Theatrisation is amalgamation of headquarters based on operational considerations: Lt. Gen. Ajai Singh

The Commander-in-Chief of Andaman and Nicobar Command moots integration of all service think tanks under United Service Institution of India

November 21, 2022 05:00 am | Updated 11:45 am IST - NEW DELHI

Lt. Gen. Ajai Singh. Photo: Special Arrangement

Lt. Gen. Ajai Singh. Photo: Special Arrangement

“When we talk of theatrisation we are not amalgamating our fighting units, but amalgamating our headquarters based on operational considerations,” said Lt. Gen. Ajai Singh, Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN), the country’s only operational triservice command. He also recommended that all Service think tanks be brought under the ambit of the United Service Institution of India (USI), of which all Service Chiefs are vice-patrons, to nurture strategic thought.

In this direction, Lt. Gen. Singh noted that the ANC is under the operational command of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as defined in its raising charter.

“Theatrisation is about integrating the planning process. It is about getting the best out of the core competencies of each Service. Core competency resides in our fighting units and headquarters are coordinating their actions. When we talk of theatrisation we are not amalgamating our fighting units, we are only amalgamating our headquarters,” Lt. Gen. Singh said in a conversation. “In this amalgamation some will win, some will lose. The primary consideration for this amalgamation should be operational consideration.”

Speaking further on this, the CINCAN said there was wonderful work being done in theatrisation and the Services had their own think tanks and made a recommendation to the country’s higher military leadership that “as a preliminary step to help the overall planning process can they integrate the Service think tanks under the USI, whose vice-patrons they already are.”

Three think tanks

There are three Service think tanks, the Centre for Land Warfare Studies of Army, the National Maritime Foundation of Navy and the Centre for Air Power Studies of IAF. There is also the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies which functions under the Integrated Defence Staff.

Lt. Gen. Singh is a fifth generation Army and Cavalry/Armoured Corps officer, with family service of over 163 years since September 13, 1858.  

Stating that CINCAN is the only Commander-in-Chief of an operational triservice command who is directly under the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as per an Act of Parliament, Lt. Gen. Singh said the reports of the Kargil review committee and Group of Ministers (GoM) were tabled in Parliament. After it was accepted by Parliament the Cabinet approved the creation of the ANC in 2001, he said, adding, “The raising charter of the ANC states that the CINCAN will be under the operational command of the CDS and till a CDS is appointed, will function under the Chief of Staff Committee (CoSC).”

When the office of the CDS was created in 2019, its mandate was to ensure “jointness” of the three Services in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, within three years of the first CDS assuming office. The top priority for the CDS is the proposed reorganisation of the armed forces into integrated theatre commands, which is yet to get the required consensus from the three Services. The effort got disrupted by the death of the 1st CDS General  Bipin Rawat, and then the delay in the appointment of his successor. The deliberations have now resumed since General Anil Chauhan assumed charge as the CDS.

Commanders Conferences

In another step, the CINCAN now attends the Commanders Conferences of all three Services, a practice which began two years ago, according to Lt. Gen. Singh. “I am greatly privileged to Admiral Karambir Singh (former Navy Chief) and Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria (former IAF Chief) for their directions on this. “Commanders Conferences serve a very important purpose. It is also about giving clear direction,” he said, noting that the directive style of command was our central tenet. 

On the steps taken under the ANC to further triservice integration, Lt. Gen. Singh said one of the most important decisions was a 2017 Ministry of Defence order to integrate land parcels of all three Services in ANC under the CINCAN. “We integrated accommodation, now there is a common pool for accommodation. We integrated the station headquarters. Earlier every Service has an ad hoc station HQ. Now we made common station HQ where all three Services and Coast Guard sit together,” he said elaborating.

“Last six months we have been working on an integrated zonal development plan. We will have a common road map for land utilisation,” Lt. Gen. Singh stated. Further, ANC now has joint operations room and it is the heart where all operations are coordinated. “Actions of the Navy and the Coast Guard have been integrated. It brings dynamism,” he remarked, adding lot of air augmentation is also being integrated.

He said the Navy was now giving rations to everyone under ANC and this was later followed by General Bipin Rawat in Mumbai. Gen. Rawat had stressed on the need for joint logistics nodes to bring in efficiency and optimisation of resources. 

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