National Security Architecture Reforms & Theatre Commands : Discussions

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CDS doesn't seem to get where he stands. He does not have any operational control. Hope his term passes without more controversies.
 

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The Ministry of Defence has moved to change the pattern for appointing military and civilian officers on important administrative posts at the armed forces headquarters.


A high-level committee has been set up to identify which posts at the administrative level required only employees with military experience.


This is in line with the recommendations of a committee of experts to enhance combat capability and re-balance defence expenditure of the forces. The other aspect studied by the panel was utilisation of civilian employees posted at the armed forces headquarters (AFHQ).

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has okayed setting up of the committee headed by Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (retd). Two other members on the panel are R Chandrashekhar, a former AFHQ cadre officer, and AN Das from the MoD finance wing.


The committee will conduct a study and identify such appointments in the three services that may be within the domain of the AFHQ civilian staff. It will also identify posts at the headquarters where civilian officers had been posted despite the positions requiring only those with strict military field experience.


The panel has been tasked to interact with various branches and directorates of the services’ headquarters of the MoD and the inter-service organisations for undertaking the study and submit a report of its recommendations by the first week of October.


The scope of the study will be to collate data on authorised and actual strength of the AFHQ officers in the respective services.


It will also collect data on brigadier-level officers of the armed forces posted in the administration, finance, policy formulation, coordination, personnel management, training, vigilance, legal wings and land and works.
 

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Next military reforms should be to set up integrated theatre commands, says Army chief




New Delhi: After the “momentous” step of appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the next logical move in military reforms would be to set up integrated theatre commands to synergise the capabilities of the three services during war and peace, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane said on Wednesday.

At the same time, Gen Naravane said the process to set up the theatre commands needed to be deliberate, thoughtful and well-considered , and its fruition will take a number of years .

Speaking at an event at the College of Defence Management in Secunderabad, the chief of the 1.3 million-strong Army said there was a need for everyone to work in a spirit of togetherness and trust with the national security interests being of paramount importance.

He added a note of caution and said that there might be a requirement for mid-course corrections , according to a statement released by the Army here.

The Chief of Army Staff said he was optimistic about the future of integration of the armed forces, which he said was an inevitability as it would lead to tri-services synergy and optimisation of resources.

The comments by Gen Naravane reflected the force’s thinking as well as readiness to support the mega theaterisation plan being undertaken by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat to enhance the combat capabilities of the armed forces.

In the course of his address, the Chief of Army Staff spoke on a number of issues concerning integration, theaterisation and modernisation of the armed forces in general and the Indian Army in particular.

It was a momentous one and that the services needed to demonstrate great wisdom and statesmanship in enabling the Chief of Defence Staff, a long standing demand of the armed forces”, he said referring to the appointment of the CDS.

“He added that the next logical step in the process of defence reforms was the ‘formation of Integrated Theatre Commands to synergise the capabilities and combat potential of the three services during war and peace’,” the Army said in its release.

Gen Naravane also spoke about the current security scenario and focused on the geostrategic implications on capability development of the Indian Army.

The government had appointed Gen Rawat as CDS on December 31 to bring in convergence among the three services and restructure military commands to effectively deal with future security challenges.

As per the plan, each of the theatre commands will have units of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and all of them will work as a single entity looking after security challenges in a specified geographical territory under an operational commander.

At present, the Army, Navy and the Air Force have separate commands.

In February, the Chief of Defence Staff said the air defence command, to be helmed by the Indian Air Force, would be rolled out by the beginning of next year.

He said the proposed peninsula command, to be formed by merging the Indian Navy’s eastern and western commands, is likely to take shape by the end of 2021.

During his visit to Secunderabad, Gen Naravane also visited the Bison division where he was briefed by top commanders on security and operational preparedness of the formation.

He commended the formation for their high level of operational preparedness and exhorted all ranks to continue training hard with zeal and be prepared for any future operational challenges, the Army said.

He also visited the TATA Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL) at Hyderabad, a joint venture facility of Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems.
 
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India to get 5 military theatre commands, one each for China and Pak

According to military and national security planners, the northern command’s remit will begin from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh and continue up to the last outpost Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh , with the military mandate of guarding the 3,488 kilometre of Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.


Updated: Oct 27, 2020, 07:40 IST
By Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi


The Indian military is expected to be re-organised under five theatre commands by 2022 with defined areas of operation and a seamless command structure for synchronised operations.

With the department of military affairs soon to have additional and joint secretaries after Cabinet clearance, the task of re-organisation of the three services under theatre commands has begun with a China specific Northern Command and Pakistan specific Western command under serious consideration. India’s Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat has been given the mandate by the Narendra Modi government to create theatre commands much like the ones China and the US currently have.

According to military and national security planners, the northern command’s remit will begin from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh and continue up to the last outpost Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh , with the military mandate of guarding the 3,488 kilometre of Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The HQ of this command could be Lucknow.

The western command’s remit will be from Indira Col on Saltoro Ridge in the Siachen Glacier region to the tip of Gujarat with its HQ likely in Jaipur.

