Theatre commands vital but process will take time, may need mid course corrections: Army Chief

The creation of integrated theatre commands is the next logical step in defence reforms but the process could take a number of years as every aspect has to be well considered and deliberated, army chief Gen MM Naravane has said in rare public comments on the future structure of the armed forces.

While describing the creation of new theatre commands as the “next logical step” after the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff, the army chief cautioned that “mid course corrections” might be required and there is a need for everyone to work together keeping national security interests as paramount.

The army chief visited the College of Defence Management (CDM) and made the comments during an interaction with officers of the prestigious Higher Defence Management Course. The comments come at a time when the first theatre command is in the final stages of conceptualisation – the integrated air defence command for all three forces. Other joint structures are in the works, including a maritime command and geographically located commands along the border.

“During the course of the interaction, he spoke about the current security scenario and focused on the geo-strategic implications on capability development and force utilisation of the Indian Army in pursuit of national interests,” an official release on the army chief’s interaction said.

Speaking on the appointment of a CDS and the creation of a Department of Military Affairs (DMA), Gen Naravane said that it was a
“momentous” decision and that the services needed to “demonstrate great wisdom and statesmanship in enabling the CDS, a long standing demand of the armed forces”.

The army chief said that the next step would be the “formation of Integrated Theatre Commands to synergise the capabilities and combat potential of the three services during war and peace”, cautioning that the process will be “deliberate, thoughtful and well considered” and will take a “number of years” to fructify.

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