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India begins theaterisation of military, unified commands will take 2-3 years to create

Services have been told to dual-task commander-in-chief rank officers to work on structures of 4 identified theatres — 2 led by Army, 1 each by Air Force & Navy.

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New Delhi: India has kickstarted the process for the theaterisation of its military, which will see multiple unified commands being created over the next “two-three years” to fight battles in the future, top government sources said Wednesday.

Under the process of theaterisation, the current 17 individual commands of the three services will be brought under four or five joint commands, which will focus on specific borders and roles.

Sources said the three services have been asked to “dual-task” one commander-in-chief rank officer for working on the structures of the four theatres that have been identified two led by the Army, and one each by the Air Force and the Navy.

The sources said that the Army’s South Western Commander, Lieutenant General Amardeep Singh Bhinder, has already been dual-tasked to work out the structures of the Western Theatre Command, which will be based in Jaipur and will look after the border with Pakistan.

Similarly, the Air Force and the Navy have also been instructed to nominate one C-in-C rank officer to work on the structures of the Maritime Theatre Command and the Air Command.

“The officers will be dual-tasked and will not be designated as theatre commanders. This is part of the progressive transformation, so that there is no operational vacuum created in the near future. This means that in case of any security development, the officers can easily go back to doing what they are currently doing,” a source explained.

The source added that once the structures are in place, they would be studied and further clearances would be taken from the government, following which, the raising of the unified commands will start.

“The theaterisation process will take anywhere between two to three years,” the source said. “It is a misnomer that theaterisation would start immediately. There are a number of things that have to be kept in mind. The structures have to be formed first and then the raising happens.”

The initial target for the rollout of the theatre concept was 2022, but there have been multiple inputs that it could happen earlier. However, ThePrint had, on 17 June, reported that theaterisation could get delayed since stakeholders were yet to be on the same page.

Also read: China appoints Gen Wang Haijiang as new army commander to lead troops along Indian border

‘There will be winners and losers’

Asked about the differences among the three services over the proposed theaterisation plans, the source said whenever changes are brought in, “there will be winners and losers”.

While the military assets would get divided between the theatres, allocation can be moved through the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, headed by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a source explained.

The source said once the theatre commands come into action in about three years, they will first take over the operational role of the 17 individual commands of the three services.

The current C-in-Cs will continue to look after other duties and the theatre commands will take over as and when each process stabilises.

Sources said the Northern Command of the Army, which looks after both the Line of Control with Pakistan and the Line of Actual Control with China, is not being touched as of now.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Army, Navy, IAF sign deals for swarm, kamikaze drones amid govt push for new tech warfare


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