The third theatre command will be the Peninsular Command; the fourth, a full-fledged air defence command; and the fifth, a maritime command. The likely HQ of the Peninsular command could be Thiruvananthapuram. The air defence command will not only spearhead the country’s aerial attack but also be responsible for defending Indian airspace through multi-role fighters with all anti aircraft missiles under its control.

Currently, the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy all defend Indian airspace on separate communication frequencies and without synergy. This is despite the fact that all Indian Army Corps Headquarters are located next to an air base as a result of which there is duplication of effort and wasteful expenditure. The planners said there is option of extending this to an aerospace command as per future requirements.

India will have only one maritime command with a possibility that the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Islands Command being merged with this . The task of the maritime command will be to protect the Indian Ocean and India’s Island territories as well as keep the sea lanes free and open from any outside pressure.

Although in a nascent stage, the Indian Navy’s maritime assets will be placed in Karwar on the western seaboard, Vishakhapatnam on the eastern seaboard and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With China emerging as a threat, the possible headquarters of the Maritime Command could be Andhra Pradesh’s new capital with Port Blair emerging as another major base for naval operations.

Theaterisation refers to placing units of the army, air force, and navy under a single Theatre Commander. The operational command of such combinations will be under one officer drawn from one of the three services.

“Theaterisation of commands is imperative to integrate resources of the three services for maximising impact in any war. The geographical expanse of theatres in India demands unified commands for strategic decisions and critical outcomes that will be possible in concentrated employment of resources,” said former army vice chief Lt Gen AS Lamba (retd).

According to senior officials familiar with the matter, all five commands will be headed by Lt General or equivalent rank commanders, who will be the first among equals with the heads of the present commands reporting to them. The task of the Chief of Staff of Army, Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Naval Staff will not be operational but involve mobilising resources to the theatre commanders as it is in the US military.

If the Andamans and Nicobar Command goes under the maritime command as is being visualised, then the CDS will have the Armed Forces Special Operation Division, Cyber Command and the Defence Intelligence Agency under him with manpower drawn from all the three services.

 

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Ashwin

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Two new commands to be finalised soon

The Maritime Theatre Commander would report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee; the Air Defence Commander would operationally report to the Chief of the Air Staff.

An Air Defence Command (ADC) and a Maritime Theatre Commander (MTC) are in advanced stages of being finalised, according to two official sources. The MTC Commander would operationally report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee consisting of the three Service Chiefs and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as its permanent Chairman, one of the sources said.
In contrast, it has been proposed that the ADC Commander would operationally report to the Chief of the Air Staff, the other source said.
As per a study undertaken, the Navy Chief would focus on raise, train and sustain functions and will have a say in the operational aspects of the MTC through the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Study groups

Study groups headed by Vice Chiefs of the three Services had been set up to work out the modalities of the various theatres and come up with suggestions. The creation of integrated triservice theatre commands is in the charter of the CDS.
The MTC would be a geographic command bringing together the Navy’s Eastern and Western commands, air elements and two amphibious infantry brigades and elements of the Coast Guard. The current triservice Andaman Nicobar command would also be brought under it.
The MTC Commander would be based in Karwar, with the Eastern and Western Naval commanders reporting to him. The MTC will cover India’s entire maritime interests.
The country’s first CDS, Gen. Bipin Rawat, recently said the joint study groups have brought out their papers, which were “being iterated, deliberated and further refined so that firm steps can be taken to operationalise them in the next 2-3 years.” The proposals would soon be sent to the government, one of the source stated.
Land based theatre commands are also in the works and Gen. Rawat has called for integrated training and logistics commands as well.
 

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Two new commands to be finalised soon

The Maritime Theatre Commander would report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee; the Air Defence Commander would operationally report to the Chief of the Air Staff.

An Air Defence Command (ADC) and a Maritime Theatre Commander (MTC) are in advanced stages of being finalised, according to two official sources. The MTC Commander would operationally report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee consisting of the three Service Chiefs and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as its permanent Chairman, one of the sources said.
In contrast, it has been proposed that the ADC Commander would operationally report to the Chief of the Air Staff, the other source said.
As per a study undertaken, the Navy Chief would focus on raise, train and sustain functions and will have a say in the operational aspects of the MTC through the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Study groups

Study groups headed by Vice Chiefs of the three Services had been set up to work out the modalities of the various theatres and come up with suggestions. The creation of integrated triservice theatre commands is in the charter of the CDS.
The MTC would be a geographic command bringing together the Navy’s Eastern and Western commands, air elements and two amphibious infantry brigades and elements of the Coast Guard. The current triservice Andaman Nicobar command would also be brought under it.
The MTC Commander would be based in Karwar, with the Eastern and Western Naval commanders reporting to him. The MTC will cover India’s entire maritime interests.
The country’s first CDS, Gen. Bipin Rawat, recently said the joint study groups have brought out their papers, which were “being iterated, deliberated and further refined so that firm steps can be taken to operationalise them in the next 2-3 years.” The proposals would soon be sent to the government, one of the source stated.
Land based theatre commands are also in the works and Gen. Rawat has called for integrated training and logistics commands as well.
This operationally & functionally reporting pattern never works in the long term. As with everything Indian, this seem to be a compromise. It goes against the very grain of what a TC ought to do.
 
