India’s Theatre Command System: A Proposal

Ashwin

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India’s Theatre Command System: A Proposal

Takshashila Discussion Document

By Lt Gen (Dr) Prakash MenonThe author thanks Admiral Arun Prakash, Air Marshal M Matheshwaran,and Lt Gen KT Parnaik for their valuable inputs.


Executive Summary

This discussion document proposes the structural framework for India’s Theatre Command system with the terrain and strategic threats being prime factors. Larger theatre structures facilitate flexible cooperation in greater quantities of military power and concurrent with inter-service integration would cater for centralised joint planning and decentralised application of military power. These aspects shape the structure of the four Theatre Commands proposed. The Northern Theatre Command will be responsible for the land border with China, Myanmar and Bangladesh, the Western Theatre Command for the Pakistan border, the South WesternTheatre Command and the South Eastern Command for the Western partand Eastern partof the Indian Ocean. All Theatres would also be responsible for the hinterland areas based on state boundaries. The existing Chiefs of Staff Committee would be renamed as Joint Commanders and Staff Committee (JCSC) comprising the Chairman-Joint Commanders and Staff Committee (CJCSC),three Chiefs and four Theatre Commanders.The JCSC will formulate military strategy. The operational directives to the Theatre Commands will emanate from JCSC. The Joint Operational staff (JOS) consisting of Component Commanders in the HQ IDS will task the Theatre Commands and provide resources, as required.As a practical guide, the CDS hat is mostly worn during interaction with the political leadership and the civilian bureaucracy while the CJCSC hat is worn within the military structures

Screenshot_2020-06-15 India-Theatre-Command-System-Prakash-Menon-Takshashila pdf(1).png

Screenshot_2020-06-15 India-Theatre-Command-System-Prakash-Menon-Takshashila pdf.png


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randomradio

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I wonder if the Northern Theatre can include Ladakh UT as well, the area under our current operational control. This way the entire Sino-India border is under 1 command, including the LAC. Otoh, the defence of both J&K and Ladakh will end up falling under one command and it will become a two-front obligation for the Western Theatre in case of a two-front war. Right now, the Northern Theatre Command looks more like an Eastern Theatre Command.

And I don't understand why the navy is simply split into two. I'd rather see two commands of a different nature. One would be a single peninsular command in charge of the IOR with its primary task being defensive in nature and the other command would be a global command in charge of actually fighting wars anywhere around the world, including having large scale expeditionary capabilites, and being in charge of CBGs, SSNs, SSBNs etc.
 
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jetray

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primary task being defensive in nature and the other command would be a global command in charge of actually fighting wars anywhere around the world, including having large scale expeditionary capabilites, and being in charge of CBGs, SSNs, SSBNs etc
(y) Its high time we started looking beyond our self imposed boundaries. As our trade grows we should be able to defend our assets. World wide might be a stretch but at-least in known conflict regions like SCS or middle east. Last time ISIS executed Indian laborers all that we could do is ask for others help. We need some form of quick reactionary force which can meet the threat in a 4-5 hr window. We need to consider situations where rogue countries like NK might block ships or detain ppl.
 

Ankit Kumar

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There should be a single Southern Command under Navy. And then that command should have dedicated 3 fleets and 1 flotilla.

Western Fleet or Sword arm to look after Pakistan, Arabian Sea and our interests in Middle East and occasional deployments to Mediterranean and beyond.

Southern Fleet. This fleet should get large numbers of P8I , OPVs to provide a net security to Indian Ocean region and Island nations of Mauritius and Seychelles.

The Eastern Fleet to look after the SSBN fleet , Bay of Bengal and deployments in South East Asia.

A&N Flotilla. This should have enough assets to control the Malacca straits all alone along with amphibians. LHDs if possible.

As of now we have the same division, but the southern fleet is just training fleet and A&N command has extension of Eastern Fleet.
 

randomradio

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There should be a single Southern Command under Navy. And then that command should have dedicated 3 fleets and 1 flotilla.

Western Fleet or Sword arm to look after Pakistan, Arabian Sea and our interests in Middle East and occasional deployments to Mediterranean and beyond.

Southern Fleet. This fleet should get large numbers of P8I , OPVs to provide a net security to Indian Ocean region and Island nations of Mauritius and Seychelles.

The Eastern Fleet to look after the SSBN fleet , Bay of Bengal and deployments in South East Asia.

A&N Flotilla. This should have enough assets to control the Malacca straits all alone along with amphibians. LHDs if possible.

As of now we have the same division, but the southern fleet is just training fleet and A&N command has extension of Eastern Fleet.

All of this can be handled only with 1 fleet actually. The commander can create task forces based on the threat. If dedicated fleets are created, then it will result in infighting.

Look at the USN:


They have 2 fleets playing defence, the 2nd and 3rd. This is what I recommended with just 1 command for the IOR playing defence, the local fleet.

And they have the 7th fleet for the entire Western Pacific and almost the entire IOR. That would become the template for our offensive fleet, the global fleet.

Considering carriers are important even 50 years down the line, we will need to first start off with 3 carriers under the global fleet, with none in the local, by 2040. Then between 2040 and 50-55, we need to add 3 more carriers so both the local and global fleets have 3 carriers each. The local fleet's area of responsibility will be the IOR and the global fleet's will be the Pacific. Eventually the global fleet will have to be split into 2, for maintaining a constant carrier presence in the Atlantic and Pacific, so we will need a total of 8-9 carriers. And 1 carrier each must be forward deployed with permanent basing in the West African coast and the Pacific.

