work under a common doctrine and have some basic common training.
- As of now, the Services have to speak to each other in times of need and urgency to request their assets to conduct a particular operation.
- The proposal is to have a theatre commander who will have operational control of the assets under his command, thus enhancing jointness among the forces, and also reducing duplication of resources.
- However, this would leave the Service chiefs with no direct control over their assets operationally. This does not mean their roles will be made redundant. Now the Services will have the core tasks to Raise, Train and Sustain their respective forces.
- Enables the coordination of resources from all three services under the command of a single commander in order to secure a specific geographic area.
- In the event of a national security threat, a military commander in charge of a joint command will have the Army, Navy, and Air Force resources at his disposal.
- The commander can also conduct joint training while taking use of the three services’ logistics.
- Given that India possesses the world’s fourth-largest military and each service operates independently of the others, the establishment of integrated theatre commands is a must.
- The Shekatkar Committee advocated the establishment of three integrated theatre commands: western for the Pakistan border, northern for the China border, and southern for sea operations. The Kargil Review Committee, which was established after the Kargil War ended in 1999, also proposed the formation of unified theatre commanders.
- Structure of command: Within the tri-services and joint theatre command configurations, who will report to whom and who will have operational command over personnel and machinery, service chiefs or theatre commanders, is a question that needs to be considered.
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) is short on resources when it comes to the number of squadrons it possesses. This would make it difficult for the IAF to station assets in a command with territorial limits on a permanent basis.
- Inter-services competition: Each service is aggressively guarding its own assets and vying for a larger part of the defence budget and influence; this could prove to be a stumbling block in the creation of new services.
- Lack of experience in integrated theatre commands
Existing Tri-Service Commands
- There are two existing tri-Service commands — the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), which is headed by rotation by officers from the three Services, and the Strategic Force Command, which is responsible for India’s nuclear assets.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is the first integrated theatre command in India with headquarters at Port Blair.
- Strategic Force Command is considered to be an integrated functional command and not an integrated theatre command since it has no specific geographic responsibility and a designated role.
- Hence, a tri-service command need not be an Integrated Theatre Command always
To know about the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC)- https://officerspulse.com/andaman-nicobar-theatre-command/