Theaterisation will overcome hurdles: Rawat
As the government sharpens it focus on laying the groundwork for theatre commands in the backdrop of internal resistance, chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday said the new reforms do face some hurdles, but that the three services were in agreement on taking theaterisation forward.
“These hurdles are also necessary as they make us realise that more discussions are required (to iron out the details of the plan). We are taking the theaterisation plan forward with more discussions,” Rawat told India Today TV.
He said the processes for the creation of theatre commands were progressing in line with the prescribed timelines for bringing about jointness among the three services.
The government expects Rawat, who took charge as India’s first CDS on January 1, 2020, to bring about so-called jointness among the three services in a three-year time frame (by January 2023). One of the means to achieve jointness is the setting up of integrated theatre commands for the best use of military resources to fight future battles.
The CDS’s comments came a day after HT reported that while the army and navy were in favour of theatre commands, the air force had issues over division of its air assets, nomenclature of commands, leadership of theatre commands and dilution of powers of the service chiefs.
Rawat said the armed forces , after several rounds of discussions , have done a lot of work on what kind of joint structures should be set up. “If we operate together and utilise the strengths of the three services, the synergised effort will not be the sum of three; but 1+1+1 (the three services) will equal 111,” he said.
Experts highlighted the need for all stakeholders to cooperate to take theaterisation forward.
“There was no consensus on the appointment of CDS for 20 years. Ultimately, the government had to take a decision. Similarly, when it comes to theaterisation, it is for India’s defence and security. No service should feel that they will have an upper hand or become subordinate to another service. We should all be mature enough to take India’s long-term interests into account,” said Lieutenant General DB Shekatkar (retd).
On Tuesday, Rawat held a meeting with the vice chiefs of the three services and senior officials from the defence, finance and home ministries to discuss all aspects related to setting up theatre commands before the proposal is sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for approval, officials familiar with the developments said.
A lack of consensus on the military’s theaterisation model emerged earlier this month during a key meeting of top government officials who reviewed a draft cabinet note on the new joint structures. This led to the government setting up an expert committee last week to carry out consultations on the long-awaited military reform.
Theaterisation refers to placing specific units of the army, the navy and the air force under a theatre commander. Such commands are to be led by an officer from any of the three services, depending on the roles assigned to them. Most significant military powers including the US have moved to theatre commands which synergise the working of the three services.