We definitely need the peninsular theatres to create a global presence roadmap.

In the same manner, I bet the Chinese will create a 12 to 15-carrier navy in the long run, with most of that available by 2040. They are expected to have 6 by 2030-35. The first 2 are STOBAR of 70kT displacement. The following 2 are conventional flattops of 85kT. The last 2 are nuke-powered supercarriers, with more on the way. They rely too much on prestige, so they are definitely aiming to match the USN. And the Russians plan on adding their own carriers to the mix in the Pacific, so we are going to have to participate as well.

But with multiple fleets, we won't get the proper force mix since we will end up sending one carrier where it's not needed simply because it was assigned to a different fleet while it was sorely needed elsewhere. But with just a single fleet under a single command, you can send the same carrier or multiple carriers anywhere you want to. Hence, a local fleet and a global fleet with two different responsibilities.
 

randomradio

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(y) Its high time we started looking beyond our self imposed boundaries. As our trade grows we should be able to defend our assets. World wide might be a stretch but at-least in known conflict regions like SCS or middle east. Last time ISIS executed Indian laborers all that we could do is ask for others help. We need some form of quick reactionary force which can meet the threat in a 4-5 hr window. We need to consider situations where rogue countries like NK might block ships or detain ppl.

Yep. We need to lay a proper framework today and then create a long term acquisition plan for new ships and subs. Nothing much is going to happen in the new decade though. Anything we implement today is going to take more than a decade to bear fruit.
 

Ashwin

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And I don't understand why the navy is simply split into two
Please go through the paper for the rationale behind the division of commands. Mostly the same logic why you said about dividing between sino centric and pakistan.

Even in today's IN deployment, you can see that. SSN/SSBNs in the east and SSKs west. Vikramaditya for pakistan and more modern VIrkant in the east.


Screenshot_2020-06-16 India-Theatre-Command-System-Prakash-Menon-Takshashila pdf.png
 
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Ashwin

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There should be a single Southern Command under Navy. And then that command should have dedicated 3 fleets and 1 flotilla.

Western Fleet or Sword arm to look after Pakistan, Arabian Sea and our interests in Middle East and occasional deployments to Mediterranean and beyond.

Southern Fleet. This fleet should get large numbers of P8I , OPVs to provide a net security to Indian Ocean region and Island nations of Mauritius and Seychelles.

The Eastern Fleet to look after the SSBN fleet , Bay of Bengal and deployments in South East Asia.

A&N Flotilla. This should have enough assets to control the Malacca straits all alone along with amphibians. LHDs if possible.

As of now we have the same division, but the southern fleet is just training fleet and A&N command has extension of Eastern Fleet.
It's good to have these lofty ambitions but first, we will have to secure IOR, Which is our primary area of responsibility. Outside of it can be managed with partner nations but we should be able to command control of the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Ocean should be (undisputably) India's Ocean.
 

randomradio

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Please go through the paper for the rationale behind the division of commands. Mostly the same logic why you said about dividing between sino centric and pakistan.

Even in today's IN deployment, you can see that. SSN/SSBNs in the east and SSKs west. Vikramaditya for pakistan and more modern VIrkant in the east.


View attachment 16463

What he said there is what I actually challenged. Just one command can handle the peninsula, it's not that large. And the main fleet (global fleet) needs to concentrate on the external threats entirely.

When you have just 1 fleet, the commander will have the ability to send forces wherever needed, even reassign ships midway. For example, in a two-front war, once the PN is taken out, most of the South Western Theatre's fleet will then have to be moved to the South Eastern Theatre, which will create nuisance due to both having two different chains of command. Even if completely assigned to the new command, it's not going to be a smooth process. There will be ridiculous bureaucratic hurdles, both military and civilian, during the process. During war, nothing should be in the hands of bureaucracy, both military and civilian. There is always that one secretary who will say something can't be done because the paperwork is not complete, always.
 

Ashwin

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What he said there is what I actually challenged. Just one command can handle the peninsula, it's not that large. And the main fleet (global fleet) needs to concentrate on the external threats entirely.
Navy is not handling the peninsula alone but the entire ocean. The nature of the threat from both sides is different. Securing SLOC comes first.

When you have just 1 fleet, the commander will have the ability to send forces wherever needed, even reassign ships midway. For example, in a two-front war, once the PN is taken out, most of the South Western Theatre's fleet will then have to be moved to the South Eastern Theatre, which will create nuisance due to both having two different chains of command. Even if completely assigned to the new command, it's not going to be a smooth process. There will be ridiculous bureaucratic hurdles, both military and civilian, during the process. During war, nothing should be in the hands of bureaucracy, both military and civilian. There is always that one secretary who will say something can't be done because the paperwork is not complete, always.
This is only true in today's command structure. Joint commands take the call on the reallocation of resources based on threats.

The same logic applies to land. If 'Pakistan is taken out' resources can be moved to east.
 

randomradio

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Navy is not handling the peninsula alone but the entire ocean. The nature of the threat from both sides is different. Securing SLOC comes first.

But he's talking about the peninsula.

This is only true in today's command structure. Joint commands take the call on the reallocation of resources based on threats.

The same logic applies to land. If 'Pakistan is taken out' resources can be moved to east.

Reallocation takes a long time, it's not an overnight thing.