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Looking to create air defence, logistics and peninsula theatre commands: CDS

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat (C) with Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane (R) and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar during a meeting at South Block, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): The armed forces are likely to collaborate and create an 'air defence command' to cover all aerial operations taking place in the Indian airspace, a 'peninsula command' to look after all naval operations in the closer Indian Ocean region, and a 'logistics command', said India's first chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday.

Commanders of such theatres would be reporting to their respective service chiefs initially, Rawat told reporters, adding that no decision has been taken on how many joint commands would be created on the Indo-Chinese border.

"In order to become the armed forces of the Union, we need to start working on some of the aspects where we think immediate integration can happen. There, we find that air defence is one area, which according to me, is a low hanging fruit and can happen in a time-bound manner," the CDS stated.

The responsibility of the management of the airspace is that of the Air Force, therefore, the security and safety of the airspace must rest with that one service, he explained.

"We feel that all the assets which are there must integrate under one service so that command and control issues can be simplified," he said.

In a landmark decision, the government on December 24 last year approved the creation of a CDS in the rank of a four-star general who acts as the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters relating to the tri-services.

The government also decided to create a new Department of Military Affairs (DMA) under the Defence Ministry, which is headed by the CDS as its secretary.

Rawat said that in the DMA, total six joint secretaries - four from the armed forces and two from the civil services - are working.

He said there should be an integrated logistics command.

"There is a great scope of logistics issues being integrated," the CDS said.

Giving the example of medical resources, Rawat said among all three services, surpluses and deficiencies need to be better managed so that the doctors are neither overworked nor underutilised.

Rawat also said there is a need for a peninsula command, which would be with the Navy.

"Our thought process is that let us go with the peninsula command. Currently there is East and West command in Navy over Indian Ocean," he said.

"If you look at the Navy Chief, these two commands are just one of his charters. Look at his charter, he is looking at the entire Indian Ocean region. He is looking from east coast of Africa to right down to Australia. So, he has got a bigger picture to look at," Rawat explained.

Therefore, with the creation of the peninsula command, the Navy Chief can disinvest himself from the closer Indian Ocean region and look at the bigger picture, Rawat added.

When asked if he has finalised which theatre commands would be finally created, he said, "I am final in my mind... I would like to discuss this with the three service chiefs before I give out what is on my mind. They may be better than me. They may be having better ideas."

Rawat added that for the "northern borders" - which means India's border with China - no decision has been taken as yet on how many theatres would be created.

"Some thoughts have been exchanged with the service chiefs regarding this matter," he added.

The CDS stated that initially, the theatre commanders would be reporting to their respective service chiefs.

"Once we are done with our cross staffing, initially the theatre commanders will have to be assigned with the regular theatre with the chiefs taking over," Rawat told the reporters.

When asked if it will become too complex as there will be one more layer with the theatre commanders reporting to the service chiefs, he said, "This is a transformational phase... Initially, you see, you don't want to mess up the thing while going for the transformation as you don't know when things will turn ugly."

"And at that time, we don't want people saying 'I don't know about this'. You have to keep this overlap for a while because in our case we don't know when this requirement may come up of when you have to engage."

So, when one doesn't know when the requirement may come, it is better to have those systems, the CDS added.

On the question about the time frame he has in his mind to create these theatre commands, the CDS said, "I have been given three years...for the creation of these theatres."


India  CDS  Defence  Armed Forces  Rawat  

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