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Peninsular command by next year end, theatre commands by 2022: Gen. Rawat

Jammu and Kashmir will be a separate theatre command, says Chief of Defence Staff

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Monday spelled out a road map for restructuring the Armed Forces that would holistically counter threats along the borders with China and Pakistan as waell as in the Indian Ocean, backed by logistical agreements with other countries.

General Rawat said that an Indian Ocean-centered Peninsular Command, possibly formed by merging the Eastern and Western Naval Commands, should start shaping up by the end of next year.

“Security of peninsular India should be the responsibility of one Commander. Can we integrate the Eastern and Western Naval Commands and call it Peninsular Command? We will be issuing study directives for the Peninsular Command by March 31,” Gen. Rawat said in an interaction with mediapersons here on Monday.

The study will look at earmarking some assets of the Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) for deployment under the Peninsular Command. Currently, the Western Naval Command, based in Mumbai, focuses on the western seaboard, while the Eastern Command keeps vigil over the Bay of Bengal zone till the Malacca Straits.

Gen. Rawat pointed out that the Chief of Naval Staff must look at the “big picture”, and stressed that the “Indian Ocean region is one entity”. He added that military diplomacy also must be prioritised — an observation that coincided with the departure of the Naval Chief, Admiral Karambir Singh, to Myanmar on Monday.

Gen. Rawat said India has signed several logistics agreements with a number of countries, which should be leveraged for operational turnaround. “We will work with other Navies to see how we can work with them...for logistical support,” he observed.

Beginning with the logistics agreement with the U.S. in 2016, India has signed several such pacts, which are administrative arrangements for fuel and supplies, including with France, Oman and South Korea among others, and several more are under discussion.

The CDS also spotlighted the importance of upgrading airstrips on the islands in the Andaman and Nicobar chain as static bases. Elaborating on tri-service theatre commands, General Rawat said that one or two theatre commands will man the border with China. With Pakistan as the focus on the western front, Gen. Rawat said, “Jammu and Kashmir should be a separate theatre, including the IB (International Boundary) part. Balance of Western theatre is another command.”

Referring to timelines for the formation of the theatre commands, the Air Defence Command (ADC) would be the first off the block. It is likely to be formed next year, based an on-going study by by the Vice Chief of the IAF, which would be competed by March 31.

By the year-end, instructions would be issued for a three-month study of other theatre commands. “By 2021, complete the study and start giving directives. Hope to start theatrisation by 2022,” Gen. Rawat stated.

The CDS clarified that the Navy should focus on submarines, and a third aircraft carrier was not an immediate priority. In response to a question on the IAF’s tender for 114 fighter jets, Gen. Rawat said, “It has to be staggered.”

He added that the government was not inclined to look at single big-ticket purchases. “I feel you should never go in for large numbers in one go,” Gen. Rawat said.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 2:06:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/peninsular-command-by-next-year-end-theatre-commands-by-2022-gen-rawat/article30840974.ece

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