When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort this August 15, a big announcement on restructuring India’s defence forces is likely.
Top sources, in the know of things, say that two theatre commands — the Maritime Command and the Air Defence Command — will be operational by August 15.
The Air Defence Command will be based out of Allahabad and will control air assets of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Army and Navy. It will be responsible for protecting military assets from airborne enemies and will be commanded by a three-star officer of the IAF.
The Maritime Command will be based out of Karwar and will be responsible for the security of the Indian Ocean region. It will be commanded by a three-star officer of the Indian Navy.
Apart from these two theatre commands, India will get three or four integrated commands to secure the Pakistan and China fronts. Sources said there could be two theatre commands on the China front which in turn will report to a higher command.
On the Pakistan front, there will be one theatre command for Jammu and Kashmir which will include the Line of Control and the International Border.
Theatre Commands are a long delayed step in reorganising India’s military and bringing jointness in the three services to increase efficiency. Essentially it is a compact unit that will control all military assets in a theatre of war and report to a single commander. General Bipin Rawat, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, is mandated with wrapping up the project by the end of 2022.
Thirty-two countries around the world including the US and China have structures similar to theatre commands. China has reorganised itself into give theatre commands. Its Western Theatre Command is responsible for the border with India. India on the other hand has 17 commands between the Army, Navy and Air Force with complex geographical overlaps. Seven come into play if a conflict with China breaks out.