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Ashwin

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It would be no exaggeration to say that, after decades of procrastination by successive governments, the creation of two new entities — a Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) — a year ago, was the most significant development in the national security domain since Independence. The crux of this development lay in two crucial and long-overdue reforms. One, the management of the armed forces, so far assigned to the civilian Defence Secretary, was brought under a military officer, the CDS. And two, the designation of CDS as Secretary DMA (although an incorrect equivalence for a four-star general) made him the first military officer to be recognised as a functionary of the Government of India (GoI) by its Allocation of Business Rules.

This radical restructuring has raised hopes that since the DMA is now a part of the GoI, the anomalies and imbalances — organisational, hierarchical and financial — unilaterally imposed on the armed forces over seven decades would be addressed and remedied at long last. While the DMA is, hopefully, considering these issues and coming to grips with its assigned charter, it has seen fit to share with the media some incipient schemes with far-reaching implications. This has brought certain important issues into the public domain, which bear discussion.

With the nation facing a “real and present” military threat from two adversaries, it is incumbent upon the GoI — notwithstanding the economic downturn — to find the means to bolster national security. Bizarre as it may sound, the onus for accruing savings to fund defence expenditure seems to have been placed on the DMA, which has floated two schemes aimed at reducing the defence pensions bill. One penalises officers seeking early release from service and another envisages a three-year “Tour of Duty” for jawans. Both projects are based on unsound assumptions and, even if feasible, the first is likely to harm morale, while the second will degrade the military’s combat-capability in today’s technology-intensive battle-space. In the midst of a national crisis, it is the finance ministry or the Niti Aayog that should be devising ways of financing national defence, rather than the DMA, which must focus on military matters.

It is not clear whether the talk of “rolling out” theatre commands is a trial balloon or the outcome of in-depth deliberation and consensus between the three service headquarters with certain clear objectives in sight. Ideally, these objectives should be: (a) To hand over the military’s warfighting functions to the Theatre Commanders, while retaining the support functions with service HQs; (b) to combine India’s 17 widely-dispersed, single-service Commands into four or five mission/threat-oriented, geographically contiguous “Joint” or “Theatre Commands”; (c) to place the appropriate warfighting resources of all three services directly under the command of the designated Theatre Commanders; and (d) to achieve efficiency/economy by pooling of facilities and resources of the three services.

The creation of Theatre Commands, in response to a political diktat, must not become an end itself; lest it merely adds additional layers of military hierarchy to a reasonably functional existing organisation. The underlying, long-term premise of this exercise is that the Theatre Commanders and their staff will be so trained and groomed in jointness that they are able to plan operations and to employ land, maritime and air forces, regardless of the service to which they belong. For this to happen, radical changes are required in the content of our system of professional military education. Since, the Theatre Commander will also have the benefit of advice from component commanders representing each service, this post (like that of the CDS) would be, at least in theory, tenable by an officer belonging to any of the three services.

The system of Theatre Commands must, obviously, be tailored to meet country-specific requirements but two thorny issues that have emerged universally are the chain of command of the Theatre Commanders and the relationship of the CDS (or his equivalent) with the service Chiefs.

Since democracies are averse to over-concentration of power in any single military functionary, the system followed by the US ensures that the chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary (Minister) of Defence and then, directly to the Theatre Commander. While the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (C-JCS) has no command authority over any combatant forces, he, as the principal military adviser to the President and Defence Secretary, assists them in providing strategic direction to the armed forces and in the force-planning and budgetary processes. When rendering advice, the C-JCS is required to consult the service Chiefs, who serve as subsidiary military advisers.

In India, while the peacetime management of the armed forces is left to the MoD and the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), strategic guidance to the military, during war, has always come from the PM. However, in the system of higher defence under implementation, ideally, the Raksha Mantri (RM) needs to be brought into the command/operational chain of the Theatre Commanders, with the CDS acting as his adviser.

Unfortunately, such is the frequency of elections and intensity of politics in India that no RM has had the time or inclination to devote his/her undivided attention to complex national security issues. This is, possibly, one of the reasons why 70 years post-Independence India finds itself in a security dilemma. Therefore, unless the RM is an individual able to dedicate himself 24×7 to national security, it would be prudent to place the newly minted Theatre Commanders under the Chiefs of Staff Committee, rather than the CDS for operational tasking.

Finally, in the US, politicians, soldiers, academicians and the media, country-wide, engaged in four years of informed debate before the US Congress passed the Goldwater-Nichols Defence Reorganisation Act of 1986. Since India’s military reforms are equally complex, the GoI needs to seriously consider the constitution of a Parliamentary Committee, with military advisers, to oversee and guide this transformational process.