‘Discussions on theatre commands making good progress’: Rajnath Singh
Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said discussions on the creation of joint commands and their implementation were progressing well and fast, indicating that differences between stakeholders on the theaterisation model are being addressed and India is on course to set up theatre commands.
“With the creation of theatre commands, the Indian armed forces will have to develop integrated operational concepts and doctrine for joint war-fighting,” Singh said. His comments came during a talk on Defence Reforms in Shifting National Security Paradigm at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, Tamil Nadu.
Last month, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria flagged concerns about the theaterisation model, arguing that it was critical to first get the structure right, even as chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat gave out details of the plan to achieve jointness and brushed aside the reservations.
In June, the government formed an eight-member panel under Rawat to fine-tune the theaterisation plans and bring all stakeholders on board, especially the IAF, for a speedy roll-out of new joint structures.
Singh said the creation of the post of CDS and the department of military affairs was an important step to start defence reforms. “These steps have given the necessary direction for further changes and provided a system of coordination under which we are continuously taking our efforts forward,” Singh said.
The armed forces currently have 17 single-service commands spread across the country. The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have seven commands each, while the Indian Navy has three. Creating theatres would involve merging the existing commands (except the Udhampur-based Northern Command).
The defence minister also talked about the challenges posed by the situation in Afghanistan, which had driven all countries to rethink their strategy. “The QUAD (a group consisting of India, the US, Australia and Japan) has been constituted keeping these things in mind,” he said.
Last week, the CDS said India was concerned about terrorist activity in Afghanistan spilling over into the country after the Taliban takeover and contingency plans were in place to deal with the scenario.
The defence minister also touched on the border row with China in the Ladakh sector. He said a unilateral attempt was made to change the status-quo on the border last year, but India faced its adversary with a new dynamism rather than the old response.
The two countries are currently in talks to reduce border tensions by disengaging front-line troops from all flashpoints along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC). Disengagement has been completed in the Pangong Tso sector and Gogra or Patrol Point-17A. However, problems at Hot Springs and Depsang are yet to be resolved.